NBC Requests Bloggers Pay More Attention To Ad

    January 30, 2006

So, I’ve been running an ad from NBC on my Blogads (they submit, I approve, no significant editorial decision involved).

Now, NBC has sent a letter to the bloggers involved, asking them to post about the subject of the ad. You be the judge.

Dear Bloggers,

NBC would like your help in raising awareness about the dangers to children on the Internet. On Friday, Feb. 3 at 9 p.m., NBC will broadcast part 3 in a Dateline investigative series called “To Catch A Predator.”

Earlier this month Dateline wired a house with hidden cameras and watched as members of an Internet watchdog group, Perverted Justice, pretend to be 12 to 13 year old children chatting online. Within hours, adults solicited the undercover operatives for sex. Some sent graphic sexual images to what they believed were minors. Soon, many of those same men actually show up at the house for a rendezvous with the child. In just three days, this hidden camera investigation exposed 51 men, giving viewers a frightening glimpse at how widespread this problem is.

NBC is also adding an interactive element to this broadcast. Dateline correspondent Chris Hansen will participate in a live blog during the show, offering anecdotes, behind-the-scenes information and answers to viewer questions. In addition to the live blog, NBC has prepared an information page that including online safety tips, links and an Internet safety contract for parents and kids (scroll to the bottom of http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10912603/).

If your blog’s subject matter is in any way related to technology, family or the Internet, NBC would like to encourage you to start a conversation with your readers about the dangers of the Internet for children. Please don’t feel obligated to promote Dateline. All we ask is that you help raise awareness around this issue. And if you have any comments you think NBC or other viewers will find useful, please participate in the live on-air blog.

Thank you.

Jon Accarino

Forget about the subject. I realize that this is about protecting children from predators, but NBC didn’t send this out of the goodness of their heart, but for PR. Its not a bad idea, assuming some major blogger decides to do it. However, what if a blogger you respected, who blogged about an unrelated subject, like baseball, interrupts you with a post about a Dateline interview? What if you realized that there was a paid ad for the interview in the sidebar? Would you trust that blogger to honestly draw the line between paid and editorial content?

I’m not sure I would.

I don’t fault NBC for doing this. I think every advertiser on my blog should send me a pitch when (or better, before) they buy an ad, with no expectation of payback. I hope that if someone were to write about that pitch, they be transparent and point out the ad in their sidebar. I think NBC should have went the Marquis route, financing the discussion, so it was clear that the content is sponsored. I don’t think anyone can write about what the email writes, without mentioning the letter, and retain their credibility.

And I realize that by writing this, I’m playing right into their hands. I’m being upfront, and I’m not interested in what they wrote about. I find the idea interesting, especially since I was in the Marquis program, and, more importantly, I’m hoping other find this interesting enough to discuss and link to (:-)).

And here’s the free plug: Perverted Justice rocks! They do a good thing, and are hilarious while at it. Opie and Anthony turned me onto them.

Oops. I think I gave NBC’s plug to someone else. Sorry, I’m all out.

UPDATE: Responding to Steve Rubel’s post, I realize I left out something very important: The email was sent by Nick Faber, an employee of Blogads, by Blogads on behalf of NBC. A less savvy blogger might think that he was somehow obligated by taking the money from NBC to do what they say.

Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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