Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Does Ad Age simply not get social media?

If you've read The Viral Garden for a while, you know that I was a bit critical of Ad Age when they first started using the Power 150 on their site. Honestly, I don't read the site very often, but today I decided to peruse the site and I found a few articles I liked, and commented on a couple of them.

Although I had registered with Ad Age years ago, I probably hadn't left a comment there in 2-3 years. So after I left a couple of comments, I realized that I should probably update my profile information so that it included a link back to when I left a comment.

And that's when I realized something. Check the below screenshot I took of the comments section of one of the articles I replied to:

Check out the names of the commenters circled in red. More specifically, check out what is MISSING in those red circles. That's right, there's no link given when a person comments on a post. But there IS a link give to the comment itself. If you click on the timestamp to the right of your name, you are then given a unique link to the comment you just wrote.

So Ad Age won't let you link back to your site when you write a comment, but they WILL let you link back to YOUR COMMENT. So they see your commenting as a way for them to gain more links back to their site, with none for you.

How very Web 1.0 of them.

A very basic rule of social media marketing is that you want to encourage and reward the behavior that you are wanting customers/visitors to engage in. Ad Age should want more comments on its articles for several reasons:

  • More comments = More traffic. We want to read posts/articles that have vibrant discussions.
  • More comments = More comments. If I see that a post has a vibrant discussion, I am more likely to read it, and more likely to add my 2 cents.
  • More comments = More links. Articles that have a great discussion makes it more likely that I will promote that article to my networks.
  • More comments = More value. A vibrant discussion in the comments improves the overall value to the reader.
  • More comments = More subscribers. If Ad Age is consistently creating content that has vibrant discussions in the comments, I am more likely to subscribe to that content.
So if getting more comments per article is a GOOD thing, why wouldn't you go out of your way to reward visitors that are engaging in that behavior? Besides that, adding a link back to my site via my name in the comments is a very simple way to say 'Thank You'.

Come on, Ad Age.


ketelsen said...

kinda makes ya want to have the ability to DELETE your comments-snub em if you will.

Mack Collier said...

The funny thing is, I had already scheduled a tweet linking to one of their articles for tomorrow morning.

I deleted it. Yes it's completely me acting like a 5 year-old, but it did feel good ;)

Belly Feathers said...

Mack, I completely agree with you. Over the last two years or so, it has become really apparent how out of touch AdAge really is on everything from article content to comments. It's gone from a must read daily to an every once in awhile read. Sad because it was one of my favorites!

Michelle Sloan said...


When I first started reading Ad Age, I loved it! But I too have noticed that some of their practices don't seem quite right or up to par with the world around them...especially with social media. I don't blame you for deleting your scheduled tweet. :) At this point I could almost probably go without ever reading them again, but on the flip side, they do share some interesting stuff from time to time.

Abbey Klaassen said...

Mack, I'm sorry you feel that way. We actually saw your tweet about this yesterday and it started an internal email chain about what it would take to do this. Truth is, it's a change we have to make to the registration process, which is a corporate solution used by all Crain pubs. But we're going to talk to them about it. Anyway, point is we heard you and we're working on it. (A lot of folks already add a URL to their comments, but we recognize that if there are ways to make this easier we'll try to do it.)

I am surprised by the charge that we simply don't get social media because of this particular issue -- I think that's a pretty broad brushstroke and I'd argue we've done some very smart stories about how marketers are using social media both effectively and ineffectively. (In fact, I think we've interviewed you before.) Anyway, we're pretty good about monitoring feedback in the social-media sphere but I do want you to know that in the future you are always welcome to reach out directly when you have an idea of how we should improve ad age for you and the rest of our audience.

abbey klaassen
editor, ad age

Mack Collier said...

Abbey thanks for commenting, I appreciate that!

Let me give you a bit of background on my thinking here. I linked to a post I wrote back I think in 2007 or so when Ad Age started the Power 150.

In 2006 shortly after this blog launched, I started a weekly list of the 'Top 25 Marketing Blogs', at the time, ranked according to Alexa, then later Technorati, then finally Feedburner. The list quickly became very popular, and I mostly did it as a way to help readers find more good blogs besides the top 3 or 4 that everyone read like Seth and Guy, etc.

I think about 6 months after I started the Top 25, Todd Andrik started his Power 150, which Ad Age later bought the rights to use on their site. When this happened, I wrote multiple posts both here and on Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog praising the move, because at the time we were told by Ad Age that this move signaled that the site was taking the blogosphere seriously, and would use the poll as a way to draw attention to the bloggers featured.

To me, this made perfect sense. When Ad Age was writing articles, they could then reach out to Power 150 bloggers, when appropriate, to get 'expert quotes' from them, to add to their stories. This would improve the quality of Ad Age's articles, and it would also give more exposure to deserving bloggers, which is what Ad Age told us would happen.

Unfortunately, several months passed and I began to notice that this didn't seem to be happening. There were plenty of ways for bloggers to promote their being ON the Power 150, such as that nifty badge we could put on our blogs, but Ad Age itself didn't seem to be making a bigger commitment to showcase the bloggers on the Power 150, as we were led to believe would happen. Sure, a few bloggers that were also known in the digital space, such as Steve Rubel, Joe Jaffe and David Armano were mentioned, but they had been mentioned before the Power 150 went up.

So that was why I wrote the post I linked to in this post. And as I stated in the post, since the Power 150 episode a few years ago, I really haven't paid much attention to Ad Age. That's why I was wondering how much Ad Age 'gets' social media, because to me, the last real exposure I had to them was when the dust-up over Power 150 was going on, now fast forward to this. So it's not an 'isolated' case to me.

And I will admit that it's a bit unfair to assume that nothing has changed at Ad Age in how you guys are now covering bloggers in your stories, and that's why I didn't mention that. I hope that bloggers featured in the Power 150 are getting more coverage in your articles than they previously did.

Sorry for the long-winded reply, Abbey, but wanted you to understand why I wrote this post, and to explain that I wasn't viewing this as an isolated experience. I hope that's fair, but if you don't think it is I'll be happy to discuss it more with you here or feel free to email me at


Connie Reece said...

I'm glad Ad Age is listening and commented here. I do read Ad Age regularly (love their iPhone app) but rarely comment, and the lack of a link is one of the reasons. It's great that they've started an in-house discussion on how to get this changed.

Mike Handy said...

I cant wait until Disqus is the standard... I use it on my site and I would never go back! Ad Age is using an old system and the goal is control.. they dont want people gaining a following by posting insightful comments on a regular basis.

Patrick Allmond said...

Kudos to AdAge on the response. This doesn't have a thing to do with social media - unless we are going to continue the practice of saying everything is social media. Everything is not social media. This is a simple technical link issues and it is not hard to fix.

It is irritating when people are unhappy with something they throw around "xxxx company doesn't get social media". I see that in situations like this. I also see it when a company doesn't have a certain features on their website, or they don't have a Twitter acct, or they don't have a Facebook page, or they don't respond to your email in a timely manner. The standard should not be "Because they don't have a feature I like they must not get social media".

Social Media is a mindset when it comes to marketing and advertising. It is not defined by a particular technical feature.

And please don't jump to Disqus. It is a mistake to outsource your commenting system to a 3rd party. You lose all kinds of control such as being able to make your own customizations.


Jay Baer said...

Really glad you put this out there Mack, as it's bugged me for years too. Delighted that Abbey commented. The fact that it's part of Crain's old school content management system isn't really a particular sound defense in the latter half of 2010, but at least they're listening.

Andrew said...

Adage system seems a bit selfish. They just want all the links for themselves, which is not good. "Do unto others what you want them to do unto you" or else you'll be existing alone in your own world. I hope they have already taken steps to correct it.

Sherman Unkefer said...

I agree with you Mack and it's certainly not doing Ad Age any favors - even Abbey's response doesn't address the issue. I do not comment to them for the simple fact that they are not helping my SEO at all.

Brad Fallon said...

Really glad AdAge responded but I'm disappointed that they still don't seem to get it. Hopefully, they'll catch up with everyone else.

Pablo Edwards said...

Any chance of seeing more of you this fall. Miss the insights.

CORE said...

It's great that they've started an in-house discussion on how to get this changed. U do appreciate your comment.

Penina said...

I hope I'm not too late to the conversation, but I'd like to weigh in with this perspective:

It appeared to me to be more of an oversight on the part of Ad Age, rather than a conscious decision to selfishly rake in links. The fact they are listening, and responded graciously, confirms that for me.

Ad Age is a lot of people and part of a corporate structure. That's something to which I can relate. We've got loose hairs everywhere over here in my world :-)

I realize I am very likely being naive, but I'd like to give them just a bit more benefit of the doubt, and watch the conversation.

Will you keep us posted, Mack?

Xavier Izagurre said...

Oh c;mon AdAge doesn't get social media because of this, this is ridiculous.

Not allowing backlinks on comments is done I would bet, simply to combat commentspam.

And then, don't you know most comment links are nofollow? What is your benefit then? I can always google your name if I want to go to your site, can't I?

Perhaps you have grounds to complain but writing a whole blog post and headline it "AdAge doesn't get social media" is well troll-like.

Yes, you should have gone to them first...

Overseas Moving said...

It's great that they've started an in-house discussion on how to get this changed.

geo-targeted seo said...

Ad Age is using an old system and the goal is control.