Kara Swisher

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More on Chatty Marketing … Blah, Blah, Blah

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Is there a trend in my post yesterday about the deal former Hollywood execs Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman struck with Pepsi to make original online content that the entertainment and marketing arm of the beverage giant will have a chance to fund and sponsor?

“We want to create great online content … and also something that is more than a glorified Internet ad at the same time,” said Braun to me yesterday. “So we’ll work with Pepsi hand-in-hand to bake new kinds of ad solutions right in organically at the earliest possible moment.”

What struck me was that this was also the same line being touted by Facebook ad sales majordomo Mike Murphy, whom I interviewed Tuesday about what it will take to make the popular social-network site as popular with advertisers. (See video below again.)

Bandying about the phrase, “return on involvement,” he noted that it was his job to show marketers that becoming part of the conversation could be as important as much-measured click-through rates.

“Banners are great for branding, but this is a more relevant message that leverages social media,” said Murphy. “If we can help you make your idea or product relevant to a consumer and get the best involvement rate … it’s a different game.”

And then last month Valleywag posted here on an amazingly idiotic roundelay about a group of bloggers associated with John Battelle’s Federated Media being part of a Microsoft ad campaign, by weighing in on what the software giant’s “people ready” catchphrase meant to them.

I was going to write about it, and even talked to Om Malik (he was sorry and withdrew from the campaign) and Battelle (not so sorry, noting to me that how we all look at marketing has changed in the new paradigm).

But the prospect of headache-inducing debates about it that would go precisely nowhere stopped me cold. I come from an Italian family and I know from pointless arguments.

My own conclusion was that, even with all the disclosure, which could have been a lot better, it was probably a dicey and even flat-out wrong thing for most bloggers to do.

Except apparently for Michael “Pound Sand” Arrington, who doesn’t appear to care what most anyone thinks anyway. (Are you looking at me?)

But Battelle has kept bringing up another interesting phrase called “conversational marketing”–which again refers to engaging audiences more deeply with advertisers. Federated, in fact, is having a “Conversational Marketing Summit” in mid-September, with a laundry list of Web marketing honchos.

It apparently “brings together leaders in conversational media and marketing for a two-day dialog around the issues, lessons and opportunities of this emerging medium.”

I, for one, am looking forward to understanding what it all means, despite the fact my initial reaction is suspicious, as a reporter who naturally worries about the sidling up of ad-sales people to the editorial process.

That feeling of distaste was articulated by Liz Gannes of NewTeeVee, who wrote that the Pepsi deal “sounds kind of sleazy, honestly.”

Well, we shall see, of course, and this is just entertainment we’re talking about. And, perhaps more important, it seems to be an inevitable drift, given trends toward increased interactivity by consumers, especially younger ones.

“A lot of online content is already developed and ads and marketing are slapped on afterward,” Russell Weiner, vice president of marketing for colas at Pepsi-Cola North America told me yesterday. “We want to be part of the DNA of a show from the very beginning.”

And that, I think, is what they call the origin of the species. What species that might be, we shall all see soon enough.


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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post