Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Are the TMT media awards a way to scam media companies?

In May 2016 I received an email from TMT Media Awards stating that Sol Cinema- my own movie theatre had won an award. They wrote;
'The judges have made their final decision and I am pleased to announce Sol Cinema has won in the 2016 Media Awards! You have been named: Best Mobile Cinema Business - UK'

Great news...until I read into it more and realised that they seemed to have made up a category just so that they could award my cinema. The kicker came when TMT wanted to charge me anything up to £7995 to take out adverts in their own online magazine supplement to highight the award.

They wrote;
'As a distinguished award winner I am sure you will want to share this fantastic news, and to help you to do so, we will be publishing an Award Winners’ magazine'
TMT also emailed to inform me that I can also purchase my own winners award- a
crystal trophy for only £195 (excluding P&p and VAT). They sent me an example of how it would look. See below.
A mere £195 plus vat and postage

So it is just a vanity award. I then discovered that
the online  platform they use is issuu - a free electronic publishing platform for magazines, catalogs, and newspapers. So it costs them very little to produce. It is clearly a way for TMT to generate income by playing on companies love of an award. So I dismissed but it left a sour taste as I tweeted about it (below)



My Twitter posting
It wasn't long before other media companies then got in touch with me and I discovered they also faced the same issue. One company told me TMT nominated them as “Best Animation Studio” and were then asked for money for adverts. They labelled it a 'Scam alert'

They were also asked to fork out thousands of pounds to promote their nomination. One package included;

VIP Package: £4,995 Limited to one winner only
Main front cover image
4 full pages
Personalised digital winners’ logo
4 crystal awards
12-month web banner on our homepage
Digital bespoke e-brochure
1 display advert to appear in 4 issues of TMT Magazine
The Vice President of a US marketing company also got in touch asking me if the TMT email they got were from 'the same scamming organization' that I had encountered.

So it appeared I was not alone in thinking this was not right. So I wrote a blog post about my experience which attracted more attention and I gathered shared experiences. Then on November 2nd 2016 I recieved this email from Joey Banh| Digital Marketing Executive, AI Global Media who is connected to the TMT awards.



'We have noticed that you have posted an article for TMT News as a scam and this is within false context. We would like to request that you have this removed as it is defamatory against our brand.


I replied with the following;
Hello Joey
Perhaps you would like to offer another word other than scam and I can consider
replacing the word?

He never replied and on November 8th I found that my blog posting has been deleted by Google who wroe;

Google has been notified that content in your blog contains allegedly infringing
content that may violate the rights of others and the laws of their country. The
infringing content that has been made unavailable can be found at the end of this
message. For more information about this removal and how it affects your blog,
please visit https://support.google.com/blogger/bin/answer.py?l=en&answer=2402711.

The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed,
will be posted online by a service called Lumen at https://www.lumendatabase.org.
You can search for the notice associated with the removal of your content by going
to the Lumen page, and entering in the URL of the blog post that was removed. If you
have legal questions about this notification, you should consult your legal advisor.

Google deleted my original blog posting and let this message
A screen grab from the google search. The link leads to a deleted posting

A google search reveals another post about TMT (also known as Ai Global media) awards being a scam. But once clicked the link does not work so I can only assume that TMT have forced the deleting of this post also. (see screen grab above of the original google search).
So that is how they ensure that no-one hears any complaints about the TMT awards.  I had questioned myself why no-one else has posted their dire experience about this awards scheme.  Now I understand. TMT appears to be issuing take down notices on anyone who complains about their practises.

 

I also found another similar complaint to my own from this company in the USA.

They wrote;
'They are using SPAM with no true basis by which to solicit business. My personal opinion is this is a SCAM and I would not get involved with this firm.'
Anonymous in Miami, FL USA

In
response to being awarded the 'Most Innovative Law Firms of 2016 in the USA' the person wrote;
'The funny thing is, my company is not even a law firm so, it is rather obvious that their examination "of the sector in USA" is far from accurate'


A Marketing manager from AI Global later got in touch asking that I include their comments
'in the name of transparency and unbiased argument'

So here is what they have to say;

'
we are particularly sorry you feel this way about TMT Magazine and, I think, you may have completely the wrong impression of our publication...
We are a magazine that covers news and insight from around the global technology, media and telecoms industries and we also run several award programmes that are designed to publicize the success of companies within their respective fields.'

The way I see it is that awards are given so that TMT can sell advertising.
Yes award winners may get a mention somewhere on a TMT affiliated website but if you want a trophy then you have to pay for it. While they don't have to, companies are still being asked to pay large sums of money  to advertise their award presentation in an online magazine run by the same people who give the awards. While perhaps perfectly legal, it does appear to prey on the vanity of companies. For nearly a year now, I have received a constant stream of emails from TMT asking me to pay for an advert or a trophy. Six months after I first 'won' the TMT award, I still get emails offering me packages. In December I received an this 'package'
so TMT just don't give up

- Single page interview and inclusion in the magazine (approx.900 words)
- A personalised crystal trophy
- A personalised winners logo
- A Personalised winners certificate
- Copyright of the award title

O
ther bloggers have published about similar schemes and here and also here and here.
In my view, j
ust because it is a regular practise for advertising companies to lure potential customers in with awards, doesn't make it right.


Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions. http://www.undercurrents.org

8 comments:

TMT Magazine said...

Hi Paul,

On behalf of TMT Magazine, I would like to thank you for airing your opinion on TMT, we are always happy to hear a diversity of thought on how we operate. In this case we are particularly sorry you feel this way about TMT Magazine and, I think, you may have completely the wrong impression of our publication. Please allow me to talk you through our vision of TMT! We are a magazine that covers news and insight from around the global technology, media and telecoms industries and we also run several award programmes that are designed to publicize the success of companies within their respective fields.

We work with many reputable companies that happily accept our awards completely free of charge and they are free to use this accolade as they wish. The option to pay for additional advertising is always an option for anyone as well. At heart we are a magazine and whilst this means we are dedicated to creating interesting and meaningful content for readers it also means we are a way for businesses and companies alike to reach out to those readers.In essence, an advertising platform. Offering these services isn't an unusual practice within the publishing industry.

The online platform we use to host our digital magazine, Issuu, has a free option but also has paid options that we utilize. Issuu is following the same basic ideals as us, a completely free option with completely optional paid enhancements, except with us we are awarding recognition and the chance to freely promote that, with an additional option to pay in order to reach our readers about the company’s success and recognition with professionally curated content, design and promotion.

In regards to removing defamatory material from Google search results, this process is vetted by Google themselves and the decision lies completely with them, you are perfectly within your rights to appeal any decision made by Google and I can assure you this is the first time, as a publication, we've had to look into means of removing a search result from Google. Whilst we accept any criticisms and feedback from our readers and take all of that on board, the previous article you posted did have an effect on our day to day business activities by stating false information and within laws in the UK we were within our rights to request the result to be removed from Google search results. I would now reference the false information from your previous article but it would appear that it has been removed from your blog. I would like to stress that a Google search result removal does not mean that the webpage with infringing material will then be removed, this is solely based upon the discretion of the webmaster of the website.

If you would like to get in touch with us and have a conversation about any of these topics please feel free to give us a call on +(0)203 7256847 and ask for the Marketing Team, we’d be happy to help clear up any queries you may have :)

Dave Miller said...

I've done a little bit of digging - it does appear that TMT is a magazine under AI Global Media (a publishing house). TMT seems to be one magazine they own. The screen grabbed link at the bottom of the blog is from another magazine entirely, "Acquisition International". They do appear to be linked by the mutual publishing house, but that is all.
From what little I know about the legality of such publications, it appears they are perfectly legal. Choosing to allow anyone to read their magazines shouldn't be considered a red flag, and with that in mind, raising revenue through paying for advertising shouldn't be either. Many magazines do just that.
Of course, all emails you receive from them should include an unsubscribe link - it would be illegal not to. Everything else appears to be above board.

Paul O' Connor said...

Thanks for the info Dave. TMT and AI are clever enough to stay within the law but my point is that they play on the vanity of companies who like to state that they are 'award winning'.

If TMT were honest- they would say- send us £595 and we will send you an award for being the best company.







Anonymous said...

Having worked for a company that received an award from build-news.com (one of AI Global Media's many many sites) I was very suspicious too. Seemed like a pure scam to me but the company went through anyways. Later it turned out their article was basically our own words recycled with a few words thrown in between, apparently worth hundreds of euros.

They claimed they have a following of hundreds of thousands, but it appears that is very far from true. Just over 5000 according to similarweb.com.(https://www.similarweb.com/website/build-news.com#overview)

Here's the main company if anybody wants to look closer: https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07400916

With the sums they're charging this ought to get more attention.

Paul O' Connor said...

Thanks for your insights. I am receiving a number of similar stories of how this company operates
Anything you can share would be appreciated to help others not suffer under these Awards for Vanity

Anonymous said...

There isn't an awful lot I can add, but in short they sent us a questionnaire to fill out, and used our answers as direct quotes in the article. In short their "job" was to reformat it as if it had been an interview.

I dug up some of the emails, and the person behind them was "Naomi Douglas - Awards Executive"
from build-news.com.

She claimed their subscribers at 305,000. "Our editorial and design team have already begun preparations for the award winners' supplement, which will be distributed to our 305,000 subscribers, and featured on our website for 12 months, making this the ideal way to reach potential clients and associates."

The package prices varied from £525 to £6,995 with the top tier package being:

EDITOR’S CHOICE: £6,995 – limited to one winner only!
Main front cover image & headline
4 full pages (advert or editorial)
Custom press release
Winners’ logo
4 crystal awards
12 month interactive web banner on our homepage
1 dedicated full page in the next 12 issues of BUILD

I'm currently unable to verify which package our company purchased, but for what it's worth they did release the article as they promised. However for anyone thinking of paying them for an award on build-news or presumably any other of AI Global Media's platforms, you should be aware that even facebook can advertise your business to a wider audience for far less money.

Anonymous said...

We've worked with them an found the experience to be pretty good. We ended up getting some pretty decent exposure and around 10% boost in traffic to our site from an advertising campaign we ran with them, I think with things like this and companies in publishing you get out what you put in, we had a lot of involvement and worked in conjunction with their team to get this result. Whilst you're paying for advertising space, still you get out what you put in and if you're marketing and content isn't top of it's game in the first place there isn't a magic button to fix that.

Paul O' Connor said...

I would be interested to know who your company is. As you can easily imagine, employees connected with the TMT awards could try leaving favourable comments in an effort to bolster their tarnished image.