Gawker ridicules marketing firm for offering to buy links

The high-profile website smacks down a company for a “shady” proposition.

Pity the misguided folks who claim to work for a small marketing agency called 43a.

Their bright idea: They allegedly emailed an editor at Gawker, offered $175 per link to their clients, and asked him to keep it secret from his own editors.

If they hoped to gin up coverage, they succeeded all right. Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan wrote about the scheme under a story titled “Blog Bribes: The Shady Marketing Scheme That’s Buying Off Your Favorite Bloggers.”

The manure bomb that blew up in 43a’s face demonstrates what can go wrong with attempts to be sneaky in the hyper-transparent digital era. The company garnered a smackdown on a high-profile site and appeared to dance close to the precipice of Federal Trade Commission guidelines requiring disclosure of payoffs by companies.

A fundamental tenet

“One basic characteristic of journalism is this: its content is not bought and paid for and directed by an advertiser,” Nolan writes in his post.

43a, located in San Mateo, Calif., did not respond to questions I sent through its website.

How, er, misguided was 43a?

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