Sunday, August 26, 2007

Is “Conversational Marketing” Already Dead?

Federated Media (FM) is an advertising network launched completely under the premise of “conversational marketing”. I was disappointed with the way FM founder John Battelle handled the big “People Ready” campaign dustup earlier this summer.

I’m even more disappointed that for the last month or so whether it’s on TechCrunch, GigaOm or Fred Wilson’s AVC, all the FM ads are traditional. I don’t have any problem if the new definition of conversational marketing is “advertising traditionally on blogs that are conversational,” but my sense is that isn’t what Battelle really is going for. But since right after the “People Ready” dust-up, he hasn’t said anything about it.

Earlier today I saw an ad for a summit on conversational marketing that FM is holding in a few weeks. I saw the ad on Advertising Age and now I notice it’s on Fred’s blog as well. But before blowing $900 on the “summit”, I’m interested to know what FM’s business model actually is.

If it’s to create new types of ad campaigns that are anything but traditional, the $900 may be well worth it. But if the model for FM is to simply be the best place to advertise traditionally within the blog and social networking world, I’m not so sure. Both are interesting businesses, but the former is far more interesting to me than the latter and if it’s the latter, I’m not sure there’s really anything to be learned from the summit. If it’s the former, why do all the current campaigns seem to be so traditional?

I wish John Battelle would be conversational about it via a blog posting before anyone shells out the $900 to learn something. As these “summits” are almost always really about networking and not learning anything, I would not discourage you from attending on that basis. But if the goal is to learn something, I’d like to understand why all FM’s ad campaigns currently seem so traditional first. From FM’s homepage:

At FM, we believe that the best conversations are those where all parties are engaged, informed, and valued. Working with our marketing and publishing partners, Federated Media is helping to define this innovative form of online marketing: a three-way dialog among creators, audiences, and marketers.

I’m not currently seeing the innovation or the three-way dialog. Not even a little. If that’s just FM retooling post “People Ready”, fine, but I sure wish FM/Battelle would be, uh, a little more conversational about it.

P.S.FM just raised another $4.5MM of funding
P.P.S is there really no Wikipedia entry for conversational marketing?


John Battelle said...

Hey man - happy to talk about it. I've posted about it a lot - on Searchblog and on the FM site. So has Chas on ChasNote. Feel free to call or email me - contact info is on both sites too!

Allen said...

I think it's probably dead (for now) because no sponsors are interested for now. This is why you see Morgan Webb's face on every site. Can't fill the ads. At least Morgan will get the diggers to watch her show.

I am guessing in the fall we will see more of this as advertisers ramp back up.

At least you got John to comment on your blog - he ignored mine :)