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Lots Of Sponsored Posts In Small Niche Significantly Less Annoying When Linked To Ostensibly Good Cause, Sans Phone Giveaway, Experts Say

Lots Of Sponsored Posts In Small Niche Significantly Less Annoying When Linked To Ostensibly Good Cause, Sans Phone Giveaway, Experts Say

Last week, I ranted a bit about the number of blogs who were doing the same sponsored giveaway on the same day for the Windows 7 phone. This week, there was another blanket sponsored post campaign appearing in some blogs represented by both Federated Media and Clever Girls Collective (now associated with Federated Media for these kind of deals) for American Express.

This campaign does not seem to have been run on as many blogs as the Microsoft campaign, though I would venture to guess that the number of total blogs participating was still pretty high (I don’t have total numbers as of the writing of this post), and though the saturation level was high enough to warrant comment, I found the experience significantly less annoying for several of reasons:

  1. There’s no giveaway;
  2. The “Small Business Saturday” theme leads to much more authentic-sounding and, potentially, interesting posts than the stupid “Less is More” writing prompt of the Windows campaign;
  3. The idea of promoting small businesses is something I can get behind, even if it’s a huge credit conglomerate that is promoting it; and
  4. It can *almost* masquerade as a do-gooder, altruistic cause instead of what it is, which is a highly paid advertising placement.

Part of me thinks this campaign is great because it’s very smart, and then part of me finds it very very sneaky and is suspicious of it. American Express is a credit card company and as such I find it not credible that they are doing anything like a disinterested promotion of small businesses. Also, these are paid placements, and they are almost capable of making you think that they are not paid placements because of that altruistic, Horatio Alger bent. From one angle, I want to applaud them, but then I also want to throw eggs at them. That’s kind of how I feel about capitalism in general, though.

I also wonder what the hell happened to regular old display ads. Have we given up on display ads? Are we only doing content column now? Because if so, ugh. I don’t think that’s a good plan. I don’t want to be chicken little, but the sky might fall if all we are going to do is content column ads from here on out.


Comments (5)

  1. Nov 24, 2010

    I don’t want to see only content column advertising. I like blogs that are honest and funny and bittersweet, not blogs that are constantly selling me something.

    That said, I can deal with a few content column adverts (I even did a few myself) before I start to get eye rolly.

  2. Nov 25, 2010

    Well, SOMETHING has to winnow the number of blogs (or at least, blogs that are businesses). There are a finite number of entities that can be selling something (like advertising), and once you’re over that number, the marketplace tends to weed out the good from the bad. So maybe what will weed them out is the ability to create content column advertising that is not totally obnoxious.

    I don’t love it, but I recognize that it’s not reasonable to expect people to create good content for free (or very little) for long. That’s just not how it works.

  3. Addie
    Nov 25, 2010

    It was less irritating – but it was still a pretty wide blanket – and while I understand/agree with wanting/deserving to get paid for your work, as a reader, the frequency seems to be increasing, the content is becoming increasingly similar across blogs – and it’s just getting boring. Two or three more of these in a two-week period or so, and I may tune out for a while and wait for this vehicle to (hopefully) arc and blow over.

  4. Nov 25, 2010

    It was so much more tasteful and well done than the phone giveaway. AmEx must have much better marketing strategists than Microsoft. I guess being one of the biggest credit card companies on the planet and managing to convince an entire generation that “being in debt up to your eyeballs” is an excellent sort of lifestyle gives them the edge when it comes to reading their target audience.

    I’m not a fan of content advertising. I read blogs for the writing, not to be sold on something. I’m not sure I could write a sponsored post, at least not unless it was something I was personally very excited about and truly wanted to share with others. Something about posting or tweeting something to the small number of folks who do read and comment on my blog makes me feel slightly nauseated. Not that its wrong to do, per se. Some people are very openly and admittedly blogging as a living and others have gracefully navigated the waters between being a blogging “voice” and becoming a business.

    The AmEx campaign was hands down the winner in this stack-up.

  5. Nov 26, 2010

    Yes it’s advertising, but it was engaging in my opinion. I wasn’t a part of the campaign, but I did like the AMEX page on Facebook, since they were donating $1,000,000 to Girls Inc.

    It’s interesting to note too that many small businesses don’t accept AMEX because it’s a more expensive card to accept than a Visa or MC.

    Though personally I’m not turning down $25 on my statement just for shopping somewhere I would have anyhow.

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