I can’t do this justice as I catch up today, but if you haven’t caught it, there’s a MAJOR dust-up in the blogosphere, one that will impact how social media campaigns are planned going forward.
The VERY short version:
1) Microsoft solicited notable bloggers like Om Malik (GigaOm) and Mike Arrington (TechCrunch) to talk about the importance of people at their businesses. The bloggers were part of the Federated Media blog ad network, which planned the campaign.
2) These bloggers were not compensated directly, but rather were paid by Microsoft running ads on their sites.
3) Nick Denton, Valleywag publisher, lashed out at these bloggers for taking money and not disclosing it.
4) Bloggers reacted like crazy. Om Malik recanted. FM chief John Battelle said his bloggers should have disclosed it. Mike Arrington says Battelle threw him under the bus. This is bigger than the Iron Man-Spidey dustup in the Marvel Civil War series.
My take: the campaign itself wasn’t that innovative. What, like it’s going out on a limb to brand your business as people-focused? Why would bloggers take part in that? Seemed like a cool idea at the time, perhaps.
Yet more importantly, for this point, this will effectively kill the concept of bloggers participating in an ad campaign that runs on their site.
Still, Federated Media has been a pioneer with innovative approaches to blog advertising. For most marketers, blog advertising is simply running the same display ads you run on Yahoo and iVillage and extending them to blogs. That turns blog ads into a bland extension of a media campaign, even if it makes marketers feel better that an ad of theirs is running on a certified, bona fide blog (and, yes, marketers love hearing that kind of thing). Running a customized campaign involving reaching out to bloggers to inform the creative of the ad shows a great deal of care in developing a real blog media campaign, even if the execution fell short in this example.
Additionally, looking at the technical framework behind what FM is doing here, there should be a lot of great uses for blog ads to be populated with content from RSS feeds, such as user-generated content (that’s screened, of course). We’re going to see a lot of cool examples of this kind of thing in the very near future.
For some even better insights into all of this, read some great commentary: CK writing about the importance of trust (with great discussion in the comments), Jeff Jarvis chronicling the whole play by play and includes his own code of ethics that anyone would do well to follow and adapt, and MarketingPilgrim covering the brouhaha with lots of links.