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#1 Edited by Branthog (7342 posts) -

I don't like to always be talking about other sites from within GiantBomb as that probably bothers the people behind GiantBomb, but this was just too fucking strange not to comment on. I mean, it is the weirdest god damn thing I've seen in the past week.

Basically, Polygon in their infinite nod to quality game journalism and in the wake of a few initial hitches and critiques (like getting $750k to make a documentary about making their website from one of the biggest gaming companies that they cover on a daily basis), has recently allowed GEICO (the insurance company) to "sponsor their forums".

And by "sponsor", I mean, they even have a guy from GEICO who has a presence in the forums and comments on things.

http://www.polygon.com/forums/meta/2012/11/14/3644956/welcome-andrew-geico?login=1353336373

I'm glad I ditched that site after being told that questioning their adherence to their ethical polices was not allowed, because they have ethical policies (as if their existence was the same as following them). This is just... I mean, I know every media outlet is looking to make a buck these days and they're all doing sleazy stuff, but that just feels fucking gross and if that happened at a place I heavily frequented (like GB), I would probably immediately stop visiting the site. Even a place like GB, where I've paid for a subscription several years in advance.

Or maybe it's just me. Is there nothing kind of ... ick about this?

I mean, it's one thing to be like "these forums sponsored by Blah Blah Inc". But to have someone from that company representing that company actively monitoring and participating in the forum conversations as a representative of "@GEICO"...? Is... what the actual fuck?! No matter how they present or clarify it, that just feels so CREEPY.

EDIT: Let me re-iterate that nowhere in my above comments do I say that the GEICO sponsorship or forum participation is shady nor do I insinuate that it calls into question any sort of editorial integrity. I am just saying that it is fucking weird, creepy, and kind of shitty and crass. Specifically, the embedding of a GEICO rep in the forums (the sponsorship of the forums by plastering ads everywhere is nothing new to game sites and GEICO -- as a non gaming entity -- is actually otherwise a sensible fit, in that regard).

From Chris Grant:
In my Welcome to Polygon post, I mentioned that GEICO – the car insurance company that makes all the funny commercials – would be sponsoring our forums. You've undoubtedly seen their ads on the site over the past few days, but it was important to GEICO to do more than just run advertising; they wanted to be part of the community.
Considering it's an open forum and anyone can create an account here, it was an easy ask. Lucky for GEICO, their social media slash community guy is an actual gamer who was already excited about Polygon. You'll recognize his handiwork if you remember this bit of wwebsite-related Reddit success late last year. He is not, it should be noted, the little British gecko, whose hands are far too small to manipulate traditional video game controllers.
It's thanks to the support of companies like GEICO that believe in what we're doing and want to support the nascent community here, that Polygon is able to exist. We can use this thread if you want to ask Andrew anything about his job, what games he's playing, or why a car insurance company cares about a video game community.
Of course, keep in mind that just because Andrew's our guest, it doesn't mean you can't disagree with him. If he tries to convince you that Majora's Mask is the best Zelda game, you feel free to tell him where to get off. (It's Link to the Past, by the way, obviously).
Andrew will be posting under the handle 'Andrew @ GEICO,' so say hi if you see him around.
Reply from the GEICO dude:
Hi there. I’m Andrew from GEICO, and I’m here to sell you car insurance. But not really.
OK, let’s back up for a second here. Sure, I may be gainfully employed by GEICO, that company with an insurance-pitching gecko whose 8-bit analog you may have seen hopping across the site. And, sure, they may expect me to devote a decent part of my day in the pursuit of getting people to switch to GEICO. All that’s true, and I’m not going to try to pretend it isn’t. But that’s not what I’m here for.
The reality is that you’re probably not reading this thinking, "Wow, I DO need some sweet, sweet car insurance right now." You probably have it, or you probably don’t need it. You might already have GEICO. If you’re from the U.S., you’ve almost certainly heard about us. In light of all this, I’m sure the question is this: What am I doing here?
As Chris stated above, it was important to me to do more than advertise. Yeah, we’re going to have some ads on the site, but I hope they won’t get in your way. I worked really closely with our design team to concept them and make them fun and relevant; even if you don’t need insurance, I hope they’re worth a quick glance to you. But joining the community was something I couldn’t pass up, and to my knowledge, it’s something that’s never been done before in this way. And I’m all for new, crazy ideas.
So this is where the car insurance talk ends. I’m here to talk with you as me, not as GEICO or about GEICO. I’m just going to hang out. Lurk like I’ve been lurking. Hop into the conversations that are relevant to me and that I can add some value to. Really, I’m just going to do what any of you would do. And, frankly, it’s a way to do my job that is hopefully the least disruptive to you, and maybe even helps you have more fun on this little piece of the Internet.
As Chris said, let me know if you’d like to ask me anything. I’ll do my best to answer. And while I’m not playing much of anything multiplayer right now (too busy getting mad at every character in Telltale’s The Walking Dead and trying to avoid the constant allure of Guild Wars 2), maybe we’ll have a chance to meet up in game someday. Oh, and I started a GEICO Steam account called GEICOonSteam where I gift games for absolutely no reason sometimes, so feel free to say hi on there.
#2 Posted by Anund (876 posts) -

Sounds shady. Specially the part with the sponsorship money for the documentary.

#3 Edited by ImHungry (376 posts) -

The whole thing seems pretty creepy, but I think it was made creepier by the official introduction of the guy. Like they said, the forums really are open for anyone to create an account, so GEICO could have easily just had the guy create an account and name it what it's named now without having been so official and creating an uproar. I get the sense it won't be too intrusive, but I agree it'd be weird if I was browsing a forum and suddenly someone's username just had fat GEICO plastered on it.

I'm just waiting for their off-topic forum to start a GEICO-bashing thread. Sounds like nothing could go wrong.

#4 Posted by JasonR86 (9608 posts) -

Eh. You got to get money somehow.

#5 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1446 posts) -

@Branthog:

I really don't get the big deal. It's like when they say "closed captioning provided by", it just means that the particular advertiser is paying to be associated with a specific feature or service, not that they have any influence or control over that particular feature or service. In the post you linked I saw nothing about that Geico rep "moderating" as you say, it just seems like an easy way increase brand recognition. Get someone that happens to have Geico in their user name to be a recognized contributor in the forums and people will perhaps subconsciously associate video game conversation with Geico. If he's in their advertising, you can bet the community won't tolerate it (would we?), but if he's just another poster that happens to have Geico in his name, I don't see the issue.

#6 Edited by SirOptimusPrime (1946 posts) -

Uhm, this sounds all sorts of not-my-thing. Top to bottom some weird shit, especially since all of his video game comments just sound forced. My mother sounds less weird when she talks about games than this cat.

Also, GEICOonSteam? What?

#7 Posted by Freshbandito (654 posts) -

So many of the people at Polygon seem kind of naive about the way people will recieve their business ventures. I know their endeavour IS a business and needs to make money but the way they're going about it seems awfully 'my first internet startup' and like they're just not too aware of the effect it has on image.

#8 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@Anund said:

Sounds shady. Specially the part with the sponsorship money for the documentary.

You can watch it on their site, I believe. In fact, I think it might still be in-progress. I think it was pretty clear to everyone that it was just a straight up advertising deal that was lamely packaged as a "watch the behind-the-scenes of this multi-million-dollar game website that is part of a hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars media farm (Vox Media) as they build their site!". But everyone kind of got over that, since then.

The next thing was everyone calling them out on directly copying and pasting a press release advertising Pizza Hut and Halo 4 that went up at the same time as "content" on multiple other sites, too. Along with deleting countless comments in reply to it questioning what it had to do with anything (this was at the peak of the Wainwright/Florence thing) and then later changing the image of the article to make it less obvious and then returning (some, at least) comments from the grave under that article.

And then this whole weird thing that goes beyond the normal "this section of the website brought to you buy" thing. Which would be a little "blech", but understandable -- but is only weird as fuck when the GEICO guy is actively participating in the forums as a GEICO guy for GEICO. Just . . . man, do I not want to see that be the next big thing. Can you imagine if you go to your favorite forums to discuss things with your fellow gamers or music fans or political junkies or techies or anime nerds and have to deal with guys from PEPSICO, COMCAST, INTEL, NBC, and ALIENWARE?

I suppose the reason they are catching so much shit from people since launch is that they positioned and promoted themselves as a new kind of website for a new kind of game coverage and in the first few weeks have done some really tacky shit as bad or worse than the "old kind of websites".

Now, granted, at least the company involved is GEICO. It's not like it's a game company doing it. I give them credit for that as it would *definitely* cross the line. But that doesn't make it any less creepy that *any* company is basically hanging out in a community's forum.

#9 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -
It's thanks to the support of companies like GEICO that believe in what we're doing

and there it is again. Guys you're covering video games, you are not helping the homeless. Jesus fucking Christ.

#10 Posted by Phatmac (5721 posts) -

Gotta make money somehow.. I guess.

#11 Posted by BurningStickMan (201 posts) -

I remember I was at a Tennessee Titans game back in the early 2000s. They were the home team, scored a touchdown. An announcement comes over the PA, duplicated on the stadium screens, that "This touchdown brought to you by 1st Bank!"

Bullshit. That touchdown was brought to me by #81.

That was the shadiest example of sponsorship I've ever seen. This Geico thing is pretty close.

#12 Posted by aquamarin (555 posts) -

Reading those comments made my soul die a little.

#13 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@ll_Exile_ll said:

@Branthog:

I really don't get the big deal. It's like when they say "closed captioning provided by", it just means that the particular advertiser is paying to be associated with a specific feature or service, not that they have any influence or control over that particular feature or service. In the post you linked I saw nothing about that Geico rep "moderating" as you say, it just seems like an easy way increase brand recognition. Get someone that happens to have Geico in their user name to be a recognized contributor in the forums and people will perhaps subconsciously associate video game conversation with Geico. If he's in their advertising, you can bet the community won't tolerate it (would we?), but if he's just another poster that happens to have Geico in his name, I don't see the issue.

When a company advertises on a show (as you mention, by sponsoring the closed captioning), they aren't also sitting next to you on the couch, watching the show and discussing it with you. Having someone representing a company injecting themselves into the community to build up their brand as they monitor and participate in conversations is just too far. If the guy cares about gaming and wants to have gaming conversations, that's great. But to strike a deal with said website to be a representative of the entity therefore makes every conversation they participate in and every interaction they have with you into a brand-building moment. It's gross. I understand that my comments on GB contribute to the GB brand. That's fine. That's part of why I'm here. But I wouldn't want them to strike a deal with Doritos so that some guy from Doritos could go around jumping into conversations and pretending to be hip and with it, turning every thread into a branding and marketing opportunity for their snack foods.

Yes, it seems inoccuous on the face of it, but it's not. It's a gross intermingling of content and advertising. Of community and external-brand-building. I want my conversations to be organic with people who share my interests; whether or not this guy shares interests in gaming, the "whacky dude from GEICO!" part tarnishes all of it. Can I have one fucking interaction in my life that doesn't have to be part of someone else's monetization model or brand-building? The only way this could be grosser is if it was Andrew @EA or something (which even Polygon/Vox probably recognizes as crossing the line).

#14 Edited by CptBedlam (4449 posts) -

I don't think it's really that shady, just extremely weird. The whole concept sounds awkward. What is that guy going to post? "Awesome screenshots!!!11 Btw, have I told you about this very cheap car insurance deal?"

#15 Posted by Kerned (1169 posts) -

I think Polygon is gross. Taking $750,000 from Microsoft -- which, as you mentioned, is a company they need to cover -- was so blatantly and shamelessly unethical that I can't possibly trust anything they say. It's doubly bothersome that they tout themselves as the saviors of "games journalism," while engaging in behavior that any first year journalism student knows is unethical and completely unacceptable.

The GEICO thing isn't as bad, by any means. GEICO doesn't make video games or video game hardware. They are in a completely unrelated industry. I do think it sucks though that Polygon seems willing to literally sell-out their comment section to advertisers. They obviously don't have a whole lot of concern about the experience of their users. It just seems to indicate an overall lack of respect for their audience.

#16 Posted by Mister_V (1194 posts) -

I'm not sure what to make of this... It's all kinds of weird.

#17 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

@SirOptimusPrime said:

Also, GEICOonSteam? What?

Finally! Now I can insure my Steam account!

#18 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1446 posts) -

@Branthog said:

@ll_Exile_ll said:

@Branthog:

I really don't get the big deal. It's like when they say "closed captioning provided by", it just means that the particular advertiser is paying to be associated with a specific feature or service, not that they have any influence or control over that particular feature or service. In the post you linked I saw nothing about that Geico rep "moderating" as you say, it just seems like an easy way increase brand recognition. Get someone that happens to have Geico in their user name to be a recognized contributor in the forums and people will perhaps subconsciously associate video game conversation with Geico. If he's in their advertising, you can bet the community won't tolerate it (would we?), but if he's just another poster that happens to have Geico in his name, I don't see the issue.

When a company advertises on a show (as you mention, by sponsoring the closed captioning), they aren't also sitting next to you on the couch, watching the show and discussing it with you. Having someone representing a company injecting themselves into the community to build up their brand as they monitor and participate in conversations is just too far. If the guy cares about gaming and wants to have gaming conversations, that's great. But to strike a deal with said website to be a representative of the entity therefore makes every conversation they participate in and every interaction they have with you into a brand-building moment. It's gross. I understand that my comments on GB contribute to the GB brand. That's fine. That's part of why I'm here. But I wouldn't want them to strike a deal with Doritos so that some guy from Doritos could go around jumping into conversations and pretending to be hip and with it, turning every thread into a branding and marketing opportunity for their snack foods.

Yes, it seems inoccuous on the face of it, but it's not. It's a gross intermingling of content and advertising. Of community and external-brand-building. I want my conversations to be organic with people who share my interests; whether or not this guy shares interests in gaming, the "whacky dude from GEICO!" part tarnishes all of it. Can I have one fucking interaction in my life that doesn't have to be part of someone else's monetization model or brand-building? The only way this could be grosser is if it was Andrew @EA or something (which even Polygon/Vox probably recognizes as crossing the line).

But it won't work in the way your saying. Either he adds legitimate conversation value and is a positive, contributing member of the community or it is all one big disgusting attempt at advertising and he has nothing of value to add to the forums. If the first thing happens, there is no issue. If the second thing happens, the community rips the fuck into the guy and the whole situation backfires; experiment over. If the worst scenario is that the polygon community gains another member that also happens to have geico in his name, I say who cares.

#19 Edited by Abendlaender (2764 posts) -

@JasonR86 said:

Eh. You got to get money somehow.

Well, there is always more than one way. I certainly don't think "Eh, You got to get money somehow." when I ready about a bank robbery :P

That being said, I don' think this is shaddy just....weird. It's not like GEICO is producing video games but, I don't even......who thought this might be a good idea? I mean come on, really? What's the point of that? Surley this guy wont just spam facts about car insuance everywhere right?

#20 Posted by Hailinel (23906 posts) -

Yeah, I'm really glad that I decided not to read Polygon.

#21 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@BurningStickMan said:

I remember I was at a Tennessee Titans game back in the early 2000s. They were the home team, scored a touchdown. An announcement comes over the PA, duplicated on the stadium screens, that "This touchdown brought to you by 1st Bank!"

Bullshit. That touchdown was brought to me by #81.

That was the shadiest example of sponsorship I've ever seen. This Geico thing is pretty close.

That kind of thing is actually pretty common. Weather and traffic is usually sponsored by a company. Even the score on most games (especially professional ball games) are sponsored by a company and have a little logo by it. I guess I would relate that to a forum being sponsored by a company (having their ads on it). Personally, I'd be put off by that, but at least it's just a use of ad-space surrounding the content I'm consuming. It's (usually) separate from the actual content. That extra step of then becoming part of the crowd, as the advertiser, that seems like it's going to far. It makes me wonder what comes next, too. Does GEICO sponsor game reviews? Does the GEICO guy do actual reviews? Does EA or Activision or Zynga get in on it?

Advertising is one thing. Billboards. Flyers. Commercials. Sponsorships. Banners. People get that. They're used to it. It's the "necessary" evil that goes along with funding the content or the service. There's something wrong that I have a hard time describing properly, about this advertising become part of the conversation and service, itself. It's bad enough that you go to websites where all the keyboards pop-up keyword advertisements. But if this sort of thing were to catch on, it just takes the commercialization of the internet to a really disgusting place that is already muddled with paid-bloggers-secretly-advertising, paid-commenters (ever see that bulk nearly-senseless commentary on random website articles from 20 guys in a row who all seem to be posting from India?).

I wonder what other level they could sink to with this. Maybe companies will sponsor employees to jump into multiplayer games wearing special branded skins, branded names, and talking about their product in the game's lobby chat? Maybe one of the guys on a podcast will be a guy from that company? I guess the part that I find personally off-putting, the most, is that conversations with other gamers seemed to be the last place where it was just us having conversations. There could be all the advertising and business and crap *surrounding* it, but the actual discourse was between two or more independent parties. Regular people. Now even our conversations are brand-opportunities.

#22 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@Kerned said:

I think Polygon is gross. Taking $750,000 from Microsoft -- which, as you mentioned, is a company they need to cover -- was so blatantly and shamelessly unethical that I can't possibly trust anything they say. It's doubly bothersome that they tout themselves as the saviors of "games journalism," while engaging in behavior that any first year journalism student knows is unethical and completely unacceptable.

The GEICO thing isn't as bad, by any means. GEICO doesn't make video games or video game hardware. They are in a completely unrelated industry. I do think it sucks though that Polygon seems willing to literally sell-out their comment section to advertisers. They obviously don't have a whole lot of concern about the experience of their users. It just seems to indicate an overall lack of respect for their audience.

Exactly. It's gross just in terms of advertising itself. But it would be so much worse (and a much bigger deal) if it were a game company. I think you'd have to be really dumb to go *that* far. However, I wouldn't be shocked if that's the next step. If not at Polygon, then another site. If this goes over well, then having someone from a popular game company would be the logical next step (and then we can have all the interesting conversations about conflicts of interest there).

Of course, I don't have anything against the GEICO employee, himself. That guy is smart. He got himself a sweet gig posting on game forums and playing on twitter all day. Genius.

#23 Posted by august (3827 posts) -

Guys if you look at my avatar you can see I'm a wizard. And this shit is pretty fucked up. More the documentary sponsorship but the whole thing is weird

#24 Posted by Skrams (271 posts) -

Minor, but I can confirm the gifting but I'm pretty sure they just gift the cheapest thing on wishlists as I was gifted Thirty Flights of Loving and had the message of "Dear Skrams, Saw this on your wish list. LOVE this game. Enjoy!". I assume this is just a canned message because come on internet man. You LOVE this $5 indie game that's 15 minutes long? I guess I could believe it but eh. Also I feel bad now for participating in the sleaze but eh, free stuff.

#25 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@ll_Exile_ll said:

@Branthog said:

@ll_Exile_ll said:

@Branthog:

I really don't get the big deal. It's like when they say "closed captioning provided by", it just means that the particular advertiser is paying to be associated with a specific feature or service, not that they have any influence or control over that particular feature or service. In the post you linked I saw nothing about that Geico rep "moderating" as you say, it just seems like an easy way increase brand recognition. Get someone that happens to have Geico in their user name to be a recognized contributor in the forums and people will perhaps subconsciously associate video game conversation with Geico. If he's in their advertising, you can bet the community won't tolerate it (would we?), but if he's just another poster that happens to have Geico in his name, I don't see the issue.

When a company advertises on a show (as you mention, by sponsoring the closed captioning), they aren't also sitting next to you on the couch, watching the show and discussing it with you. Having someone representing a company injecting themselves into the community to build up their brand as they monitor and participate in conversations is just too far. If the guy cares about gaming and wants to have gaming conversations, that's great. But to strike a deal with said website to be a representative of the entity therefore makes every conversation they participate in and every interaction they have with you into a brand-building moment. It's gross. I understand that my comments on GB contribute to the GB brand. That's fine. That's part of why I'm here. But I wouldn't want them to strike a deal with Doritos so that some guy from Doritos could go around jumping into conversations and pretending to be hip and with it, turning every thread into a branding and marketing opportunity for their snack foods.

Yes, it seems inoccuous on the face of it, but it's not. It's a gross intermingling of content and advertising. Of community and external-brand-building. I want my conversations to be organic with people who share my interests; whether or not this guy shares interests in gaming, the "whacky dude from GEICO!" part tarnishes all of it. Can I have one fucking interaction in my life that doesn't have to be part of someone else's monetization model or brand-building? The only way this could be grosser is if it was Andrew @EA or something (which even Polygon/Vox probably recognizes as crossing the line).

But it won't work in the way your saying. Either he adds legitimate conversation value and is a positive, contributing member of the community or it is all one big disgusting attempt at advertising and he has nothing of value to add to the forums. If the first thing happens, there is no issue. If the second thing happens, the community rips the fuck into the guy and the whole situation backfires; experiment over. If the worst scenario is that the polygon community gains another member that also happens to have geico in his name, I say who cares.

But he doesn't just happen to have GEICO in his name. He is posting on behalf of the company to advertise the company and that is why he is there. Yes, if he contributes interesting content, that's great (I guess), but there's no reason to have GEICO involved, for that matter. They can just keep their banners and interstitial and whatever else they use to promote the section and not get involved in the dialog. However, that's the note MO of "social advertising". This is in the same vein of getting people with a lot of friends or followers to start advertising your brand through their social interfaces to all of their contacts. It's this dirty little injection of advertising into personal interactions and it becomes this kind of weird and gross thing that transcends absolutely any quality or worth of the actual contribution they might supposedly ad to the conversation.

#26 Posted by MethodMan008 (806 posts) -

Doesn't bother me in the slightest, I actually think it's cool.

The documentary on the other hand, no so much.

#27 Posted by BBAlpert (1372 posts) -

(I'm not that great with Photoshop, yet)

#28 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10479 posts) -

For whatever reason, reading this makes me sort of want to create an account on their site to just spam the forums about rival car insurance companies.

But I won't, because I'm lazy.

Also, yeah, this is weird. I've never been to Polygon, and I probably won't any time soon.

#29 Posted by Akrid (1356 posts) -

That's really awful. What's even more plainly awful though is the lack of criticism found in that comment section. Those moderators must be working overtime to suppress peoples' opinions.

#30 Posted by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@MethodMan008 said:

Doesn't bother me in the slightest, I actually think it's cool.

The documentary on the other hand, no so much.

What is it that you find cool about it, exactly? I can see it not bothering some people that much, but . . . I don't get that there's anything remotely cool about it?

It just seems all shades of "hey, how about that thing all you young people are into these days, huh? I sure love that thing! And speaking of that thing, stuff about that thing and my comments about that thing which are totally organic and not forced are brought to you by my employer, who totally gets you young people and that thing you are into these days -- GROOVY YOU COOL CATS!".

*shudder*

Soon, we're going to have to start building little "deprivation rooms" where you pay money by the hour to be able to escape for a few minutes from constant barrages of advertising. So you can have a discussion with a real person about books and not a discussion with the COKE representative talking to you about your favorite book. And COKE! Because COKE! I love books AND DID I MENTION COKE?!

#31 Posted by Hexuality (30 posts) -

Urgh. Glad I'm only reading their stuff through the RSS. I'm a big fan of Gies and the McElroys, once their funding gets less crazy, and they get some compelling video content (Not that the documentary is bad, just overdone), I'll probably add them to my personal pantheon.

#32 Posted by CptBedlam (4449 posts) -

@Branthog said:

Of course, I don't have anything against the GEICO employee, himself. That guy is smart. He got himself a sweet gig posting on game forums and playing on twitter all day. Genius.

It's probably the same guy who posted that "wwwebsite as on the internet" joke on the GEICO twitter account last year (Paul Christoforo/PennyArcade-related). That resonated pretty well with the gaming community which is why he probably got approval to go ahead and take the bonding to the next level.

#33 Posted by MethodMan008 (806 posts) -

@Branthog said:

@MethodMan008 said:

Doesn't bother me in the slightest, I actually think it's cool.

The documentary on the other hand, no so much.

What is it that you find cool about it, exactly? I can see it not bothering some people that much, but . . . I don't get that there's anything remotely cool about it?

It just seems all shades of "hey, how about that thing all you young people are into these days, huh? I sure love that thing! And speaking of that thing, stuff about that thing and my comments about that thing which are totally organic and not forced are brought to you by my employer, who totally gets you young people and that thing you are into these days -- GROOVY YOU COOL CATS!".

Just as a form of advertising I haven't seen before. I don't read the Polygon forums so I could totally be wrong, but the OP makes it sounds like he's not actually going to advertise via the actual content of a forum post, presumebly he will have a Geico avatar and signature if they support those.. Which I don't mind at all..

Most avatars/sigs are usually just game related media (or kind of ads..) anyway..

#34 Posted by Kerned (1169 posts) -

@Akrid said:

That's really awful. What's even more plainly awful though is the lack of criticism found in that comment section. Those moderators must be working overtime to suppress peoples' opinions.

They do exactly that. Polygon deleted and locked an entire comment thread a couple of weeks ago when people were calling them out for copy/pasting a Halo/Mountain Dew cross-promotion press release as news. They are shady.

#35 Posted by Milkman (16531 posts) -

Geico customers sure are happy. How happy are they? Happier than a person who never has to read Polygon.

Online
#36 Posted by ll_Exile_ll (1446 posts) -

@Branthog:

I still don't get where all the outrage is coming from. It's not like you're going to be tricked into buying geico insurance by having a forum conversation with this guy. Everyone knows who he is and why he is there. If the free thinking members of the polygon community deem his intentions or contributions to be anything other than genuine, they're going to jump all over him, this is the internet after all. I'm sure you're not alone in you're immediate disgust for the whole situation, and you can bet the regular visitors to the polygon forums are just going to be waiting eagerly for this guy to say something they consider unsavory and simultaneously get outraged, write a blog about the corruption of polygon, and give the guy a good old fashioned flaming.

The reality of economics is that advertising will always exist when the majority of user get the service for free. The advertising is going to get to you somehow, this is one of doing it, there are obviously others of varying degrees of intrusion. I think trying to engage your target audience in things they like is a less obstructive, if slightly disingenuous way of getting your brand out there. I'll be interested to see how the polygon community responds to this and if ends up lasting. The reality of the world is that advertisers are always going to be trying new ways of connecting with potential customers and creating positive associations with their products. You don't have to like it, but getting morally offended as a collective community is getting old. There is no conflict of interest here, it isn't game related and there are much worse things more deserving of our attention than this.

#37 Posted by 71Ranchero (2675 posts) -

Fuck sake, who cares. Everybody's gotta eat.

#38 Posted by forkboy (1116 posts) -

@Branthog said:

@MethodMan008 said:

Doesn't bother me in the slightest, I actually think it's cool.

The documentary on the other hand, no so much.

What is it that you find cool about it, exactly? I can see it not bothering some people that much, but . . . I don't get that there's anything remotely cool about it?

It just seems all shades of "hey, how about that thing all you young people are into these days, huh? I sure love that thing! And speaking of that thing, stuff about that thing and my comments about that thing which are totally organic and not forced are brought to you by my employer, who totally gets you young people and that thing you are into these days -- GROOVY YOU COOL CATS!".

*shudder*

Yeah, look, welcome to advertising.

I fucking hate advertising. The people who go into it as a career are usually rejects from other creative careers, and so what is left are mediocre disenchanted people doing a job they themselves hate, but accept as necessary in order to pay the bills who "create" exceedingly mediocre nonsense in the name of selling shit that you don't need. It's painful, annoying, lazy, & often just plain depressing.

But at the same time, this industry that creates nothing worthwhile never the less allows many things that we enjoy to exist. The many fantastic television shows to come from America would not exist without horrible, loud, stupid adverts. And so it is with websites.

This is just the latest counter-measure against you & me & everyone else online using Ad-Aware & similar programs because internet adverts are often incredibly obnoxious. I think back to the time when the Vita launched & Giant Bomb had a large Vita skin all over the front page that made a lot of the text on the front page unreadable. And that's relatively innocuousness. So if the future of internet advertising is a company employ posting about video games? It's a fucking step up from pop-up adverts that make stupid noises when you mouse over them, that's for sure. I'm not saying I'm liking it, but at a certain point if we don't want to radically realign society from a consumer-driven one to an alternative then you just have to accept that advertising is a necessary evil. If it wasn't an insurance company but a games publisher, I'd be outraged. And I'm certainly not going to call it cool. But I'll accept it & do my best to ignore it. Which I grant you is easy seeing as I've been to Polygon once, on launch day.

The video funded by Microsoft, now that's worth getting worked up over. Mildly.

#39 Edited by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@MethodMan008 said:

@Branthog said:

@MethodMan008 said:

Doesn't bother me in the slightest, I actually think it's cool.

The documentary on the other hand, no so much.

What is it that you find cool about it, exactly? I can see it not bothering some people that much, but . . . I don't get that there's anything remotely cool about it?

It just seems all shades of "hey, how about that thing all you young people are into these days, huh? I sure love that thing! And speaking of that thing, stuff about that thing and my comments about that thing which are totally organic and not forced are brought to you by my employer, who totally gets you young people and that thing you are into these days -- GROOVY YOU COOL CATS!".

Just as a form of advertising I haven't seen before. I don't read the Polygon forums so I could totally be wrong, but the OP makes it sounds like he's not actually going to advertise via the actual content of a forum post, presumebly he will have a Geico avatar and signature if they support those.. Which I don't mind at all..

Most avatars/sigs are usually just game related media (or kind of ads..) anyway..

Ah. Yeah, that is why I find this so gross. Because it won't be a one-off instance. This will become more common if it doesn't get a lot of kick-back. You might be surprised how much of what you encounter on a day to day basis is actually paid-for. Reviews on amazon. Blog posts by supposedly independent normal people. Comments on those blogs. Entire articles. I can't even begin to guess how far we'll go with this in the next five years. It'll make "sponsored tweets" look like nothing.

@CptBedlam said:

@Branthog said:

Of course, I don't have anything against the GEICO employee, himself. That guy is smart. He got himself a sweet gig posting on game forums and playing on twitter all day. Genius.

It's probably the same guy who posted that "wwwebsite as on the internet" joke on the GEICO twitter account last year (Paul Christoforo/PennyArcade-related). That resonated pretty well with the gaming community which is why he probably got approval to go ahead and take the bonding to the next level.

I hadn't heard of that before (the wwwebsite as on the internet tweet). That's really a sadly low bar for entry. "This company tweeted something borderline amusing last year and now they are totally legit!". Ugh. I don't want my companies to be funny or be my buddy or have conversations with me. To be frank, we all know that they don't want to do that either. They just see it as a way to circumvent adblockers, and the way that our brains have grown-up with advertising in such a way that we block out and forget so much of it. Sort of a sixth-sense that we have, even if it's slammed into our eyeballs non-stop. So if you can't get them to pay attention to the ads when they're looking at the content, make your advertising an embedded and unavoidable part *of* the content. Eeeew.

@Kerned said:

@Akrid said:

That's really awful. What's even more plainly awful though is the lack of criticism found in that comment section. Those moderators must be working overtime to suppress peoples' opinions.

They do exactly that. Polygon deleted and locked an entire comment thread a couple of weeks ago when people were calling them out for copy/pasting a Halo/Mountain Dew cross-promotion press release as news. They are shady.

Yep. I watched that article go up and then the posting and deleting in real time and then it caused a minor stir on GAF, of course. I only spent a little time there (out of curiosity of watching it in the first couple months) and ditched it, as I posted in another thread earlier this past weekend, because I made a pithy comment that mentioned an article they posted was actually a press release and therefore advertisement. I wasn't saying that Poly was paid for advertising. I was just pointing out what the subject of the article itself was. They quickly took offense to it (really touchy, I guess!) and thought I was slighting *them*. So, they deleted the comment and blocked my account until I read their notice and clicked that I had read their policies and agreed to them. (If you are "blocked', you can't see ANY content on the site until you agree). Their comment about my deleted comment was that it wasn't advertising, they weren't paid for it (I didn't say they were) and that they DO NOT ALLOW ANY CRITICISM OF THEIR CODE OF ETHICS, BECAUSE THEY POST THEIR CODE OF ETHICS. (In other words, they have a page that explains their ethical policies and since they have a page that explains it, there is no reason to ever discuss it because they would obviously never violate their own policy). Of course, again, I wasn't discussing their policy. I was just pointing out something that their article's "author" didn't.

The article itself was a press release from a diploma-mill (it's actually listed on a website that track's shady diploma mills as a "questionable" institution). The title of it touted it as an "ACCREDITED UNIVERSITY" that was offering something to do with game art degrees or something. I pointed out that it might be a diploma mill, at the very least it was NOT regionally accredited (which can be a problem, sometimes), and that the article itself was just a press release from the company (easily found by searching on the keywords and comparing it to all other instances of the same damn press release).

I found that pretty gross. Not the deletion of the comment. Not the confusion that they thought I was accusing them of doing something wrong (again, I wasn't) . . . but their justification in response to the perceived slight. That they were beyond reproach, because they said they were. Blech. Maybe I over-reacted, but god damn that rubbed me the wrong way. I just deleted as much as I could of my account and then removed them from my RSS feed. I don't want to support them, even if they have Justin and Arthur (guys that I generally like).

@ll_Exile_ll said:

@Branthog:

I still don't get where all the outrage is coming from. It's not like you're going to be tricked into buying geico insurance by having a forum conversation with this guy. Everyone knows who he is and why he is there. If the free thinking members of the polygon community deem his intentions or contributions to be anything other than genuine, they're going to jump all over him, this is the internet after all. I'm sure you're not alone in you're immediate disgust for the whole situation, and you can bet the regular visitors to the polygon forums are just going to be waiting eagerly for this guy to say something they consider unsavory and simultaneously get outraged, write a blog about the corruption of polygon, and give the guy a good old fashioned flaming.

The reality of economics is that advertising will always exist when the majority of user get the service for free. The advertising is going to get to you somehow, this is one of doing it, there are obviously others of varying degrees of intrusion. I think trying to engage your target audience in things they like is a less obstructive, if slightly disingenuous way of getting your brand out there. I'll be interested to see how the polygon community responds to this and if ends up lasting. The reality of the world is that advertisers are always going to be trying new ways of connecting with potential customers and creating positive associations with their products. You don't have to like it, but getting morally offended as a collective community is getting old. There is no conflict of interest here, it isn't game related and there are much worse things more deserving of our attention than this.

You hit the nail on the head. Disingenuous. People hate that. I hate that. As I said, banners across the page is one thing. Patronizing disingenuous "we are going to engage this community about video games so we can build our brand of insurance among that demographic, so they'll think of us the next time they need insurance" is terrible and I think it's even worse that people would just shrug and say "no biggie". I guess that's what we're seeing, though. Generations of kids are now coming up with absolutely no comprehension of having any space or time around them that isn't bombarded with advertising or commercial manipulation, so it will never occur to them to question it. Constant advertising and cross corporate marketing/branding interactions (right down to otherwise genuine discussions with other people about topics they care about) is just going to be a part of life for them.

And you're right, the reality of the world is that advertisers are always going to look for ways to push the envelope and invade our lives. We shouldn't be so willing to let them do it. There's a reason I use adblock, but pay GiantBomb for a subscription.

And no, there isn't a conflict of interest (that we know of), here. Because it's not a gaming company that's doing the advertising. That was already stated. Gross advertising, however, is gross. Period. And it's perfectly legitimate to be seriously repulsed by gross extents of advertising.

#40 Posted by iAmJohn (6109 posts) -

This has been known since they launched the full site. And as I said back then: yes, this is super fucked up.

#41 Posted by Kerned (1169 posts) -

@ll_Exile_ll said:

@Branthog:

If the free thinking members of the polygon community deem his intentions or contributions to be anything other than genuine, they're going to jump all over him, this is the internet after all. I'm sure you're not alone in you're immediate disgust for the whole situation, and you can bet the regular visitors to the polygon forums are just going to be waiting eagerly for this guy to say something they consider unsavory and simultaneously get outraged, write a blog about the corruption of polygon, and give the guy a good old fashioned flaming.

Except Polygon will likely just delete any such comments, as they have deleted comments critical of the website in the past. That is not an open community over there.

#42 Posted by Corvak (902 posts) -

The whole atmosphere of Polygon - its forums, marketing, and attitude, is a total turn off for me. They play themselves up as the supposed saviors of games journalism, and I can't handle that kind of ego.

I'm sure theyve got good staff, and good content, it's just not something that fits what I want to read regularly right now.

#43 Posted by Coafi (1481 posts) -

@Milkman said:

Geico customers sure are happy. How happy are they? Happier than a person who never has to read Polygon.

*cue the banjo*

#44 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

Let me know when there's actually a trending bias in their reviews and games discussion other than Arthur Gies's tendency towards hyperbole and high scores and I'll get back to you. Right now, they write extremely strong material and do so consistently across multiple writers. It's honestly awesome to say that those things don't worry me. No Microsoft game has a chance of winning Polygon's Game of the Year (at least, not at Besties, which turned hardcore against Halo 4 this week.) And I'd honestly forgotten that Andrew from GEICO was even a presence on the site.

I totally understand if those things bother you, but as someone who frequents their material, the bias you might expect is simply not evident in their content.

#45 Edited by Animasta (14648 posts) -

@Coafi said:

@Milkman said:

Geico customers sure are happy. How happy are they? Happier than a person who never has to read Polygon.

*cue the banjo*

watching stuff on hulu, this commercial shows up ALL THE TIME

IT'S THE WORST

just like this geico poster

#46 Posted by Mockduck (20 posts) -

I think it all depends on how it plays out. If the guy's a big gamer and wants to talk games, and doesn't insert lots of Geico-related discussion into his posts, it seems fine to me. Honest, actually, since it clearly calls out his allegiance.

#47 Edited by Branthog (7342 posts) -

@forkboy said:

@Branthog said:

@MethodMan008 said:

Doesn't bother me in the slightest, I actually think it's cool.

The documentary on the other hand, no so much.

What is it that you find cool about it, exactly? I can see it not bothering some people that much, but . . . I don't get that there's anything remotely cool about it?

It just seems all shades of "hey, how about that thing all you young people are into these days, huh? I sure love that thing! And speaking of that thing, stuff about that thing and my comments about that thing which are totally organic and not forced are brought to you by my employer, who totally gets you young people and that thing you are into these days -- GROOVY YOU COOL CATS!".

*shudder*

This is just the latest counter-measure against you & me & everyone else online using Ad-Aware & similar programs because internet adverts are often incredibly obnoxious. I think back to the time when the Vita launched & Giant Bomb had a large Vita skin all over the front page that made a lot of the text on the front page unreadable. And that's relatively innocuousness. So if the future of internet advertising is a company employ posting about video games? It's a fucking step up from pop-up adverts that make stupid noises when you mouse over them, that's for sure. I'm not saying I'm liking it, but at a certain point if we don't want to radically realign society from a consumer-driven one to an alternative then you just have to accept that advertising is a necessary evil. If it wasn't an insurance company but a games publisher, I'd be outraged. And I'm certainly not going to call it cool. But I'll accept it & do my best to ignore it. Which I grant you is easy seeing as I've been to Polygon once, on launch day.

I'd assert that it's a step-down from pop-ups. They're obvious and deniable. The subversiveness of embedding the brand-building into interactions with real people and communities is devious, harder to avoid, and can be difficult to discern. This interleaving of branding and marketing in every fiber of life that gets to be too much.

It's only GEICO and not EA, but if the audience doesn't give negative feedback, it's going to be ACTIVISION or SQUARE, eventually. (And we already have this exact thing going on in twitter, with the likes of . . . well, I don't need to mention the obvious -- but at least that isn't embedded in the conversation we're having, yet). If they see negative responses to it, they might thing twice about doing this. Or expanding it. Or, at least, trying it at other outlets. Its advertising's job to keep pushing and its the consumer's job to push back.

I gladly pay for great content and I'd say that if all a company can do is whine and moan about not being able to make money and/or exploit their audience as a product to sell to advertisers in really gross ways, then get upset at the audience for being put-off . . . should maybe just shut things down and find another line of work. Actually, I would say that this "industry" could do with the shuttering of a good 75% of it's "media outlets". A good brush-burning is healthy for the forest.

@Little_Socrates said:

Let me know when there's actually a trending bias in their reviews and games discussion other than Arthur Gies's tendency towards hyperbole and high scores and I'll get back to you. Right now, they write extremely strong material and do so consistently across multiple writers. It's honestly awesome to say that those things don't worry me. No Microsoft game has a chance of winning Polygon's Game of the Year (at least, not at Besties, which turned hardcore against Halo 4 this week.) And I'd honestly forgotten that Andrew from GEICO was even a presence on the site.

I totally understand if those things bother you, but as someone who frequents their material, the bias you might expect is simply not evident in their content.

If you can get past the jumbled interface, the presentation of the articles themselves is nice. I was put off by too much fluff content. Press releases and meaningless one-paragraph crap just because someone saw it in their inbox, twitter feed, or fax machine and needed to hit a mandated "50 updates per day" quota. They were getting close to Kotaku levels of "meaningless crap I can already get everywhere else" in my RSS feeds. They wouldn't have lasted long, for me, anyway, because of that. I don't mean "I can get a review on this game anywhere". I mean, actual content that isn't original (like reviews, commentary, features, etc). It seems to me that in this current atmosphere of gaming sites, you should dedicate yourself to spewing out parroted crap and press releases four dozen times per day *or* you should focus on providing good creative content that only your outlet offers. That's why GB works so well. You get a limited about of "and here's something posted on every other site in the last half hour" stuff and more "here's what these personalities have to say about this thing".

At the very beginning, I thought that's what Poly was going to be. Their original articles were lengthy and detailed and presented beautifully. But then the cruft started to slip in.

And I do agree that advertising doesn't always corrupt in all ways (but as someone who has been involved in the media a fair amount, I know that it absolutely influences). You really have to establish your credibility to become immune to having advertising tarnish you in people's eyes, though. I can't think of many people in that category. GB could be plastered in ads and I would probably still put trust in Jeff. I would probably say the same about Adam Sessler. Then there are plenty of people on my list of "writers" that would bend over for a bag of Raisenettes. My thing about this GEICO crap isn't "oh no, now GEICO is going to determine the scores of the next Mass Effect game on Polygon!". It's more 1) This is WEIRD as fuck and kind of... just... icky. as well as 2) For fuck's sake, can I have five seconds without advertising? Please?

But, yeah, I'm a little over-sensitive to that sort of thing.

I couldn't really decide where I came down on their podcasts. They really turned to shit at Joystiq, when McElroy left and Chris Grant tried to do his "THIS IS NPR" bullshit with it. Turned it into this disgusting parody of "This American Life" or whatever. Over-produced, not enough flow and interaction with the personalities at the site, etc. Polygon's podcast has improved a bit, but it's a far cry from the Joystiq podcast, which was pretty decent. It seems Chris Grant must still be in charge of production on it (though I don't know it to be fact).

#48 Posted by Animasta (14648 posts) -

@Branthog: to be entirely fair, I'd rather have a guy posting on forums than the extremely excessive ads that Extremist does, for example; it's just as annoying but I can ignore it.

#49 Posted by Coafi (1481 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Coafi said:

@Milkman said:

Geico customers sure are happy. How happy are they? Happier than a person who never has to read Polygon.

*cue the banjo*

watching stuff on hulu, this commercial shows up ALL THE TIME

IT'S THE WORST

just like this geico poster

The Geico commercials on Hulu are so baaddd. The one with the guy bashing the melons is one of the worst commercials I have ever seen.

#50 Posted by Kerned (1169 posts) -

@Little_Socrates said:

No Microsoft game has a chance of winning Polygon's Game of the Year (at least, not at Besties, which turned hardcore against Halo 4 this week.)

Besties is just a podcast with what I suspect is a small audience (I am a listener as well). It hardly matters if they "turn against" Halo 4 on a podcast when their site gave the game a 95. The 95 is what the publisher cares about, not whether a couple of guys talk shit about their game on a podcast no one listens to. The 95 is what's on Metacritic, not a transcript of them bitching about the game. When the average Joe wants to find out what Polygon's opinion of Halo 4 is, it's the glowing review that they will find, not last week's Besties.

I really enjoy Besties for the most part, but it's just silliness. Their GOTY selection isn't going to mean much to anyone.

And maybe there isn't a measurable score bias yet (I'm not interested in it enough to sit down and do the math), but they have created the appearance of impropriety, which in the world of real journalism is just as bad as actual impropriety. If they didn't pretend to be "journalists," I would have no problem with them.