Jason Del Rey at Ad Age follows the money on a claim that Microsoft will spend between $1.5 and $1.8 billion on its Windows 8 ad campaign, a figure cited as fact by TechCrunch and The Verge:
The outlet cited for that estimate? Forbes. Which is kinda, sorta true.
A post on Forbes.com by Dave Einstein does indeed say that Microsoft “will roll out with a marketing campaign estimated at $1.5 to $1.8 billion.” But Mr. Einstein isn’t a Forbes journalist; he’s a freelancer hired by data-storage company – and Forbes advertiser – NetApp to write for NetApp’s blog on Forbes.com, part of Forbes’ BrandVoice (formerly AdVoice) program, for which advertisers pay to publish posts on the site.
Del Rey chalks this up to the “new, new world of media,” but I’d say this is simply a journalistic failure on all accounts. Einstein’s piece does appear under the Forbes banner, a dicy game for Forbes’ editorial wing. Of course, there is a nice little icon for BrandVoice with a helpful drop-down that states the following:
Forbes BrandVoice™ allows marketers to connect directly with the Forbes audience by enabling them to create content – and participate in the conversation – on the Forbes digital publishing platform. Each BrandVoice™ is written, edited and produced by the marketer.
The tiniest bit of elbow-grease from any one of the outlets that cited Einstein’s post would have revealed that Forbes did not break this news, which of course throws into question its veracity.
But anyway, I need to just fall in line with the new, new media, I guess, where anyone with a big enough check can fool bloggers into thinking an ad is actually news.