Friday, July 8, 2011

Credibility for Sale

ETA: After writing this blog post, I got into a discussion with several people about this. Multiple people mentioned that just because it says "sponsored links" doesn't mean that it is necessarily companies that are sponsoring Mothering Magazine. No one seems sure on if they are companies that sponsor Mothering Magazine OR if they are something like google powered ads. Regardless of what they are, the fact remains that they are THERE. There are three formula ads on the lactation consultant resource page which is a blatant and disgusting attempt at setting moms up to fail. Was this put on directly by Mothering Magazine? Perhaps not. But they do have some say in who advertises on their website, plain and simple. They can say they don't want this advertisement up there. If whoever controls the ads refuses? Well then go with someone else or sell your ad space privately. It is abhorrent that this is allowed on a resource page that is SPECIFICALLY meant for moms who are seeking breastfeeding support and help. Positively nauseating. I did bring this to their attention and I sincerely hope that Mothering Magazine will take action. If they do, I will happily let you all know and support them for taking a stance against unfair formula ads. If they don't, well, Mothering Magazine will lose my respect and business. 

While searching for lactation consultants for a friend who is pregnant, I came across this on Mothering Magazine:

There are THREE advertisements for formula companies on the listings of lactation consultants. THREE. I don't even know if I can fully express my deep disappointment with Mothering Magazine right now. My husband originally said they might be googled powered but on second glance you can see that it is NOT google powered.

These are sponsored links. Which means that Similac and Enfamil are paying to advertise on And they just so happen to be on the pages for lactation consultants. Do mamas who are having a fabulous time breastfeeding with no issues whatsoever seek our lactation consultants? NO. They do NOT. It is the mamas who need help...who are struggling...who are stressed out that are seeking out lactation consultants. The very mamas who would possibly fall into a booby trap and end up giving their babies formula. The formula companies disgust me. Their sneaky advertisements are just...I honestly just don't have words for what they are. They are horrifying. But this...this is just beyond my comprehension. Mothering Magazine, a well known resource who has over 44,000 "likes" on their facebook page is being PAID by formula companies to advertise on their lactation consultants webpage. This just goes too far...who can we trust? I was as shocked to see this as I would be if Kellymom had Enfamil ads! I fully intend on contacting Mothering Magazine about this. The cigarette companies used to pay doctors to endorse cigarettes...doctors. Aren't we supposed to be able to trust doctors? I'm not saying I"m getting out my tin foil hat and building a bomb shelter but honestly, Mothering Magazine is supposed to be one of the resources we can trust.

I'm so saddened by this and deeply disheartened. And people always wonder why the breastfeeding community gets up in arms about formula companies. They are everywhere. 


  1. Is there any other way to verify this? Does sponsored really indicate mothering, or does it mean that the formula companies paid google?

  2. I've heard either way...I don't know which way it is but even if it is that the formula companies paid google, then Mothering Magazine could choose not to use google ads, IMHO. Maybe I'm getting too up in arms about this but this is just one more thing that mothers who are struggling to breastfeed have to deal with when trying to find help.

  3. The formula companies do pay Google, yes. But Mothering gets to choose what categories they will and will not allow to be advertised. Now one could easily pick the "Parenting" category and Enfamil could advertise in the Parenting category. If Mothering chooses to do so, they can go to Google and say, "We do not want Enfamil (or whoever) to advertise on our pages" and Google will block that company from being advertised on Mothering in the future.

    A similar instance happened on a blog I follow, something that was very much against the bloggers views was advertised on her page and viewers let her know. She let Google know to block that company and they did.

  4. I used to be in web advertising. We used ads like this on a lot of our sites. They are automatically generated. Some are grossly inappropriate, some are crude. It can be hard to restrict them. Most of the time you have to actually SEE the ads first before you can get the right combination of words needed to block the ad from showing again. And then, of course, advertisers are smart and change that wording up again after some time to work around those that have blocked them. No, the ads being there aren't right, but I hardly think this is a case of anyone selling out. At it's worst, it's a matter of a less-than super vigilant web maintainer.

  5. Last year I subscribed to the print magazine, only to be told a few months later that the print edition would be discontinued, and there would be no refunds. (There was a replacement magazine, but it wasn't as interesting to me.) I tried to be understanding of the financial pressures on Mothering.

    In April I posted a message in the Mothering breastfeeding forums (where I had posted questions and replies before), letting the moms there know that as a result of my own struggles breastfeeding in public, I had created a not-for-profit website where we, as moms, could share and search for places we breastfeed while out. A few positive responses were added, and then my message was deleted, and I was sent an "Infraction" email saying that I was not to advertise in the forums, and that my account could be suspended if I continued to mention my site. Ouch.

    This latest news of formula ads showing up on Mothering adds a bit of insult to injury for me, someone who was trying to spread helpful information--not sell anything--to a group of moms who had helped me in the past.

    I agree with Christa that the responsibility for what is advertised where on their site falls on Mothering. If the ads are generated through Google AdSense or a similar service, they should choose a different service that allows more control of content. There may be a place for formula information and advertising on Mothering, but I cannot imagine how that place would be a page about lactation consultants.