Gawker writer Hamilton Nolan says that yesterday he was approached by a marketing firm and asked to insert links to clients into otherwise normal blog posts, for a “generous” payment.
The agency is called 43a (“It’s named after the apartment we started out of,” the emailer told Nolan), and they say they have “some of the biggest clients in the world.”
That said, this understandably seemed like a strange arrangement. Nolan dug deeper and received the following response:
We work with bloggers mainly. That’s not to say we don’t have editors working for us (we work with editors at the Huffington Post, Business Insider and Technorati — to name a few). We generally meet with resistance when dealing with editors, but bloggers aren’t paid as well and most are willing to make some extra money.
What we suggest (as long as you think it won’t get you into any trouble — we don’t want anything that isn’t beneficial for both parties) is trying to drop a link in the article, and seeing if the editor mentions it. If he does, remove the link, and we’ll go our separate ways. If he doesn’t, we’ll pay you handsomely, and we can continue if you want to. We don’t do this for every article, and there is a certain “under the radar” element to it, so you don’t want to over do it.
That said, I also don’t want you in trouble with your editor. So if it can’t be done, just let me know and we’re totally cool with that.
HuffPost, through a spokesperson, and Business Insider, through CEO Henry Blodget, denied the practice.
This is totally ridiculous. If true, it destroys, as Nolan says, “the fundamental (this is a corny and dramatic word, but accurate) sanctity of honest writing in exchange for money.” But it’s so ridiculous we wonder if somebody isn’t being punked. Who on earth would pay for this, and what writer would jeopardize their job by accepting money for ads under the table?