Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Versus Viral Marketing Plan

I received an email a couple days ago from the Versus TV station. They are asking me to promote their playoff hockey coverage using their content. They offer press releases, banners and NHL playoff video anthems. These can be found here. In exchange for doing their marketing, I can be given "Thank You items" that include Versus Hockey - Air hockey puck ice trays and mallet and Versus NHL playoff posters. If my site goes "above and beyond" in promoting the playoffs on Versus I can receive merchandise including jerseys autographed by (Ryan? - they only give last names) Miller, Zach Parise and Martin St Louis and other autographed hockey memorabilia.

Here (April 15th post I don't know how to bring it up without the entire monthy archive) is an example of a blog running a Versus press release, although he has done a good job of balancing it with other television networks as well. Here is another less classy shill job for Versus.

This is not the first time that Versus has used this marketing plan. During the All Star Weekend they did the same thing. This got them some blog coverage such as this.

Although it might be a good thing for Versus and the NHL to try to get their message out through viral marketing, it is bad for the independent blogosphere. You read very positive advertisements for hockey on Versus and think a blogger wrote them, but it compromises the integrity of an independant blogosphere. Blogs used to advertise for the Versus or the NHL will not be critical when it is needed. It shuts sown a lot of the independant thought surrounding hockey. That is a bad thing. The biggest power of hockey blogs is that they are independent. Many writers exist who do not make a livelihood from writing. They do it because they love hockey and want to share their opinions. Those that gain a readership are the good ones that people want to follow. When the NHL or Versus provide prizes for spreading their stories, it compromises those blogs who partake. I do not like this marketing plan and I thought it was best to make it known to anyone who happens to read this post.

If money were involved, I'd agree with you. But it's not. And all the little incentives are pretty pathetic. Believe me. The "All Star jersey" I got for putting up an ASG ad in January was nothing more than a Devils jersey with a Versus logo on it instead of the Devils'. Plus, it was from the 2006-2007 ASG.

So, I don't post Versus ads for the incentives. It's about getting the word out about the only national broadcasts of hockey during the week.

If bloggers don't take a hand in pointing people to Versus, we're a bunch of hypocrites when we talk about how no one knows about it.
Do you actually believe that people read hockey blogs on the internet but don't know how to find NHL playoff games on TV?
One can always promote the league without doing a rip-and-read from a Versus press release. The information is out there, and not terribly hard to find. And it's not like any of us work at a major media outlet where we oversee dozens of stories each day. Even with two authors, my blog only averages a little over a post per day.
Well, at least they are trying to do something........of course, here in Canada, we cant even GET Versus...although we do get some of their feeds from TSN.
I had an ad year round for Versus anyways, mainly because I also watch (and attend) a few of the cycling events they host, watch (and will attend in Sac) their WEC mixed martial arts, and watch the Baja Rally, boxing, and pac-10 big-12 sports.

They asked me to use one of their banners instead, which I did. And they asked me to link or mention some of the information from the press release about their Stanley Cup Playoff coverage, and if I can't find that online I usually do that as well. I have spoken with Comcast and Verizon in the past, and was a beta viewer for Hulu, so I decided to throw everything I could find in one post as sort of an information dump and to learn about some of the options I had not looked into.

In the past, Versus has given me VS related gear to hand out fans at HP Pavilion, which I also mailed to a few people in Anaheim. Anything they mail me for the banner ad I will give to fans in San Jose as well. Not really any conflict of interest, and with the big blockquotes and links I think you can source that information for yourself.

Puck Stops Here, I would say half of my regular season viewers or close to it are from Canada and Europe, so many of them do know about a lot of the different options for viewers in the U.S.
Oh, and a few posts below the one you link to I stated pretty clearly how I cooperated with Versus/OLN over the years:

Also, the information is not even available on the Versus website press section, only in a word document on the Sinuate Media website. So now it is a little more easily available, which was the point in the first place.
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