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How brands secretly buy their way into website stories
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-12-05 20:07:31

People involved with the payoffs are extremely reluctant to discuss them, but four contributing writers to prominent publications including Mashable, Inc, Business Insider, and Entrepreneur told me they have personally accepted payments in exchange for weaving promotional references to brands into their work on those sites. Two of the writers acknowledged they have taken part in the scheme for years, on behalf of many brands.

One of them, a contributor to Fast Company and other outlets who asked not to be identified by name, described how he had inserted references to a well-known startup that offers email marketing software into multiple online articles, in Fast Company and elsewhere, on behalf of a marketing agency he declined to name. To make the references seem natural, he said, he often links to case studies and how-to guides published by the startup on its own site. Other times, he’ll just praise a certain aspect of the company’s business to support a point in an otherwise unrelated story. (As of press time, Fast Company had not responded to a request for comment.)

This is hardly surprising to anyone who has spent a decent amount of time on the web. I can confirm, however, that I've never partaken in anything like this, and the occasional request of this nature goes straight into my spam folder.

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RE[2]: Who tried it with OSNews?
By Alfman on 2017-12-07 19:39:31
Thom Holwerda,

> It's usually start-ups and such that try to get you to write about them. They're usually unknown, and every once in a while, I'll read about them on some other site months after the fact.

I get these maybe a few times a month, but not all of them are literally in the form of "i gib u monies, u write about us". Often they're a bit sneakier, and I suspect that were I to engage them, they'd offer that later.



Whether they pay you or not, your article coverage often still end up amplifying the echo chamber of big brands. I'm not sure if you realize it or not but as a reader I sure do. There's an old adage: there's no such thing as bad news. It means whether the articles or positive or negative is less important than the fact that they have a captive audience. Osnews is secretly being manipulated too, even if not by money.

I think Moonbuzz makes a very fair point, the fact is you are already hosting paid content. Just because you outsource it to google doesn't mean you get to wash your hands of it and claim moral superiority.

As long as the content being posted is genuinely something interesting that your audience wants to read (and not merely a mass spamvertisement) then I don't personally think you should necessarily ban it. Most of us regulars here will recognize that the quality of original content has declined. If you could convince these small startups to create or sponsor great content for osnews, it might actually benefit both osnews and the small startups too. Giving the little guys more visibility in a world dominated by huge conglomerates is not such a bad thing IMHO.

I know this could be controversial, but assuming these startups are able to provide good publishworthy content, I wouldn't be opposed to that and it would be nice to give some coverage to the little guys for a change. Just my two sense.

Edited 2017-12-07 19:41 UTC
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RE[3]: Who tried it with OSNews?
By Alfman on 2017-12-07 20:40:06
Dear Alfman,

> Whether they pay you or not, your article coverage often still end up amplifying the echo chamber of big brands. I'm not sure if you realize it or not but as a reader I sure do.

Get off your high horse and submit your own articles if you have a problem with the coverage.

> As long as the content being posted is genuinely something interesting that your audience wants to read (and not merely a mass spamvertisement) then I don't personally think you should necessarily ban it. Most of us regulars here will recognize that the quality of original content has declined.

Sponsored content sucks, period.


> Just my two sense.

The expression is "my two cents".

/alter ego
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE[2]: Who tried it with OSNews?
By zima on 2017-12-08 23:56:18
I have OSNews whitelisted ...but I doubt welovecycling.com by Skoda auto (to name one ad that has shown up often this Autumn; though lately largely replaced by car ads) tried with OSNews the discussed practice :P (hm, OTOH a maker of industrial controller based on Arduino... or a Tchibo Star Wars / Darth Vader alarm clock :D )
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