LiveJournal Introduces "Sponsored Content"piphil writes, "LiveJournal.com has just announced via their Business Discussions journal that they are introducing 'sponsored communities and features.' This has lead to an outcry from those who watch this community, who accuse LiveJournal of starting down the 'slippery slope' towards placing advertising on users' journals — some of which users already pay for the privilege of not having to see ads on the site. Read more below."
Interestingly, a few years ago — before LiveJournal's takeover by SixApart.com — the management released a "Social Contract" stating that LiveJournal would remain advertisement-free. Unfortunately it is impossible to link to this page at LiveJournal, as it has been silently deleted. However, we can read a copy of the document on the Internet Archive.
The user outcry has so far been limited to those who actively watch the lj_biz community. However, users are employing their own "viral marketing" techniques to spread the word across the user base. Many are worried about a MySpace-like descent into user-targeted advertising.
All this comes after the user base resisted introduction of advertising-supported user accounts, which swapped paying for extra features for seeing "targeted" banner adverts on the site.
These events raise prickly issue of user rights on such websites, and the validity of "user contracts" that can be changed at will by the provider with no subsequent compensation to affected users.
Live Journal Sponsored Content
We've been working with some great companies who are really excited about LiveJournal and want to help us give you guys access to new features and special content. In the coming weeks and months, we'll be launching some new offerings, including:
- Sponsored communities: LiveJournal communities run by companies who are looking for a way to connect and interact with people who are interested in finding out more about their products and getting special deals and exclusive content.
- Sponsored features: Features that might cost us too much to offer by ourselves, or touch on areas where we're not as experienced, which we'll be able to offer through partnerships with other companies.
We launched our first sponsored community, the Science of Sleep movie community (scienceofsleep) a few weeks ago, and there'll be more content from different sponsors in the future. We think it's a great chance for sponsors to take advantage of some of LJ's best features, and a chance for you guys to get access to exclusive content not being offered anywhere else.
As for sponsored features, they'll be things we've wanted to offer for a while and never quite known where to start. We'll be working with companies who are experts in the areas and technologies we think would be cool to offer, and through their sponsorship, they'll bring new features to LJ.
Our first sponsored feature, SMS integration with LiveJournal, will be launching to paid users soon. It's sponsored by Amp'd Mobile. We're really excited about these features, since people have been asking us for a really long time when they'll be able to interact with LJ via tet messaging. We're really glad to be able to work with Amp'd to finally get this out to you guys.
And, before anyone gets a chance to bring it up, we'll be honest: paid users are going to see the (unobtrusive!) sponsorship information on pages about sponsored features. We don't consider it to be advertising (though I'm sure some of you might disagree!). Our sponsored features are partnerships with companies who can make it possible for us to offer cool and nifty things we wouldn't be able to do otherwise, and we think that giving them credit is the right thing to do. It's what makes these partnerships attractive, and lets us be able to give you guys more stuff.
We're also putting the finishing touches on another awesome sponsored feature, but we'll let that be a surprise when we get there.
So now it's your turn! What types of companies, features, information, and special deals would you be interested in seeing?
Okay, there's enough confusion here in the comments that I need to clarify:
Sponsored communities and sponsored features aren't the same as the banner ads and Google ads displayed on Plus journals and to Plus users.
Our goal for sponsored communities is to give businesses an opportunity to connect with their customers, give you special deals -- free stuff! -- and information. More and more companies are moving to blogging as a form of communication -- people are starting to understand that there's a huge potential for conversation, and they want to reach out and have that conversation somewhere where the tools are already built in, like LJ.
Sponsored features are just that -- new things on LJ, made possible through partnerships with other companies, like technology companies that do things we don't have the experience or resources to do. We think it's totally fair to include a "this feature is made possible by this company" statement in exchange for those features.
Both of them are completely optional. You don't have to use sponsored features, and you don't have to join sponsored communities. We think they're going to be worth it for you guys -- I personally can't wait for the SMS stuff, especially since we've had people asking for it for literally years. But if you don't want to see it, you don't have to.
We want to give you guys options. One of those options is more features; one of them is the choice of seeing whether or not you want to listen to what companies have to say and offer about their products. But it's your choice -- you can also choose to completely ignore it if you want.