Advertising and Bias in BLogs.

Dave Taylor has an analysis of ‘professional’ blogging or the steps towards it. Whether we like it or not, we’re likely to display bias for or against a product based on past history and personal values. If a company is either paying or just providing a product to review, subconciously you are more likely to pre-disposed to saying to something positive. Even if you end up negative, I’m pretty sure there would have been a moment of questioning.

Look at the posts about the Stormhoek free wine offer. It looks like around 25-30% of people who received a bottle blogged about it (there was no compulsion to mention it) and they are postive about the wine and give good coverage. But did the fact we got it free mean that we had a unconscious expectation to like it?

Dave concludes

The question, then isn’t whether to do it, but whether to disclose, and I suggest that the answer to this supposed ethical dilemma is simply to state that bloggers should use their own judgment. If it is a relationship that’s going to compromise your own integrity, where you’re forced to say positive things about something that you don’t like or wouldn’t otherwise recommend, then you have a problem and you should disclose it to your readers in the interest of retaining your credibility. If not, though, if you’re a gadget freak and Sony or Nokia sending you a neato new toy just sidesteps you having to buy one, well, I suggest that’s not an ethical dilemma at all and doesn’t need to be disclosed.

So instead of a rule or guideline at all, let’s just start talking about a best practice and let each blogger decide where along the disclosure continuum they feel most comfortable.

It’s always going to be down to personal values and beliefs whether or not you blog about products that you may have received or be paid to dicuss. And it’s down to the reputation and trust your readers have in you to determine whether such posts are worth it

2 thoughts on “Advertising and Bias in BLogs.

  1. Actually, the number would be closer to 50%. 75 bottles were sent out, so far around 30-35 people have blogged about it.

    What’s starting to get interesting to me is; what kind of OFFLINE conversations are taking place? And if they’re happening, will they help drive sales eventually?

    I’m quite keen to get a reliable working metric of how this experiment works when you scale it upward.

    I would like to be able to say to the client, if you hand out X number of bottles, you’ll sell Y number of cases next. Then it’s just a case of doing the math.

    I’d also be interested in knowing what your colleagues at work are saying about the Stormhoek promo πŸ˜‰

  2. I knocked a few off the number of blogs listed as they posted about the offer but not necessarily the wine tasting; in that someone’s mind would be in a position to be more sympathetic to the wine taste in the circumstances, but from the marketing perspective, they all appear to be good mentions.

    For the offline conversations, how can we shift the paradigm to measure these? Do we rely on focus on groups, on the in-shop questioning? Blogging is shifting on-line buzz and how we can measure it; offline – don’t think we’re there yet. Doing the variance analysis on the sales figures is going to be fun πŸ˜‰

    And opinion at work – I think I’ll go and find out.