Nvidia, maker of graphics chips for multiple PC platforms, the Playstation 3, and portable devices, hired a Los Angeles-based marketing company, AEG, that offers traditional public relations services—press releases to media, editor contact, etc.—along with the possible gross practice of hiring employees to shill for clients on online discussion forums. Sister-site The Consumerist is questioning this practice and Nvidia's involvement in particular.
The research done by these gaming websites and communities fingered a few likely suspects, but did not prove outright that AEG s work quoted on their web site as Message board monitoring and response and Strategic seeding viral assets to ensure they are spread far and wide included placing ringers in their communities.
The real problem here is that forums are one of the last bastions of consumer discussion and shilling on them amounts to spam. We've all seen this happen in almost every industry—for example, I'm a big watch fan and wristwatch shills abound, posting all kinds of outrageous claims about clearly sub-par pieces. However, it is abhorrent in any case, and that it hasn't been discovered more often is a testament to the spinning abilities of other, larger companies or—I'm going out on a limb here—their honesty.
The Consumerist will likely be getting some follow-up interviews, so stay tuned.
Did Nvidia Hire Online Actors to Promote Their Products? [Consumerist]