The title, which is a quote from the movie casablanca, is what came to mind tonight when I read the complete train wreck occuring on TechMeme over advertisements that contain a written message from the publisher. The whole thing was started by Valleywag of course.
The ads in question are a staple of FM Publishing – a standard ad unit contains a quote by the publisher saying something about something. It isn’t a direct endorsement. It certainly isn’t a product endorsement. Rather, it’s usually an answer to some lame slogan created by the advertiser. It makes the ad more personal and has a higher click through rate, or so we’ve been told. In the case of the Microsoft ad, we were quoted how we had become “people ready,” whatever that means. See our answer and some of the others here (I think it will be hard to find this text controversial, or anything other then extremely boring). We do these all the time…generally FM suggests some language and we approve or tweak it to make it less lame. The ads go up, we get paid. This has been going on for months and months – at least since the summer of 2006. It’s nothing new. It’s text in an ad box. I think people are pretty aware of what that means…which is nothing.
Let me reiterate. It’s an ad unit. You know what goes on in ad units? Advertising.
Valleywag says its wrong. Om Malik, an innocent babe in the woods when it comes to being on the receiving end of valleywag attacks, folded, apologized and had the ads pulled. Someone over at CNET jumped on the bandwagon, saying we were all pimping advertisers slogans. He emailed us (I was driving to Foo camp and offline), and shortly thereafter wrote “surprise, surprise–heard nothing back.” Yeah, that’s me, shrinking from controversy and afraid to answer emails. I just wrote back to the reporter, calling him an idiot for falling into this trap.
Even Dave Winer threw a few logs on the fire, while acknowledging that Valleywag is generally full of shit.
So here’s my position on all of this: Go pound sand. People understand that if there’s text in an ad box, someone is paying for it to be there.
The main thing I’m pissed off about right now is that they pulled all the ads, which mean we’re taking a revenue hit. We’re running a business here, and have payroll to make. We run ads to make that payroll. Those ads have now been pulled.
And perhaps Malik, Wilson and Kedrosky, who’ve all complimented and often linked to valleywag and have never been on the receiving end of their attacks before today, will realize how quickly that dog will turn on you. Valleyway picks its fights carefully, always attacking competitors but one at a time, while praising the rest of the crowd to keep them at bay. It’s high school bullying 101. And it works just as well in the blogging world as it did back then before we knew better. Divide and conquer. Shameful for those who sit on the sidelines and watch it all happen. And all of these guys have done exactly that.