Editorial: Do sponsored posts destroy a site’s reputation
I very rarely post pure editorials that have absolutely nothing to do with gaming so if you came here expecting to see the underbelly of gaming journalism unearthed then I apologise. Gaming publishers don’t even attempt to have sponsored posts on Lazygamer.net
No this article has come about as I was horrified yesterday to see a failed social marketing campaign for #GumballSA as it was rolling out live. The idea was that there was a flash mob at Cresta shopping centre that was so totally amazing (it wasn’t) and then amazingly a bunch of local bloggers all posted up about how cool the video was and how amazing it was that Gumball was coming for a second season in South Africa.
Gumball, for those who don’t know is some crap cartoon on CartoonNetwork; Darryn thinks that it is awesome as do my kids but I despise the show…
But marketing your latest TV show is fine and I have no issue with that – but I take issue to bloggers posting blatantly sponsored posts masquerading as personal opinion, even if they contain a tiny disclaimer at the end stating that it was a sponsored post.
You can read a full round up of the debacle here, however during the twitter storm that followed exMi tweeted the following to me that I thought I’d clarify
@lazygamers is there a difference between being paid to post something and accepting (and posting about) free shit?
— Tamaryn Watkins (@ExMi) November 28, 2012
It’s a question that comes up relatively often and this is my take on it.
People send us stuff to review because they want you, our readers, to buy their product. Sometimes we get to keep the stuff being sent for review and sometimes they take it back afterwards. We never specify in the review whether we keep it or not as I don’t feel it makes any difference to you as it sure as hell doesn’t make any difference to our review.
We review goods because you want to hear our opinions on them as we’ve spent years building a reputation for honesty and integrity and you know that what we say is what we believe not what we are being paid to post.
The difference between this and sponsored posts is that in sponsored posts you are accepting money to write an opinion that you don’t necessarily agree with. That to me is immoral and I severely doubt any of these bloggers were paid enough to cover the reputational hit they have all taken.
A way we here at Lazygamer do sponsored content is competitions, like this or this, I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll say it again. We charge people to run competitions (unless they are existing advertisers) as I strongly feel it is pure marketing for companies and we’re not in the business of giving away marketing for free.
We’ve been approached on countless occasions by companies to do sponsored posts and we’ve refused every time as I feel that doing so would be cashing out on the trust we’ve worked so hard to build.
What we do accept though is sponsorship for sections such as our weekly evopoints post, however in these cases it is obvious that we have a sponsor for the content and most importantly the content isn’t decided by the external sponsor. They don’t even know what the article is going to be about and therefore we keep our editorial independence.
So after all that what really is the purpose of this rant? Well nothing really.. it’s my pet hate that in South Africa if you suck up to the PR companies your crappy little blog will receive more funding than real websites or influential companies. There are gaming sites out there with 10% of our readership and 200% of our income because they spend all day tweeting at PR companies and sucking up to the PR people of distributors.
There are distributors who fly all over the country to present to 30 people and give away thousands of Rands worth of goods but feel affronted when we tell them they need to pay to give away stuff on the website. It blows my mind and makes me lose faith in humanity.
The social media strategy in South Africa is to give stuff to your friends and charge the client as if you were doing a job. It’s a sham and needs to be blown open. I’m hoping this Gumball nonsense is the beginning of the end for the corrupt marketing companies but I’m also a realist and realise that there isn’t any chance of that happening.
The truth is big companies like DSTV or banks don’t really care where the marketing money goes. They hand out huge cheques to marketing companies who spend it however they feel fit and then give them a cute powerpoint presentation to show how awesome they are. The money doesn’t actually belong to any person so the drone in the corporation doesn’t really care where it goes, as long as they get free meals and presents, and the marketing people don’t really care if the marketing works, they only care about whether or not the client is happy.
To sum it all up, we don’t allow anyone to influence our editorial and that’s why we’re poor… but we don’t care and will keep on going like we always have.
Also apologies to all those offended in this rant, but if you were offended you’re doing something wrong and maybe you should fix that instead of being upset at me?