Someone’s Astroturfing Demand Media

The following two emails independently crossed my desktop this past week:

Hello Peter!

Kate here, and we’ve found an interesting infographic that I think you might enjoy. If you haven’t heard already, Demand Media has been in the news a lot lately. But just exactly why were they? Well, to enlighten you, or to recap all the facts, all of the necessary information regarding Demand Media was included, from the costs to what it means for you as a reader of the daily news. You can check it out here:

onlinemba.com/demand-media-breaking-the-bank/

Anyways, just thought this might be of interest to you. If you’d like other infographics such as these, or if you also have an infographic you think I’d might like, let me know!

Thanks,


Kate
twitter.com/katehersch

And this:

Hey Peter,

With the recent Google algorithm change specifically targeting content farms, one of the biggest culprits was Demand Media. The purpose was to devalue poor content and improve the valuation of good content news, thereby changing how the search results were displayed. This meant that Demand Media’s properties were directly influenced/hit. However, even with the change, Demand Media is still alive and kicking. But exactly what do they do, and how do they do it? Well, we’ve created this infographic to show you just how their business model works. It lends insight to all you need to know about Demand Media.

You can check out the graphic here: onlinemba.com/demand-media-breaking-the-bank/

Let me know what you think, as I know I was surprised to learn all this.

Thanks!


Rebecca,
twitter.com/rluzenski

Upon receipt, I thanked them for sending and asked if they worked for Demand Media. Here’s how they responded:

Hi Peter,

You’re welcome, and I hope you liked the graphic. =)
I don’t do this as my job, I just like to collect interesting infographics. I stumbled into your site, and thought this one might interest you. That’s all! I hope you find some use for it!

Have a great day,
Kate

And this:

Hi again,

Oh, no, I don’t work for Demand. I just stumbled onto your site, and thought this graphic might interest you. That’s all! I hope you liked the infographic. =)

Have a great day,
Rebecca

WTF?

We all know that Google recently tweaked its search algorithm, which purportedly resulted in significant traffic losses at the major “low cost content farms,” including Demand Media. This initial spate of deleterious media coverage led to an all-out media blitz by Demand’s CEO Richard Rosenblatt decrying the notion.

Here’s the headline from BusinessInsider’s Henry Blodget’s piece:

“DEMAND MEDIA: Ha! Google’s Huge Algorithm Change Hasn’t Hurt Our Business At All.”

But did Rosenblatt authorize his communications team or agency to unleash randoids under the guise of ordinary citizens to opaquely engage bloggers, yours truly among them? I thought this kind of insidious activity went the way of the Wal-Mart van mall tour.

The company says no. I received an email from Demand Media’s CMO who also is befuddled by the source of this less-than-flattering infographic. He writes:

“We have been tracking the dissemination of the infographic across the web for the past couple of weeks. It definitely seems like somebody with a vested interest is out there promoting it. But it surely isn’t us!”

I’m still sleuthing a bit to try to get to the bottom of these supposedly independent pitches. To this end, I did notice on the second email an opt-out option from Social Media Today (to which I periodically contribute) and Consumer Media Network. It read:

If you would rather not receive future communications from Social Media Today, please go to http://ConsumerMediaNetwork.pr-optout.com/OptOut.aspx?

Consumer Media Network chief Muhammad Saleem today (Wednesday) informed me that his company has nothing to do with this.

Ironically, I did end up tweeting a link to the infographic after receiving the first email. It wasn’t until the send crossed my desktop that my astroturfing antennae went up.

2 Comments

  1. flatironnyc
    April 1, 2011

    Good point Ike. I thoiught I’d let it speak for itslelf.  I still don’t know who’s behind the pitch. Weird.   

  2. Ike
    March 31, 2011

    Peter, you didn’t even touch the notion that the “infographic” is neither informative nor graphically pleasing.