How Forbes is Killing its Credibility: BrandVoice (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1, as well as more context on BrandVoice.

According to Phil Fersht’s blog, HfS, Forbes BrandVoice has 33 active advertisers as of late January 2013. The site generates 150,000 hits a month on average (materially less than the sum of Spend Matters Network sites – which we suppose is good news for us). Phil quotes in his article that SAP is the longest-term “participant” on BrandVoice. They’ve been paying for content placement “since the beginning and average about 60% of all hits to BrandVoice columns.”

SAP has high hopes for the program, and Phil suggests that the venerable ERP and applications giant “aspires to turn 10% of its Forbes readers into what it calls ‘marketable contacts,’ but right now that number is somewhere between 2% and 10%.” According to Phil, BrandVoice is key to Forbes growth strategy, as it is expected to generate “25% of all revenues in 2013, up from 10% this year.”

For SAP and others, just what type of content is game for advertisers to put on BrandVoice? As one potential advertiser tells Phil, “They do have specific writing and content guidelines, yet there is no vetting process whatsoever. Vendors can publish anything through the WordPress site. I get the impression that only after someone calls out an egregious post will they do anything. There is no filter, no vetting … it is very much like the Wild West …”

Here at Spend Matters, we’re in somewhat of a privileged position of knowing how traditional media placement works in the B2B area, having been on both the receiving and the contributing end of it over the years. I’ve personally been a guest contributor to a bunch of trade rags since early in my career, and I can say that former and current B2B publishers such as CMP, ZDNet and the like are always looking for quality content but will make a focused attempt to avoid any type of pay-to-play situation. So too will higher quality pubs like Supply Chain Management Review.

There are many others who are blatantly pay-to-play, and some contributors to the aforementioned sites have been accused, rightly or not, of such a model a well. Yet as Forbes proves, an established brand means nothing in proving out a credible, objective online blog model.

Stay tuned for our final take on the subject later this week.

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