Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Deutschmarks Uber Inhalt

Updated below

Vox has one-upped Talking Points Memo by putting a big name, Matt Yglesias, in charge of writing advertorials.  Read as Matt gushes in turgid prose over Uber:
Uber functions right now as, in effect, a taxi dispatch company though you also hear words like "ridesharing" tossed around. But they are about to dip their toes in the water of a different business — messenger services and deliveries.
Messenger services just in part of Manhattan is clearly a pretty small line of business. But it's an important sign about where the company is heading. They are known to the world as a car dispatch service, but they like to describe themselves as specializing in "urban logistics." Last December they staged this Christmas tree delivery marketing stunt [link removed - RA], that I said was likely a precursor to a broader move into delivery. And now you're seeing a version of that come to fruition with Uber Rush.
The ability to dispatch vehicles to arbitrary locations and efficiently route them through a city has a lot of potential applications beyond just taxis. Ultimately the company would like to make a much bigger push into the broader world of delivery and logistics, and this is the toe in those waters.
You think I'm joking.  

About the advertorial bit.  (Not the turgid prose bit.)

I'm not.  

Check out that li'l gray bar at the bottom of Matt's prose. The one with the tiny print in slightly darker gray. Which you probably ignored, even if you made it all the way past the giant promo photo and down to the bottom of the "story," because the "story" is identified as a "Top Story," and not as ad, on the homepage. Same here.

You'd think Uber would insist that its promoter not write like a summer intern for an Indiana congressman assigned to crank out the constituent newsletter.  Or maybe that's part of the plan.  

Vox wants to help people understand the news  Just maybe not completely.

Update:  It appears the l'il' gray "Advertisement" bar appears beneath all of the "Top Stories," even the ones without the uncredited publicity photos, press release headline and purely promotional tone. And none of those pages have clearly recognizable ads beneath the bar either. But if Yglesias' article is not meant as an ad, then what the hell is it?  (Besides even more hilarious.)


DonBoy said...

The grey BOX is an ad, for GE, which is sponsoring the series of videos called "Vox Conversations", which is where you go when you click on the grey box.

Roger said...

You are correct that the blue-gray box is an ad and is plainly labeled as such. The gray bar, which is separated from the box by inches of text, is not adjacent to anything which is an ad, unless the Yglesias story is an ad. The bar is either referring to the content immediately above and/or below, or it's a placeholder for ads not yet sold, or it's there for no reason. It's screwy however you look at it.

Montag said...

PR has been infecting journalism ever since Ivy Lee invented the press release. Still, one would think that li'l Matt would be a bit more nuanced about it, being the fresh-faced and bright young up `n comer that he is purported to be.

This is just plain embarrassing.

DonBoy said...

Huh. I don't think I'm seeing that grey bar at all, then, and I don't have an adblocker installed, I don't think. I looked in both IE and Chrome. So I don't know what's going on after all.

Roger said...

It's right beneath the "Tweet" "Share" "Share" icons at the end of Yg's text, and above the "Most Read" hed and yellow line.