Over the next few weeks, you will see posts showing up on io9 that look like crossposts from a Gawker Media blog called Blood Copy. These are not real posts. They are sponsored ads that are part of an alternate reality game (ARG) created by the True Blood marketing team.
I know it is wearying to see ads masquerading as editorial, and it's especially difficult for us at io9 since we've been covering the show True Blood for over a year without any incentive other than the fact that it's part of our beat. Oh, and some of us actually like the damn show, and even think the idea of a fake vampire blog is a cool ARG.
What is uncool is that the ARG is not marked as advertising, and is therefore designed to hoodwink io9 readers in two ways. One, it makes it seem that our parent company has bought a blog written by vampires. Two, it taints our legitimate editorial posts about the show True Blood, calling into question our coverage and reviews because it seems that we've been paid off to write about the show. Already, Media Bistro has commented that io9 is "promoting" True Blood by posting a clip from it. This simply isn't true. If you look at the tag True Blood on io9, you can see that we have been posting clips and recaps of the show starting last year, long before the Blood Copy campaign launched on Gawker. In particular, our resident vampire expert Meredith Woerner has made the show her beat, and recapped every episode for you last season.
This isn't the first time we've written about media created by sponsors of the site. We've had ads from Star Trek running next to coverage of the movie on our blog for the past few weeks (and not all of that coverage was exactly flattering). We've had book ads for books that we reviewed like Neal Stephenson's Anathem. A few weeks ago, we had an ad for a new Alastair Reynolds book next to a somewhat negative review of the novel.
Blood Copy's ads, however, are not clearly marked as advertising and that is the problem. We're not happy with that, and you shouldn't be either. But that isn't going to stop us from covering a show that we think is worth critical attention. Please learn to be a critical reader yourself, and when a post comes up with a red circle around it that says "Blood Copy," realize that is an ad. Anything else is legitimate io9 content.
This goes for other ads you see on the site too. Hopefully, nobody has yet mistaken the Star Trek CheezIt ads on io9 for actual editorial.
The point is, we're not going to change our coverage of a media property just because somebody paid to put an ad on our site. We aren't going to make fun of Sookie any less because of this advertising deal, and we aren't going to stop telling you when the episodes get too cheesy for words. At the same time, if there is a good episode or breaking news about the series we'll tell you about that too - just as we have been for the past year.
If you aren't happy about the Blood Copy advertising campaign, you can make your voice heard in comments on that fake blog. They aren't going to turn comments off or edit them.
And you have my apologies in advance for the Blood Copy sponsorship campaign. If it had only been clearly marked as an advertisement, it might have been a pretty cool ARG. As it is now, I'm afraid it's only advertising.
UPDATE: I am happy to report that Blood Copy posts will now come with a notice that says "sponsored post." Thanks to Gawker top brass, who heard everybody's complaints and acted quickly.