Microsoft’s Sponsored Posts program has been shut down after it attracted the attention of Matt Cutts, the head of webspam at Google. The change came after Tech Crunch founder Michael Arrington said that he had received an email from Social Chorus offering compensation for posts that promote the new release of Internet Explorer.
The company wanted him to provide a link to the IE website. The campaign asked bloggers to write about their personal experiences with the software, but also asked that bloggers reveal, using specific wording, that the post was sponsored. The landing page for the sponsored post request asked bloggers to email their sponsored post rate, as well as the date that they were willing to publish the post and some information about the topic of the post. Social Chorus said that they would send a contract with information for the post and any assets that the blogger needed. This landing page has since been removed. Google has not commented on whether they will penalise Internet Explorer for running a sponsored posts campaign.
The Google Chrome browser website was penalised when it was caught being involved in a similar campaign so there is a precedent there. So far, Internet Explorer still ranks well for its own name, and is on the second page of search results for the more generic term ‘browser’, so it is possible that the search engine has decided not to ban them for this recently rectified transgression. When Google Chrome was banned, it briefly lost rankings both for its own name and for the more generic keyword.
Microsoft has released the developer version of their latest browser update, but the update is unlikely to bring back many consumers. There was recently a major zero day flaw found in the Internet Explorer browser, and this flaw drove away a lot of users, who turned to Firefox or Google Chrome as a preferred browser edition. Google Chrome is still the most popular browser in the world, and according to the W3 Counter its user base is growing rapidly. Internet Explorer’s usage is shrinking every month, and Microsoft will be eager to put that right. They issued a statement saying that they suspended the sponsored posts program and that they did not want people to think that it was representative of the way that the company works with bloggers or members of the press.