When Is an Ad Not an Ad?

When it’s part of a blog post.

The other day, I was contacted by e-mail by someone who claimed to represent an advertising company that bought text ads on small blogs. They were interested in placing an ad on Maria’s Guides.

I was interested. It’s always nice to make a few bucks with advertising. I replied that I was interested but did not accept ads for pharmaceuticals, casinos/gambling, or sex/dating services. He got back to me within 24 hours and told me the rate they’d pay, which was agreeable, and the fact that they just wanted to ad to appear in one post on the site.

That should have started alarm bells ringing, but it didn’t. I had another advertiser some time ago who bought 10 ads, each on a different post. Targeting, I supposed.

He got back to me the next day with the text of the ad. It was about three sentences, one of which included a link to some kind of mobile Internet service. The ad was written in first person and ended with a the phrase “[Redacted company name] gets a big thumbs up in my book.”

I read the instructions. They wanted me to place the text of the ad, with its link, in the middle of a paragraph of blog post text. As if it were part of the post and I was the one giving the thumbs up.

I wrote back:

I don’t think you understand. I agreed to an advertisement. I didn’t agree to modify my blog post’s text to apparently recommend an organization I know nothing about.

I wouldn’t mind putting similar text — without the recommendation — in a box floating “above the fold” within the post. That box would be titled “Sponsored Link” or something similar. But I will NOT put it into the post itself as if I wrote it.

Obviously, he wasn’t interested in an advertisement. He was interested in a paid endorsement. He wrote back to thank me and let me know he’d remove me from his contact list.

I guess some bloggers will do anything for a few bucks. I won’t.

4 thoughts on “When Is an Ad Not an Ad?

  1. Very admirable, what you did.

    The way that guy dealt with you made it all the more clearly that his company is not worth endorsing.

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