OhGizmo's David Ponce Reports to Having Fun with Toshiba Campaign

At OhGizmo, author David Ponce says it’s “sort of fun” participating in Toshiba’s Tech Battle Royale sponsorship:

“Each week, the question is read by the ninja from Ask A Ninja and readers get to vote on their favorite answer. I’ll tell you, it’s sort of fun to be battling it out with these guys, even if in the end it doesn’t make much difference who wins. See, whoever leads in the votes doesn’t really get anything special. Only bragging rights, I guess. But this is where I ask all y’all to help me out a little and send a couple votes my way. I’m currently 4th in the rankings, a whisper ahead of Mark Frauenfelder from BoingBoing.”

He also makes clear the terms of his relationship to Toshiba (brokered by us at FM):

“And for the record no one asked me to write this post, and I don’t get paid to write the answers. Toshiba (the sponsor) is running ads on this site (you might have seen them around) and that’s the only form of compensation in this campaign.”

It surprised me to see Fazal Magid in the comments write this:

“It looks like a reprise of the slimy Microsoft ad campaign (see link) that made waves some time ago. You would do well to disassociate yourself from FM, they have no clue what the limits of the acceptable are. That reminds me, I need to add “Federated Media” to the list of keywords to filter out in my aggregator…”

As I wrote in response to Fazal on the site: The sponsorship relationship with Toshiba is quite transparent from the start, and David’s post takes that transparency even further. The program doesn’t affect any editorial content on OhGizmo, and — as far as I can tell — doesn’t sway the editorial voice at OhGizmo. Is your objection just to the idea that authors can acknowledge advertisers on their editorial pages? Or that an author’s content can be licensed for us on a marketer’s site or advertorial project?

  1. # Robert Seidman said: September 10th, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Chas, I am not surprised by the comment from Fazal. On a guess the objection isn’t to anything related to the conversational nature of the campaign, or how money changed hands. It has to do with affiliating with big sponsors who pay big money from the technology sector — I doubt you’d see similar complaints if this campaign was with BMW. Microsoft is sure to draw the strongest objections (though this past week Apple might have passed them!).

    But Toshiba, HP, etc,, and the response would probably be the same. I’m sure there’s some “People Ready” backlash. But I’m guessing if you polled 1000 random people who used the web daily and asked them about all the backlash regarding “People Ready” 99.7% or so of the responses would be, “Huh?”

    I could be wrong and perhaps Fazal would hate any campaign from any big sponsor or any campaign from FM regardless of the type of business. I’ll bet you dinner though that Fazal just loves, loves, loves well produced free content.

    I believe however that *most* people aren’t like Fazal (or me for that matter) and simply really don’t care. The relatively small % who do care are very vocal as you found out with the People Ready campaign, but I hope if something like that comes up again FM can figure out a way to stay the tide a little longer and see how the campaigns actually perform relative to other campaigns.

    The Tech Battle Royale is a very well done attempt at full conversational marketing. I hope FM, Toshiba, and both the bloggers participating and the bloggers getting paid by running the ads are happy with the campaign. I’d love to see a full case study on it in the aftermath.

  2. # Chas said: September 13th, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Robert–I have to argue with your estimated statistic, that only 99.7% of people would say “Huh?” if I asked them about the Microsoft People Ready Business whoopla. I did poll many friends and colleagues from the marketing and advertising community and around 99% of *them* said “Huh?” I think a random sampling of folks — rather than media folks — would round up to 100%!

    I should ignore comments like Fazal’s, because — as you say — they’re not representative. But it gets under my skin when authors and independent publishers are busting their butts to create great content and pay the rent at the same time, and even a few people criticize their efforts.

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