Marc Santora, the New York Times reporter who appears in ads for Dell's DigitalNomads site, says he received no compensation for the ad, which came from an interview Santora did for Big Think, a website backed by Facebook investor Peter Thiel. What appears to have happened: Dell or its ad agency, Federated Media, created the ad for Dell's DigitalNomads, using a clip from Santora's Big Think video. In a comment, Big Think cofounder Peter Hopkins says that Dell is a sponsor of his site, but the ad does not mention Big Think. (The Big Think interview was also published to YouTube, and DigitalNomads' producers embedded the clip in a blog post.) From what Santora's saying, no one asked him or the Times for permission to run the endorsement. If so, Dell could be in rather big trouble — and not just with the Times.FTC rules forbid deceptive advertising — such as an ad from Dell which suggests a New York Times reporter has endorsed its vision of mobile technology, when he hasn't. The agency also has strict rules governing endorsements, not all of which seem to have been followed here. Bottom line: Santora seems to be the victim of a sleazy new Internet-enabled advertising tactic. He does offer this amusing side note: The one time he wrote about Dell was when the computer maker's "Dude, You're Getting a Dell" spokesman was arrested on pot charges. Here's his note to us:

I am not really sure what to say about the item posted on your website about my being a "shill" for Dell. I was asked to do an interview fror a starter web site called "Big Think." I checked them out and they have interviewed a good number of respectable people and I had heard of no problems. They wanted to discuss the role changing technology has had in covering things like the war in Iraq. Seemed harmless. I received absolutely NO compensation. And I have no idea how they do their advertising. I am on vacation and on my way to India so will not be checking in much, but thought it might be worth clearing up any improper suggestions linger. BTW, if it matters — and I can't believe it does because this all seems a bit silly — the only piece I ever wrote about Dell was when "the Dell Dude" was busted for using pot. I think I wrote a couple of pieces on that actually.,%20Marc Anyway, going back to my vacation. Hope this helps. Cheers, Marc Santora