Anil Dash on Conversational Marketing

Anil Dash, Chief Evangelist at Six Apart and among the folks credited with launching the blog movement (here’s his bio), added this to the discussion of conversational marketing:

“There’s been a (mostly boring) conversation going between some blogs over the past few days regarding the line between editorial and advertising. Largely, this is a case of the same silly-meme-into-faux-fact path that I tried to document yesterday. In this case, it’s a little lessinnocent — Nick Denton used a Valleywag blog post to take a jab at John Battelle and FM Pub by implying its writers sold out by creating copy for a Microsoft campaign that ran on their sites.

“The whole thing is, as I said, mostly boring, except that the idea of the post is what ended up being debated, instead of the fact that this is really a case of a not-that-serious personal rivalry turning into an assault on the credibility of a number of good bloggers. And a number of overrated ones, but that’s beside the point.

“Again with the disclaimers: I know both Nick and John, and like them both for what they’re good at, as well as for what makes them different. And I have good friends in both of their companies. This isn’t name-dropping; A big part of my job is making connections to people who do innovative things with blogs and in the blogging industry, and they both fall squarely into that description.

“But Nick is being pretty transparently intellectually dishonest here — throwing bombs at John and FM not because he believes what he’s saying, but because he knows it’ll get attention. The idea of advertising becoming more blog-like is a good thing. If every ad were written by an actual human, had a permanent link to its location, and let people share or tag it, we’d end up with a radically better advertising culture.

The idea of a media team creating advertising content isn’t new — it’s as old as publishing itself. And it continues today. Here’s Ziff Davis’ Contract Publishing services. In public media, here’s PBS’ Red Book guidelines for underwriting content. Sure, it makes sense to have different teams be responsible for money and editorial. But in blogging, where the editor is the publisher and you can’t split a one-person staff in half, merging these functions isn’t just logical, it’s inevitable. Perhaps if Nick hadn’t been a pioneering blogger himself, I’d have believed he was simply mistaken.

“In this case, though, we’re fortunate to have some pretty articulate advocates for the idea of conversational marketing. For example, FM Pub’s Chas Edwards does a great job of telling the story (link).

“But perhaps the best advocate for this style of conversational marketing is Nick Denton. From three years ago…..”

In Anil’s post, he’s pulled material from Gawker Media’s own media kit from 3 years ago, including the offer to “provide editorial talent and oversight” and the statement that “campaign weblogs allow a marketer to participate in the weblog conversation, rather than observe it as a passive sponsor.”

I think Nick and I agree more than I thought!

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