Blog Post

On the Microsoft Ad Campaign

Earlier today Valleywag published a post suggesting that Microsoft paid me (and a number of other bloggers) off to recite their corporate slogan. It is a serious charge, one I take very seriously.

I have been upfront about my ethics and propriety in my reporting, so a finger pointed in that direction is something I must respond to. So without making any excuses, to my readers, if participation in Microsoft’s advertising campaign has made you doubt my integrity even for a second, then I apologize.

I have requested Federated Media, our sales partners, suspend the campaign on our network of sites, and they have. We are turning off any such campaigns that might be running on our network. Would I participate in a similar campaign again? Nothing is worth gambling the readers’ trust. Conversational marketing is a developing format, and clearly the rules are not fully defined. If the readers feel a line was crossed, I’ll will defer to their better judgement.

The fact of the matter is that the original premise of the campaign was to give my thoughts by what People Ready meant to me – it wasn’t an endorsement of a specific Microsoft product. (You can read it here, and judge for yourself.) Nor did my words run in any portion of our editorial space. Microsoft asked us to join a conversation, and we did. I wasn’t paid to participate in the conversation, but Microsoft ran an ad-campaign that paid us on the basis of CPM.

But today the campaign, which has been running for close to two months, brought up doubt about my editorial integrity for some of you.

In the future I shall focus on what I know best – reporting and writing.

110 Responses to “On the Microsoft Ad Campaign”

  1. coward-from-bs-and-hypocrite-deptt

    “In the future I shall focus on what I know best – reporting and writing.”

    When a journalist becomes an entrepreneur, he starts a newspaper — you know why?

  2. you should shut down your site

    you have no shame.. ! And your post makes no mention of the cash that you’ve made out of it … Why not work out how much you made from it and then donate 100x that much to charity as a sign of how much you value your integrity.

  3. Guy With A Bike

    How could anyone think payola is ethical in the first place? It’s not a “conversation”. Goodness. That’s the silliest marketing-ese I’ve seen in months.

    Hooray for journalistic integrity!

  4. Aditya

    Scary when the Apple Mafia turns on one of its own huh? The only reason this ‘story’ is of any significance because it involves Microsoft.

  5. Even a conversation starter like “people ready” has the power to effect the blogsphere specifically because its been engineered and ranked by the SEO mavens. After all, you can check out http://trends.google.com to see that MS has been marketing engineering the term for more than 18 months.

  6. Om,

    Tell you the truth, I am new to your blog having read about this elsewhere and I have to say its not that big a deal from an outside point of view.
    So long as you still bash Microsoft when they need to be bashed and this campaign doesn’t hold you to a anything, then who cares.

    Now if you’re next 15 blogs were about how great Microsofts stuff was with no basis, then I may be worried. I will be watching:)

  7. Where you Honest? Did you say what you think is the truth?

    Then I am tired of the assumption that no once can like Microsoft unless they are paid off…

    I worry that this kind of “when did you stop beating your wife” accusations will actually hurt fair reporting on both sides.

    Will we see people looking to see if chances to appear on conference panels were traded for positive Linux quotes etc.

    If you said what you believed and it was positive for Microsoft. I am sorry to see you running away from that.

    I assume you did what you thought was right then, does what is right change when people make accusations.

    I would have been more impressed if you said, “I told the truth. Microsoft liked it and valued my opinion, and I stand by it. I will not change how I work because of unfounded accusations.”

  8. The fact that you’ve responded so quickly by suspending any similar campaigns shows how serious you’re taking these accusations. But, simple disclosure would’ve done the trick.

    Actually, there are guidelines in place. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) has worked with the FTC to define best practices in this new conversation economy. Check out: http://www.womma.org/ethics/

    At the end of the day, full transparency/disclosure will put you in the clear from the start.

  9. Most folks will know instinctively that money is changing hands when everyone starts talking about being p* ready. This is after all Microsoft we’re talking about. Mayhaps a disclosure of sorts will help those feeling hurt and seeking therapy.

  10. By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. Thank you, thank you. Just a little thought. I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they’ll take root. I don’t know. You try. You do what you can. Kill yourselves. Seriously though, if you are, do. No really, there’s no rationalisation for what you do, and you are Satan’s little helpers, OK? Kill yourselves, seriously. You’re the ruiner of all things good. Seriously, no, this is not a joke. “There’s gonna be a joke coming…” There’s no fucking joke coming, you are Satan’s spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage, you are fucked and you are fucking us, kill yourselves, it’s the only way to save your fucking soul. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show.

    “You know what Bill’s doing now, he’s going for the righteous indignation dollar, that’s a big dollar, a lot of people are feeling that indignation, we’ve done research, huge market. He’s doing a good thing.” Godammit, I’m not doing that, you scumbags, quit putting a godamn dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

  11. Kishore

    Your frequent readers (like me) do not question your integrity but share the concern of this sly marketing without disclosure. I applaud you for taking the right step quickly.
    Class Act!

    I am shocked by many reader’s reaction/comments like ‘nothing to cry about or why people made a big deal’..quite pathetic wrt ethical standards as others have commented :(

    Lessons learned makes all of us more wise for the future..looking forward to more Giga posts.

    Cheers,
    Kishore

  12. Bull Stuff

    Om

    I respectfully disagree. I believe bloggers (especially those with investors needing to show return$$) will increasingly compromise their ethics. I have already heard how you sold out to get your interview with the ATT president. You are increasingly suspect – this feeble effort to preserve some respect doesn’t satisfy me. You are increasingly becoming astroturf like so many others. You probably don’t even realize it – but the industry already talks about you like they know how to play you and manipulate you. I hope you understand how real this is.