Horses for courses indeed – the role of the expert analyst and why Forbes is fine by me

Horses for courses indeed – the role of the expert analyst and why Forbes is fine by me

Posted by Pete Loughlin in Social Media 13 Feb 2013

Jason Busch wrote recently about a piece that Phil Fersht wrote about Forbes magazine. Although I’d encourage you to read both pieces in summary, they both lamented the lowering standards of Forbes magazine for, apparently, allowing their sponsors, such as SAP and Oracle, to write advertorial content in the guise of objective journalistic commentary.

Pro bloggers would never do that would they?

Purchasing Insight logoDamn right we wouldn’t. I think Jason and Phil would echo what I say when I tell you that I am fiercely proud and protective of the independence and objectivity of Purchasing Insight. If you want to be wooed by a vendor’s marketing messages, go directly to their web site but if you want educated insightful analysis and commentary that adds value to your decision making processes – go to the independent experts.

It’s not that the likes of Spend Matters, HfS and Purchasing Insight are taking the moral high ground, it would make no sense to deliver sponsors’ marketing messages. There is no room in the blogosphere for commercial biased ‘independent’ content. The moment we start to include advertising as editorial content is the point at which readers go elsewhere. The role of the expert analyst is to inform, educate and comment. That is what our readers value. And it is that value add that attracts sponsors who want to be seen associated with such expert commentary and want to engage with those readers.

But that is is far as I’d go in agreeing with Jason and Phil. Because I don’t think Forbes magazine is out of line. If they want to include thinly disguised advertorial content – that’s fine with me – because Forbes plays a different role. Forbes is an entertainment – intelligent and business oriented for sure but nevertheless, its role is to entertain. I read Forbes for relaxation on a plane. I read it for intelligent insightful commentary. I want to read about business from people who understand business.  But apparently, Larry Ellison writing an article on his views on the future of technology has a vested interest in saying good things about Oracle. No shit Sherlock?!

I’m intelligent enough to know that when the gospel according to SAP is preached it’s biased and personally, I don’t want to be patronized by a warnings that it’s biased.

It’s no scandal that Forbes magazine – an entertainment – muddies the waters between objective commentary and advertorial. An intelligent reader knows how to differentiate these messages. The real scandal is when firms that present what they call objective analysis – and charge through the nose for their expert “objectivity” – restrict their analysis to those businesses who have paid their dues. But that’s a slightly separate debate.

Pete Loughlin can be found on twitter @peteloughlin

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