CNN Viral Anti-Marketing Blog Spamming Campaign?

from the say-what? dept

John submitted this bizarre story apparently making its way rapidly around the blogworld suggesting that CNN may have been involved in a viral anti-marketing blog spamming campaign. The idea is that they went looking for blog posts that were critical of CNN (not too hard, I imagine) and posted something that looked to be in agreement, highlighting a specific show, with the idea of making it seem extra controversial. It sounds like they might have gotten away with it (Scooby Doo ending here...) if only they hadn't also keyword stuffed the post -- clearly making it spam. Of course, a lot of what's in the post exposing this story is still conjecture about the motives of whoever was involved in the process. It's entirely possible that it wasn't CNN at all -- but either way, the pattern described is somewhat odd. While blog comment spamming has been around for a while, it at least sounds like some less-than-above-board marketers of more legitimate companies are experimenting with the tactic. Given this and the likely growth of tag spam, it certainly suggests that one of the biggest issues when you have a very writable web is going to be dealing with the spam.

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  • identicon
    Lucas, 26 Apr 2005 @ 10:42am

    Proof?

    While I understand the potential motivation CNN would have for spamming blogs, it seems more likely that a severe case of boredom would be responsible for this. Bored people do strange things.

    Also, Nick Lewis provides no evidence that CNN was responsible, but instead just jumps to conclusions. While I am not passing judgment on CNN one way or the other, you should always be prepared to provide proof before making any type of allegation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 26 Apr 2005 @ 10:50am

      Re: Proof?

      Yeah, in our post, we made it very clear that this is conjecture at this point and there's no proof. Did we not make it clear enough?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lucas, 26 Apr 2005 @ 10:59am

        Re: Proof?

        You were quite clear on the fact that it was conjecture - there was nothing wrong with your reporting of the facts. However, Nick Lewis jumps rather quickly from CNN blog spam to an imagined conversation between marketers.

        My point was simply that without proof, I would attribute this spam to someone's idea of being funny. Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    NIck Lewis, 26 Apr 2005 @ 1:25pm

    Re: CNN guerrilla spam

    Lucas, your criticism is fair. However, in my defense, understand that I'm just a little blogger. CNN or the PR people who might be working for CNN don't exactly jump at the opprotunity to talk to a small blogger, unless they have to.

    The only tools i had to uncover this were technorati, pluck, google, blogpulse, and then the wealth of knowledge on the INternet about P.R. practices, Guerrilla marketing, viral marketing tactics ect...

    My goal was to publish something sufficently compelling as to create a buzz, and thereby catch the attention of a journalist who could get access to CNN PR people and get to the bottom of this story.

    I do believe this was CNN; my reasons being that targetting 14 bloggers who had negative Opinions of CNN is an odd thing to do, as a prank. In addition, leaving those search terms was a very clever strategy; it could have been stupidity, however given the targeted nature of these spams, I'm tempted to say it wasn't.

    In addition, when you read the spams, you don't get the impression that they are written by a whacko. Actually, you get the impression that your reading a marketer who is putting a lot of effort into blending in. Its not a coincidence that the so called negative opinions in the spam happen to be the chief selling points of CNN primetime, for example:

    "They even constantly have on NANCY GRACE (talk about trashy, she is the queen of trash)."

    "they have this format that focuses on entertainment news and gossip. It is awful...worse than FoxNews...Actually it is more like The Enquirer meets Fox News."

    "Please, if you have not yet seen prime time tonight...check it out tonight. It is usually on later in the evening. After you have seen this garbage, try telling me that I am wrong."

    Its no secret that gossip and trash gets high ratings. The conversation that I made up with the marketer was speculation, however I thought it explained why this strategy works rather well.

    In any case, I've successfully gotten this story on the radar, and professional journalists are now investigating it. They are now getting the answers that I could not get. So whatever the truth is, we'll all know soon enough.

    BTW, thanks for the mention, Mike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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