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Samsung Offered StackOverflow Users $500 For "Organic" Publicity 146

Posted by timothy
from the no-pesticide-kills-fllu dept.
First time accepted submitter rjmarvin writes "Digital marketing company FLLU, hired by Samsung to promote SSAC, offered $500 to StackOverflow users to pose 'casual and organic' questions over the next month about the 2013 Challenge. Android developer Delyan Kratunov turned them down, then posted the whole exchange on his blog. Outrage, of course, ensued." Sorry, no bounty on the comments below.
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Samsung Offered StackOverflow Users $500 For "Organic" Publicity

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  • by Seumas (6865) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @03:16PM (#44450681)

    Dice.

    • by Seumas (6865)

      I like how this (above) comment keeps getting modded down as "troll", while there are "organic" Dice/Slashvertisements right now on the front page just a few inches from this article.

      • Inches? this is the web son, it's pixels.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 01, 2013 @03:16PM (#44450683)

    Ads posing as content. Samsung probably felt left out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170)

      Ads posing as content. Samsung probably felt left out.

      Keep in mind it wasn't Samsung, but their stupid, and probably former, marketer.

      • by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @03:24PM (#44450747) Homepage Journal

        he should just have kept the money.
        or just offered rounds of booze to the guys.

        like wtf were they supposed to be asking around anyways and why the hell on stack exchange? that would be like showing problems with it.

        OTOH this is brilliant marketing since now I know about the challenge. much higher publicity than some stupid stack exchange questions.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        I like to think the developer community is also one with a higher percentage of people that would turn down such an offer. (Check out studies on IT "Hero Complex"). Most communities probably quietly accept such offers. I've frequently seen "content" on forums about Microsoft and Sony that could only be explained by payments.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I like to think the developer community is also one with a higher percentage of people that would turn down such an offer. (Check out studies on IT "Hero Complex"). Most communities probably quietly accept such offers. I've frequently seen "content" on forums about Microsoft and Sony that could only be explained by payments.

          I don't agree. When money is involved there are plenty of sellouts in any industry, including Slashdotters. These are the same people who were involved with the DOT-Com boom. These are the same sellouts who work at the NSA or do contracting work for the government in the name of National Security. If it wasn't for the sellouts then we wouldn't have XKeystone, Drones, and a number of other harmful technologies.

      • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @03:39PM (#44450893)

        If you delegate, YOU are responsible for the fuck-up. It's that simple. Doesn't matter whether it's CEO, employee, or contractor - Samsung have fucked up here.

        At least it wasn't outsourcing to the private sector by government. That's the worst thing to happen to modern Western society, as the tail's now permanently wagging the dog.

        • by Raenex (947668)

          If you delegate, YOU are responsible for the fuck-up. It's that simple. Doesn't matter whether it's CEO, employee, or contractor - Samsung have fucked up here.

          So if you hired a trash pickup service and they dumped your trash in the river, would you take responsibility?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Ads posing as content. Samsung probably felt left out.

        Keep in mind it wasn't Samsung, but their stupid, and probably former, marketer.

        Nice try, Samsung astroturfer!

      • Honestly, the marketing company succeeded. I've never heard of this before today.

        IT IS GENIUS!

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        *shrug*

        This is a standard tactic in the SEO realm. The PR generated once it was found out however... that marketer's gone.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Keep in mind it wasn't Samsung, but their stupid, and probably former, marketer.

        Why former?

        Think about what happened now - a bunch more people know that Samsung has a "Samsung Smart App Contest". Sure there's some outrage about astroturfing, but you know half the ragers are going to check it out anyways to see what they're raging about.

        Which means the marketing worked because it got a bunch more people who'll enter in. Even better, those people will look at the terms of the Samsung App Store and may decide

        • by Camael (1048726) on Friday August 02, 2013 @04:08AM (#44454575)

          Either way, the old saying "there's no such thing as bad publicity" comes true, and some marketer who was called out is probably walking all the way to the bank.

          Not... necessarily. There is such a thing as bad publicity, as amply demonstrated by MS recently with regards to the XboxOne DRM and other issues. That bought them a lot of ill-will from their ex-fans. Sure, they did a 180, retracted their position and maybe clawed back some of their hard core fans. But everything they've been doing since is to make up for lost traction for their new console. Worse still, they publicly boosted their strongest competitor at a very crucial time, when the new consoles were being unveiled and the publicity machine was gearing up to create hype.

          Hell, it was basically win-win. If he wasn't found out, great, more entries. If he was called out, even more publicity. Either way, more people know about it and that was the entire point.

          Except... thats not the point. The point from a marketing perspective is to close sales for your client. There is no point spamming a million eyeballs if none of them are potential customers. Thats the reason why Google Adwords commands premium rates- because they can deliver ads to people who are most likely to buy the product (i.e. those searching for "ipad sale" etc).

          On this issue, there is no guarantee that this stunt will increase participation in the Samsung Smart App Contest. Those people checking it out may still go "meh" and pass on it.

          More importantly, if this thing blows up, it has the potential to damage Samsung's brand. Samsung is a billion dollar company and Samsung Smart App is in comparison a piddly portion of the whole. If however, Samsung gains a reputation for astroturfing, it could seriously damage the brand. Just look at what is happening to MS now, I have seen numerous posts supportive of MS products on many tech forums being derided as being from paid shills, and rightly so since they were outed. Once the brand is poisoned, it is extremely difficult to repair .

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Not... necessarily. There is such a thing as bad publicity, as amply demonstrated by MS recently with regards to the XboxOne DRM and other issues. That bought them a lot of ill-will from their ex-fans. Sure, they did a 180, retracted their position and maybe clawed back some of their hard core fans. But everything they've been doing since is to make up for lost traction for their new console. Worse still, they publicly boosted their strongest competitor at a very crucial time, when the new consoles were bei

      • by smash (1351)
        So when microsoft do this, it's their stupid, probably former, marketer too, right?
      • Why former? In the end, they didn't have to spend the $125/question, and they did get articles about it splashed all over the tech news. And most people will blame the PR company, so Samsung is relatively free of the negative publicity, leaving you with a load of geeks who are now more aware of the Samsung thingumabob. Sounds like a win to me.
    • by gandhi_2 (1108023)

      Organic Astroturf is always more expensive at the store.

    • Many companies do it. I was once offered employed with a marketing company based out of Berkeley, California (I don't remember the name now) that was hired by Atari/Infogrames to write fake positive posts on various gaming sites about their 2005 game "Act of War". Of course they were very deceptive about it being spam and didn't find out exactly what they were up to until the end of the interview. I walked out on the interviewer without any further words when I did find out.
      • by rjmarvin (3001897)
        Intriguing experience. We're writing a follow-up story about Astroturfing for the SD Times. Would you be interested in giving us a short interview or some comments about your experience? As much as you can remember about the interview and the kinds of strategies Atari and the marketing company were planning to use. If you're interested in being a source in the Astroturfing story, please email me at rmarvin@bzmedia.com.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hey baby, if you're casual, I'm organic.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apple do this via exclusive pre-launch access to iThing +=1 and exclusive interviews. It works very well for both parties. The reporter gets to hype their site/blog and get a lot of indirect money from ad impressions. Apple also win, it cost them nothing, other than monitoring these people to ensure all articles are +ve. As soon as they're not, the person concerned is blacklisted.

    Samsung are more honest, it appears immediately on your tax filings, unlike Apple's. And we all know what lengths they'll go to t

    • by Jerslan (1088525)
      Apple is dishonest for offering people pre-launch access to a new device for review purposes? Last I checked this is a common practice in consumer electronics. It's also something I've never heard of Apple actually doing. IIRC, for the first few iterations of the iPhone it was a cause for grumbles among the "media elite".
      • by smash (1351)
        +1 to that. The only apple device I've ever seen in promo material or demonstration prior to launch is the coming Mac Pro.
    • Pre-launch access is something everyone gives. How do you think we get previews? That's a really poor justification even for a fanboy.
    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @04:01PM (#44451125)

      It's hilarious to see an Android apologists like yourself struggle to tie this back to Apple somehow.

      How in any way is offering a review unit to someone who may write about a device with every reader knowing they got a review unit, the same as having technical people pretend they were naturally interested in Samsung on a pure technical site and not divulging they were paid to express interest? Can you honestly detect zero difference in the morality of open vs hidden action?

      I can imagine you would have quite a different message posted if the name of the company offering money to game technical sites was Apple and not Samsung.

  • Very strange thing for Samsung (or their marketing company) to do, since on StackOverflow any user can post a question, and questions do not receive more attention based on who posted them. They could have simply had one guy make a bunch of accounts and post the questions himself (also upvoting his questions from his other accounts).

    This would not be particularly hard to do, so the whole idea of hiring bloggers to do this is really really stupid, especially considering that bloggers would love nothing more

    • All you describe takes time and is not woth the money for them. They prefer spending $500 and leave it to someone else.
    • by mlk (18543)

      Trust. While attention is not dependent on the poster, the likelihood of being called out is lowered if it is reputable user.

  • That's a good idea since the last time someone from Samsung offered $500 for Orgasmic publicity, they got arrested.
  • Samsung and every other company on earth do lousy border-line sleazy marketing on our holy grails of developer purity, but in reality this happens all the time pretty much everywhere, so the question is:
    1. Fix humanity
    2. Deal with it

    If you trust people's opinions, make sure its for a good reason, and if you don't then keep scepticism in the back of your mind that this could be intentional. Some marketing is so pervasive that idiots do it for you (shirt logo's) and some are so ingrained that you never know i

  • I must admit, seeing this article made me go check out their site [samsung.com]. They made this massive organic publicity through the Streisand effect.
  • Just another payola scam, nothing to see here folks...

  • by harvestsun (2948641) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @03:39PM (#44450897)
    Here is how it would have gone down:

    Question: "Need some feedback on the app I am about to enter for the Samsung Smart App Challenge." (yes, that is an actual quote from the email)
    Response: "Welcome to StackOverflow! Please read what this site is about, and "How to ask" before asking a question."

    Aaaaand... closed for off-topic within 60 seconds.

    StackOverflow has one of the most diligent communities I've ever seen. They wouldn't tolerate this shit.
    • by Threni (635302)

      More like:

      "With 4.3 just released, when are last years flagship models such as the S3 going to get 4.2, which came out nearly a year ago?"

      and

      "Why don't you release source/docs on your Exynos chip so Cyanogenmod can release CM10.1 for the recent phones?"

    • by kylemonger (686302) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @04:57PM (#44451621)
      The scheme, discovery, and public outrage were probably all part of the plan from the beginning. Lots of people who had never heard of the contest now have heard of the contest. Samsung can ritually fire the marketer, and we can repeat this exercise again next year.
    • by Qzukk (229616)

      Clearly should have been posted to codereview.stackexchange.com

  • seems like this is worth more than $500 in advertising

  • by Groo Wanderer (180806) <charlie.semiaccurate@com> on Thursday August 01, 2013 @03:45PM (#44450959) Homepage

    Given the publicity he gave Samsung, did they pay him the $500 in the end?

  • John Yoon should get a raise. He got this Samsung App Challenge mentioned on slashdot and he didn't have to pay anyone (presumably) $500.

  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @03:47PM (#44450979)

    I am about to enter for the Samsung Smart App Challenge. Anyone know have any experience with this?

  • On a totally unrelated subject, I just casually signed up for the Slashdot Newsletter. It seems like a pretty organic publication. Anyone know of any cool gadgets I can buy for $500?
  • This is all a conspiracy, it is much cheaper to make up a story like this than to pay several users $500. Think about it, I had never heard of the evil "Samsung Smart App Challenge" until I read this post and I am sure I wouldn't have noticed it in the comments. Well played Samsung.
  • I am willing to bet that there are a number of SlashDotters wondering, "Where's my $500?" While the mathematically inclined among us are nodding knowingly that with every offer they make they have a certain percentage probability of hitting a whistle blower. The question is will they be able to hit the threshold of having enough people to have an impact before they are approaching a near 100% chance of getting busted?

    Even if only 1 in 50 would blow the whistle the odds still stack up against you pretty qu
  • by Instine (963303) on Thursday August 01, 2013 @05:18PM (#44451823)
    ...mean grown in bullshit right?
  • Speaking for I assume most of us, it's "a fair amount of cash" - but not life changing. You'll weigh up the pros and cons, yadda yadda
    *If* you want to bribe somebody you need to go straight in with "shock and awe". No negotiations.
  • > 'casual and organic' questions

    "So, ya wanna go root around in each others' funk?"

  • There is no such thing as bad publicity. Their act led to this article posted on Slashdot and may be of other tech forums. I am sure the number of people who know what is SSAC has increased many fold after FLLU's action. Mission accomplished.

  • OK... so the developer refused, but Slashdot accepted...

    Arguably, a front page article on Slashdot referencing the contest/promotion is worth 20 to 30 times more than some question on Stackoverflow. If the author of this article doesn't get at least $10,000 for that, then they're getting ripped off.

  • Yes, because one man said so, it is true...
    Don't believe everything you read on the internet, or until you know the whole story.. If it's real, it's also possible that Samsung doesn't even know about it..
    And even if it's true, who cares, it's marketing..

  • Samsung Offered StackOverflow Users $500 For "Organic" Publicity

    Digital marketing company FLLU, hired by Samsung to promote SSAC, offered $500...

    That does make a difference. Not saying it's a big one, but it's a difference.

    • by 21mhz (443080)

      When Nokia's optical image stabilization demo video was found to be staged with a pro camera, it was the doing of an ad agency. Didn't matter a bit.

      Ironically, the real thing turned out to be nearly as good. Now selling at an AT&T store near you in the Nokia Lumia 1020. OK, OK, the last bit does not look organic at all.

    • The client of an advertising agency gets to approve the marketing plan. Samsung would have approved the spend as well.

  • As far as I'm concerned, the Samsung Galaxy S and Note series blow the competition out of the water for value for money. They are currently well ahead of the pack. The risk/reward of a stunt like this simply isn't worth it. If they want to attract people to their platform, unlock their phones and spend that money on giving out prizes for xda developers for adding cute new features to custom roms.

    Phillip.

  • Samsung has responded to us with an official comment on the story: check the story for their statement or read it via this link: http://www.sdtimes.com/l/61968 [sdtimes.com]

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