I was alerted to this a few days ago by Nathalie, and after witnessing it with my own eyes — well, I’m going to go to bed a little later to blog about it, after all.
After preparing to slap ads in our comment RSS feeds, coComment is staying on the same ugly and obviously slippery slope by inserting ads in the cocobar:
So, slightly more discreet than the big banners placed in the RSS feed, but not in very good taste either. Here are some examples of scrolling ad text:
- “Want fast fitness results? Click for free info, revolutionary products.”
- “Walk on the well placed warmth of radiant heating. Click now!”
- “Free comparison of top car rental companies. Click here!”
- “Click to create your dream holiday trip now.”
- “Easy-to-use, advanced features, flexible phone systems. Click for more info.”
- “Visa, MasterCard, AMEX & Discover. Compare Offers & Apply Online. Click here!”
Reloading a cocobar-enabled page will provide you with hours of endless entertainment. (I’m kidding — but there are more out there, of course.)
Now, I understand that coComment needs to “monetize”, though one could question a business model which seems to be based on revenue from scrolling ads and blinking banners. (I can’t remember who said “if your business model is putting ads in your service, think again”.)
There are ads and ads, though. Here’s a sample of banners from the coComment site:
The screen captures don’t render the blinking quality of most of these ads, but I guess your imagination can fill in. Now, does anybody else than me feel that this kind of advert is just about one step above spam? Based on a few of the comments I can read on the post Matt wrote about the “harsh realities” of advertising, it seems not:
With all honesty, the banners displayed on the cocomment site are awful and are making the service look VERY unprofessional – totally agree with “disappointed” on this one. Few will argue that perception is 99% of reality, so with those banner ads making the site look like crap, the whole service becomes questionable. I felt like I was about to get a trojan into my computer when I first saw www.cocomment.com
there are other advertising partners that don’t crap up your web site with ads that flash in your face. most opensource projects are using google ad sens now (just an example) that displays relevant ads that look very subtle.
I agree with some of the commenters here about the ad selection. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were unobtrusive AdWords or… something a little classier. It cheapens your brand. Think upscale! Or, at least, more upscale.
Allan White, in comment
Yes, there are ads and ads. These ones definitely make coComment look very cheap and dodgy, and I’m not sure it would encourage users to hand over credit card details to pay for an ad-free version. Also, what’s with the Hot For Words thing? I’m sorry, but this is not my world. coComment has obviously moved into a space which is very alien to my beloved blogosphere.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to state that you want to have a conversation to actually be having one (I guess that for starters, that last post would have pointed to the post of mine that contributed to prompt it). A conversation starts with listening and caring, and obviously, despite their efforts to prove the contrary, the coComment team sadly don’t get this.
What could they have done? Well, I’m not going to launch into a session of full-blown strategic consulting for an ex-client of mine (who didn’t seem to value my advice much at the time), but simple things like taking up issues such as the arrival of advertising with the people who use the service before actually dumping ads in their feeds unannounced could be a way of showing you care a little bit about how they feel. Understanding that apologies and justifications when you mess up do not erase the past also seems like a good idea. As my friend Brian Solis put it:
Making mistakes in social media is a lot like sticking daggers into a wooden fence. Just because you apologize and pull them out, they still leave the scars for others to see, and feel. Sometime apologies help people feel better, but they don’t fix perception. This is why thinking before engaging is critical to success in the world social media marketing. This is after all, about people.
So, as I told Brian, coComment and I are headed for Breakup 2.0: when the social media tools you loved don’t love you back (yes, you can quote that one, it’s from me).
At the moment, I’m only using the service to “save” the comments I make, because I like keeping a trace of my writings (I used to collect stamps). Sadly, I’m not even sure coComment will allow me to walk out with all my data in an XML dump — I don’t see anything obvious in the interface for that, so if I am able to, it will probably be due to my relationships with the people who have access to the server. (I said “if”.)
The tracking feature is too confusing and overloaded for me to use — I can imagine using something like co.mments to keep an eye on the small number of conversations where I’m on the lookout for an answer. But I don’t have an alternate solution for “capturing” the comments I make. Copy-paste is a bit of a bore, and del.icio.us doesn’t capture the comment content — just the fact that there is a comment.
I’ve been thinking up an idea involving a Firefox add-on. It would have a bunch of algorithms to detect comments fields (maybe would support some microformat allowing to identify comment feeds or forms), have a simple on/off toggle to “activate” the field for capture (some right-click thing, much more practical than a bookmarklet or a browser button, because it’s always there, handy, wherever you click), would colour the field in something really visible when capture is on (red! pink! green!) without disrupting readability (I need to see what I type). It would capture the comment, permalink, blog post name (it knows I’m the commenter, I could fill in that info in the add-on settings), and dump the info in an XML or RSS file, or in the database of my WordPress installation, with the help of a WordPress plugin.