Condé Nast shuts 3 blogs: failed astroturfing attempt?

Condé Nast is closing three blogs you’ve probably never heard of: Product Fiend, Elastic Waist and Daily Bedpost.

All three were launched in 2007 as an attempt to leverage traffic back to key Condé Nast sites, and all display links back to Condé Nast sites including Glamor, Allure and Self. According to MediaWeek, a staff memo said that the sites were an experiment that could no longer be sustained in the current economic environmment.

What’s interesting about each site is its separation from Condé Nast itself. Each is uniquely themed and offers no upfront disclosure of the relationship aside from a Condé Nast copyright notice in the footer. The About us pages on each don’t mention Condé Nast at all, and for the casual visitor they all look like independent blogs, be it in a network of three (each site offers links to each other).

They may not count as outright astroturfing in a traditional sense, but they are close enough to be within the broader definition, particularly given the links back to Condé Nast properties with zero disclosure of the relationship besides the copyright notice. It may not be a huge issue either: none of the sites rank particularly well for traffic, making it perhaps a failed astroturfing effort.