Earlier today Pete Cashmore from Mashable did a post called “Twitter Ads are Evil”. The root of Pete’s argument is that paid endorsements destroy trust. While I personally like Pete I have to say he is completely off base on this one. Paid endorsements are a multi-billion dollar industry that includes the worlds biggest brands and celebrities. Matching the right brand with the right individual can create huge value for both parties and actually increase the trust amongst consumers and fans.

You trust Michael Jordan. You trust Gatorade. You trust Michael Jordan drinking Gatorade. You want to “Be Like Mike” and drink Gatorade. You know that money is changing hands but it doesn’t matter because the message is right and the product matches the endorser. Paid endorsements work in both mainstream media and traditional media. Don’t believe me? Ask Cali Lewis and Drobo or Robert Scoble and RackSpace.

Mashable Does Sponsored Tweets and Posts

We can argue about trust until the cows come home but that is not my real issue with this post. My issue is that all the arguments are completely hypocritical. Mashable has attacked twitter ads and other forms of sponsored conversations for the past few years….but guess what? Mashable runs sponsored tweets and posts. The only difference is that Mashable’s sponsored tweets drive traffic back to a sponsored post on Mashable.com. It’s not just an ad. It’s an ad that leads to another ad.

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How about this out of place post on “The Social Media Guide” about black friday deals at Best Buy that just so happens to contain a giant Best Buy display ad?

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Why is it OK for Mashable to make money from sponsored conversations while it is “evil” for other people to do it?

Ted Murphy

Ted Murphy

Ted Murphy is an American entrepreneur. He is currently the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of IZEA, a technology company that provides software for influencer marketing.

17 Comments

  • Romil Patel says:

    Well Said, As long as transparency is involved and things are done legally, then there should be no problem. Which is what you stand for, Ted, I believe.

  • It’s ironic that Mashable and other “top bloggers” have been bashing Sponsored Tweets while either taking part in them or taking part in other paid advertising. All I can say is PU-LEASE! These posts are making them money too by using the name Sponsored Tweets.

  • Loretta says:

    w00t! You go Ted. Mashable is like the government, they want to make the rules up as they go and they don’t want to share with the general public.

  • LukePeerFly says:

    I agree 100%. Well said 🙂

  • Christine says:

    … because people are riding too high on their high horses? Google, Mashable …. they all make tons of $$$ doing things they said others shouldn’t do.

  • Tim says:

    It’s all about competition. Izea creates open marketplaces that replace the back-channel deals and price-setting between bloggers and advertisers. As you saw with PPP, they’re going to to try to squish your model, or get you to change it to one that permits them to compete better.

  • Ricky says:

    I’m not a huge fan of advertising in general but I understand that we need it. it is ok when this ad is well done. mashable is totally hypocrite with this post when they are the most intense blog to monetize every block of their blog… they try to act as angel but they do have their hand in the “evil world” too. Ask them if they endorse every ads on their google adsense banner …. I mean it’s ok for them but not ok for the rest of the world…… I don’t say sporsored tweet is perfect or the best model but it is ok to use it when you add value . point blank

  • Jeff says:

    As I said in my comment on Pete’s post; “”…..Seems a little ‘pot calling the kettle black’ to me.”

  • Why Mashable is hypocrite with paid post and twitter ad…

    I’m not a huge fan of ads in my twitter streams but I understand why many people use it.
    A quick example:
    You love this book XYZ. The book XYZ helps you solve a huge problem. You are ready to recommend it to your friends that face the same problem.
    N…

  • Pete says:

    Hey Ted,

    Thanks for responding!

    To clarify: we don’t do sponsored tweets – that tweet is a thanks to our partners that they neither pay for nor requested. We like their support and we say thanks – nothing in the agreements says we will tweet about them. But, I think generally our readers pay less attention to that message than most of our content, which brings me to the next point…

    Interruptive advertising is ineffective (eg. in the case of posts). I mean, look at the comment counts on those posts you mention – zero. Clearly this isn’t the best way to serve both our advertisers and readers, and we’re committed to moving away from interruptive advertising to the greatest degree possible. Change takes time, but we sincerely believe that this form of ad is a vestige of the past, and not the way of the future. We think we can do it better.

    We don’t want interruptive ads on our site at all, and while it’s gonna take time to transition, we’re sticking to our belief that interruption is not the best way to serve any of the parties involved.

  • Ted Murphy says:

    @Pete:
    “I mean, look at the comment counts on those posts you mention – zero.”

    Well, it doesn’t help that you turn the COMMENTS OFF on all your sponsored posts. Not a very strong argument there.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedmurphy/4148613954/

    You may not allow comments but the Amex post listed above has 343 Reactions according to your site. That is more than a lot of your regular posts.

    I am not sure how a message that evoked hundreds of ReTweets is ineffective. How many people are sending out links to your display ads?

    How do you judge that this isn’t the best way to serve your advertisers or readers when you don’t allow comments? It seems like people actually saw value in the sponsored post and shared it. I would also bet you $1,000 that the CTRs blow away any of the display advertising you run on Mashable.

    The post above actually worked, but it could have worked even better for your advertiser and readers. Instead of summarily dismissing the category maybe we should talk about how Mashable can more effectively deliver sponsored conversations in a way that makes you fell comfortable.

    Here’s my first tip: Turn on comments and don’t work with any advertisers that make you turn them off.

  • Jenn says:

    I ♥ your blog entry’s title. Zing!

  • XauriEL says:

    A certain amount of hypocrisy is endemic to the world of advertising… not to mention the life we all lead. We all need money to survive. Advertising is intrinsically annoying and just a little evil. That’s why people fast forward commercials, install AdBlock in their web browser, and avert their eyes when passing billboards. They don’t want you randomly planting memes about whatever product it is you’re shilling today in their brain, taking up valuable mental real estate. Of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t have its place. I think the point is that people would really prefer their advertising to be *relevant*. Taking money to plant memes in your twitter strikes me as being more than a little scattershot; unless, that is, you can be absolutely certain that each and every one of your however many twitter subscribers really care deeply about Gatorade or whatever. More than that, it’s yet another advance in the relentless commodification of our lives. By all means turn your every social interaction into a product pitch, but don’t be surprised if the only friends you have left are marketing executives and every conversation you have is an attempt to get you to buy something. BTW, yes, I am an Anarchist; and yes, I do advertise on my blog; and yes, I did post this comment specifically for the money it would earn me on Mechanical Turk. Hypocrisy!!!!!

  • Sydney says:

    I think you make a very valid point. These days everyone is trying to have a get rich quick scheme. Whether its from blogging about products or tweeting about them. What these people don’t realize is how much the company already makes off of us as consumers and then we now want to advertise for them as well. I for one just get annoyed with all of the ads posted on peoples personal websites. If you want to advertise for a company, join an advertisement firm otherwise — let it go! I can’t even get on social networking sites without seeing this junk!

  • Su says:

    This is a really interesting point, and to be quite honest I’ve never bothered to click those links that Mashable posts on Twitter; as a result, I never knew what was hiding behind them. While you bring up a valid point, we’re all hypocrites in some way. We may both hate if Twitter suddenly sprung ads on us, just as users of various online communities have raged at sudden changes, advertising-related or not. And quite honestly, I don’t think some of these people even read before retweeting some of those tweets. Either that or Mashable’s partners are retweeting.

  • Masai mara says:

    I like the way you put it ted, an ad that leads to another ad. With all this social media life sure is getting more complicated. lol

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