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Those of you who wonder why we can’t all just play nice, may want to look away now.

I was pointed in the general direction of this SB’s post, (I’m assuming most of you have already seen the post and wondered what my thoughts were? Don’t lie, you know you did!) and I have to say, it made me smile somewhat, then I caught this comment from SB Sarah:

I’m glad so many of you liked the feature about our advertisers. But to be clear, both here and on the ad page itself: advertisements do not constitute an endorsement on the part of Smart Bitches. So while Candy or I have reviewed several of the books or authors featured, advertisements are not endorsements.

Of course you guys remember the minor lovefest over the SB’s advertising Chancery Stone’s incest-ridden smut, right?

My question is, why now, and not then?

19 Comments »

  • I don’t get that, either. My personal feeling is that highlighting ads in a post specifically devoted to them undermines the disclaimer. How can you not endorse an ad when you not only host it, but specifically draw attention to it?

    But then as I’ve said at the SB blog and elsewhere, I have an aversion to ads in general. And I don’t buy the “we host it, but we don’t endorse it” argument, not from anyone who accepts ads.

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  • Karen: Have you emailed Sarah with your thoughts or invited her to speak here about it? I know she has spoken to others in private included myself about the situation.

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  • Ghetto Diva
    September 29
    11:45 am

    To me advertisements are endorsements. Your allowing them to be on your site, so your giving your blog readers and visitors an opportunity to view and purchase the product.

    Yep…endorsing all right.

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  • Maili
    September 29
    11:49 am

    @Karen

    My question is, why now, and not then?

    Because it was to address some comments under her own post? 😛

    @SarahT

    My personal feeling is that highlighting ads in a post specifically devoted to them undermines the disclaimer. How can you not endorse an ad when you not only host it, but specifically draw attention to it?

    Well, technically, Sarah’s post is an advertorial, which is a mixture of ad highlights and editorial.

    It’s not that different from, say, a magazine editor’s letter acknowledging advertisers and sponsors. It doesn’t necessarily mean the editor was endorsing those adverts. If anything, it’s self-preservation in practical or business sense, as in “I’m showing my appreciation to make them feel appreciated enough to place ads with us again”.

    It would be an ethical problem if she didn’t make a specific note that people mentioned in her post were her advertisers. Since she did, it’s not a problem. With that in mind, it’s a matter of taste or preference, really. Some don’t mind and some do (I detest advertorials with a thousand burning suns).

    And frankly, a disclaimer in most magazines and blogs is there to protect their skin. If a product is found to be crap, they wouldn’t get the blame or be forced to give a refund even though they had nothing to do with the product in the first place.

    That said, I think I can see where you’re coming from. The usual blog way would be: “my traffic for your money.” But Smart Bitches are “celebrities”, which may add a different aspect.

    Could that be why you feel an advert on their site is an endorsement? In sense of advertisers using leading magazines, celebrity athletes or film/TV celebrities’ names to promote (or validate, even) their products? (Sorry if this question is idiotic!)

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  • sallahdog
    September 29
    12:32 pm

    Karen, you cynical old bastid… Don’t you know there is only 3 people on the internet and we are all fighting with each other? Well… 2 fight and the 3rd tells the other two to “be nice”….

    I ignore advertising, so I ignored this post on SBs also, so this stuff never bothers me… A site has the right to pay their bills and to advertise, and I have the right to ignore it, so its all good with me…

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  • Could that be why you feel an advert on their site is an endorsement? In sense of advertisers using leading magazines, celebrity athletes or film/TV celebrities’ names to promote (or validate, even) their products? (Sorry if this question is idiotic!)

    Not idiotic at all! I hadn’t even thought about the success/celebrity aspect. I’m not a fan of ads on blogs in general, whether they’re hosted by the Smart Bitches or any other blog out there. From an advertiser’s point of view, it makes sense to target high traffic sites, so I pretty much assume a site with a lot of ads has decent traffic.

    As for celebs promoting products: I ignore this. I’ve never bought a product because a certain celebrity endorsed it. But then I am probably weird because I go out of my way to avoid ads online, on TV, and elsewhere. I think it’s because the information given in ads is so often misleading. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to an ad featuring a book cover. I’m referring to ads for, say, cleaning products.

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  • With that in mind, it’s a matter of taste or preference, really. Some don’t mind and some do (I detest advertorials with a thousand burning suns).

    Already, I thought the SB site was heavy on the ads. But the advertorial? How can that be anything other than an attempt to garner more ad revenue by forcing readers who block or skip ads to view them?

    As Maili says, it’s a matter of preference. My strong preference is for fewer ads, less promo, fewer “filler” posts in general, and NO advertorials.

    I don’t know if that blog has really changed over time, or if my blog reading preferences have changed, but … something has.

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  • Why now? Because the Chancery Stone ad is gone.

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  • Not to be contrary (and I can hear my entire family’s snickers all the way to here…)

    Not to be contrary, but I would guess that sites/blogs with really high traffic have to walk on a tight rope. On the one hand, they get said traffic because of their content, but if they are on a free hosting service, too much traffic will exceed their bandwith (or whatever, non-technical moron on this side of the screen, so work with me, people), the site/blog goes down, people get bored of trying to access, they ‘lose’ those readers.

    To keep the readers–for whatever reason, from friendship to prestige to… well, whatever–the answer is paid hosting. Like Karen and DA and SBTB, and others. But not everyone can afford to pay hosting out of pocket, and (ignorance speaking here) I do imagine that more traffic = higher cost, so what’s the blog owner(s) to do?

    Interesting quandary, no?

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  • Anon76
    September 29
    2:30 pm

    Uh, yep, when I saw the SBTB post I immediately thought of you, Karen.

    And I’m with Lori as to the timing. However, if it were me, I wouldn’t have went there at all. Why bring it up now when the other ad in question is history?

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  • Interesting quandary, no?

    It is, and I do understand. The money has to come from somewhere.

    And many people commented on that thread how much they liked the advertorial, not just the advertisers (who, of course LOVE it) but regular readers.

    As for the “endorsement” question, I think there is “endorsing”, “denouncing”, and then an attitude in the middle, which is “neither endorse nor denounce”. I would say it is the last that is implied by ads.

    The reason people didn’t like the Stone ad was perhaps because they felt the attitude of the blog owners should have been to “denounce”, which would mean “rejecting the ad”. Instead they got “neither endorse not denounce”, not good enough for Karen and others.

    Endorse is a strongly positive word. I think it is too strong for the sidebar ads.

    I would say, ironically, that the SB blog comes much closer to “endorsing” its advertisers in an advertorial than in the sidebar.

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  • Oh, let’s be fair here. They have much more important matters to spend their time on than checking the content of every single blasted ad they accept money for. Like heading up the Bill Napoli lynch mob – someone’s got to do it, ’cause nothing says romantical lov’n like Republicans in the oven!

    lol

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  • Karen: Have you emailed Sarah with your thoughts or invited her to speak here about it? I know she has spoken to others in private included myself about the situation.

    I can’t seem to get back to work, so how about a THIRD comment from me? I like this idea. Posting about it is a good way to have your say and hear from us, but it has not worked well for getting the other side of the story.

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  • maddie
    September 29
    4:54 pm

    I think they are still talking out both sides of their mouths, by accepting an ad, and placing that ad on their website, they are doing somewhat an endorsement.

    I’m sure they would not accept from some author who spins a tail two lovers who go about beating up gays and other minorities.

    Sorry but they should have just let it go, because now they look kind of shady to me (shady as in trying to back peddle over the poodle they just ran over)

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  • Janet W
    September 29
    5:10 pm

    Sorry but they should have just let it go

    maddie, trying to figure out what this means … a) they should have not have run an advertorial b) shouldn’t have said an advertorial doesn’t mean an endorsement (and here I agree with Jessica, the advertorial was for me a much stronger statement than simply letting the ads stand on their own or c) they should have said the talked-about ad fell through our cracks and in future we have an editorial/ad board reviewing ad content (to some extent) or d) I completely missed your point?

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  • maddie
    September 29
    5:24 pm

    @Janet W

    b) shouldn’t have said an advertorial doesn’t mean an endorsement

    Because, this is just me but when I see something like an ad on a site it’s there with the approval of the hostess.

    It’s their website so they should know who buys space on their site for promotional purposes.

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  • I would say, ironically, that the SB blog comes much closer to “endorsing” its advertisers in an advertorial than in the sidebar.

    Exactly. To my mind, the advertorial in effect contradicts the sentiments expressed in the disclaimer. Obviously, we’re referencing the Smart Bitches specifically, but I’d apply that to all advertorials, regardless of venue.

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  • Throwmearope
    September 30
    3:09 am

    When I saw the posting over at SBs, I knew immediately it was an indirect response to Karen’s post. For myself, I prefer a more direct approach. (Of course, I am not a professional writer, thank goodness.) I would have preferred SB Sarah posting a reply on your blog, Karen, instead of the advertorial.

    That said, the gist of Sarah’s post seemed to me to be along the lines of, “We are not giving the sidebar ads a ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval(TM).’ ” And I am fine with that. (Don’t ya hate multiple close quotes though?)

    Showcasing the fact that most of the ads were placed by decent human beings is a counter argument, I suppose. How strong an argument, I’m not real sure.

    TC–The SBs don’t have to attack the Repubs anymore, they’re doing to themselves. South Carolina, anyone?

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  • Marianne McA
    September 30
    8:36 am

    I kind of took it that this was the tail end of the Chancery Stone affair – that SBTB might have decided the best course for the blog was to make no public statement, but hereafter quietly keep an eye on who was taking their advertising space. And because they’re checking who their advertisers are now, they had the material to write the piece to hand.

    That’s – obviously – entirely speculation.

    As I said in their comments, I don’t think an advert is an endorsement, and nor do I think an advertorial (lovely word) is quite an endorsement. However, the tone of the piece is warm, and if someone like Chancery Stone was referred to as ‘fine folks’ I would have a reaction against that.

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