The ragingcow blog got me thinking about the concept of Astroturf blogs (I would call them astroblogs). A lot of people are saying that a blog like ragingcow can’t work and yet, there is a number of discussions about it all over the blogosphere. Now, if it doesn’t work, how come I now know about a product that I didn’t know about a couple of days ago?
I don’t watch TV so television advertising doesn’t work on me. I listen primarily to public radio so, apart from placements in the form of contributions, I can’t be targeted there. I read a paper (the New York Times) every day and a bunch of technical magazines. What I get of pop culture is from flipping through magazines at the supermarket cash register, or reading about it online.
Online, I not only read the mainstream sites but also a number of blogs. I could have been blissfully unaware of the existence of raging cow, had it not been for the pointers to it from several blogs. Does the existence of the blog matter to me? Not really since it’s not a product I would buy. But what about a product I might buy? Would my perception be affected? THIS is the question that I have.
There is no doubt in my mind that marketers have a presence in the blogosphere and will continue to increase. As a result, the line between shills and individuals is going to grow increasingly hazy. If someone goes to a product launch (let’s say a new piece of hardware) and get a goodies bag and some free food and drinks, and then goes and blogs about the event, are they shilling? It’s not clear and that’s what I’m trying to solve with the full disclosure feed. I want to try to establish a way for people to be able to tell that there is a relationship between the writer and the product or site or whatever written about. How can we do that?