I’ve just started blogging and am fascinated by the recent announcement of PayPerPost.com, a site that appears to offer me money to write favorably about products from specific advertisers. Even without any traffic to my weblog at all, I can now make at least a few bucks to pay for hosting and perhaps even a nice dinner once a month with my g/f. What’s your take on the service, Dave, and are you going to sign up?
Actually, the blogosphere has been quite abuzz with debate on this subject, almost all abject criticism. For example: Pete Blackshaw writes “We’re on the cusp of a tragedy of the marketing commons” and the astute Jon Fine of BusinessWeek describes the service as “polluting the blogosphere”. The always-colorful TechCrunch says “PayPerPost offers to sell your soul.” Oh, and Jeremiah Owyang expresses his concerns about PayPerPost thusly: ” I always knew that Marketers would figure out how to get involved, the risk however is corrupting the purity.”
At the risk of sounding like a bit of a contrarian, I think that everyone’s concerns are more than just a bit overblown. Not just bloggers, but people in general have always had the opportunity to shill or promote products or services with hidden and vested personal interests.
For example, if I quote someone and position them as an expert, is it because I really do feel they’re an expert, or because they’re a friend or colleague, or because perhaps I owe them a favor or two? Do you really think that everyone discloses everything in our modern advertising and marketing world? When you see a particular brand of soda on a TV show, do you expect a credit at the end “Thanks to our sponsor Pepsi-Cola”?
Anyway, I can’t criticize the folks who have launched PayPerPost.com because I feel like it’s pushing the envelope with online advertising, nothing more, nothing less. And that’s good in my book.
Further, what all the critical bloggers seem to have forgotten is that in addition to the crude and blatant advertising opportunities that require you to write favorably about a given advertiser to get payment, there are also opportunities to get paid to review a given product or service, regardless of whether you write something favorable or not.
That’s a bit different, isn’t it? Now it’s just paying for visibility, and there’s a massive world of online advertising in this category, even (arguably, at least) Google AdWords.
The PayPerPost blog explains it this way: “We recommend that advertisers don’t require positive or negative reviews, they will get the best posts with a neutral review (even if they are bad).”
Let’s consider their current advertising opportunities, and you’ll see that Ghetto Queen Rocks It Out, for example, will pay $5.01 for each blogger who mentions her album and links to her site. You can like it or not, that’s acceptable. Ditto Send Your Blog Into Space ($10 per link), Free Tax Software ($10 per link), and more. Heck, even our critical friends at Tech Crunch apparently have sold their souls, as they’re offering $2.50 for each blogger who mentions their posting (and no, I won’t be getting paid because I haven’t signed up for the program).
So should you check it out? Yes. I think that if there’s an opportunity on the site that’s consistent with what you’re already blogging about I do encourage you to consider joining. I also encourage you to have a bit of fine print somewhere in the posting that highlights the commercial nature of the blog, but that’s up to you.
Having said that, I discourage you from accepting the “say something nice or don’t say anything at all” opportunities, even if you love the product, because it really can destroy your credibility. Unless, of course, you explicitly state that you’re blogging about the product or service because of your PayPerPost relationship, and then it’s possible that your audience will prove understanding.
Finally, am I going to sign up? I don’t think so, as I already have a variety of different means to monetize my traffic. But I can’t rule it out. I’ll certainly keep an eye on the service and if there’s an intersection, I will definitely give it careful consideration.