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Media Morph: The Consumerist

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Every week MediaWorks’ Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages. This week: The Consumerist.
“In theory, we should appeal to anyone who has been screwed over by a company before, which should be -- last I checked -- every single person on the planet,” says its editor, Joel Johnson.

WHAT IT IS: Telemarketing schemes, rental-car snafus, shipping screw-ups, banking rip-offs -- they’re all documented at The Consumerist, the newest offering from that empire of digital snark, Gawker Media. (Find it at www.consumerist.com). A line from its mission page sums it up: “Capitalism is broken. We’ll help you fix it.” It’s radical chic for the 21st century.

WHO RUNS IT: Joel Johnson, formerly editor of Gawker’s gadget blog, Gizmodo.

WHO’S USING IT: Gawker sites are known for their young, upwardly mobile urban readership, but The Consumerist, just weeks after its launch, is more likely to be read by early-adopter types, Mr. Johnson says. “In theory, we should appeal to anyone who has been screwed over by a company before, which should be -- last I checked -- every single person on the planet.”

INVITATION ONLY: While The Consumerist looks to be a catalogue of shopper grievances, not just anyone can air their beefs there. It’s part of a Gawker-wide system in which you can only comment if you’re invited, an effort to fight spam and keep the level of conversation high.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: In a fragmented, democratized media environment, the praise and enmity of average consumers carry extraordinary weight. Think of this -- and other consumer sites like Planet Feedback -- as an always-on video feed of the consumer mind.

ADVERTISE, WE DARE YOU: Marketers aren’t exactly banging down The Consumerist’s door. It’s yet to pick up a dedicated advertiser. Mr. Johnson, however, is hopeful. “I’m still waiting for that first ballsy company to buy some ads -- almost as much as I’m looking forward to inviting readers to comment about the worst experiences they’ve had with that company.”

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