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:
- There’s no giveaway;
- 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;
- 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
- 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.