All About Content

Online Networking, Working the Net

Posted by Melanie Phung on Saturday, December 2, 2006 at 8:47 pm

Even before social networking became a huge buzz word, everyone knew what online dating was; it generally didn’t enjoy a great reputation. Since then dating has become much more legitimate in the eyes of the public, with major conferences held on the topic, but it still has it pitfalls:

“Match.com officials said they’ve tried to lessen the amount of liars and scammers on their site by screening every member profile and photos. Each month, they reject about 15 percent of the submitted profiles that don’t reach their standards.” (source: Post-Tribune)

Not every psycho killer gets caught by the filters though. According to a recent news story, a man featured on the crime show America’s Most Wanted was apprehended after someone identified his photo on a dating site called Plenty of Fish. He admitted to being a shy guy who loved to cuddle, but conveniently left out that thing about a double homicide. The founder of Plenty of Fish reassures everyone that his profile was taken down.

For more fun coverage of people searching the Internet for a love match, and the industry that loves them, check out Online Personals Watch. And if that’s still not enough, go to Miami, January 15-16. Sponsored link: The Social Networking Conference focuses almost exclusively on the online dating industry. Early-bird registrants save $150.

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Category: Paid Content

My Unpaid "Paid Posting" for Blogsvertise

Posted by Melanie Phung on Friday, November 24, 2006 at 9:40 pm

Everyone except Blogsvertise staff, please go ahead and ignore this. (Or not. Who am I to tell you what to do.)

I signed up for and blogged about ReviewMe last week while I was at PubCon. About 5 days later I got a message in my dashboard that my review was approved and that I’d be getting $30.

Today I signed up for Blogsvertise, both as a publisher, and then as a blogger. Blogsvertise is also a paid blogging service like ReviewMe and PayPerPost, but it differs quite a bit in how it works.

Here are the (terribly written) Blogsvertise rules:

  • You do not have to necessarily endorse the advertiser’s website products or services, just mention them in your blog.
  • You will be assigned tasks by the administrator to write about in your blog.
  • Within your entry you must include 3 links to the website url in your blog.
  • At least 1 paragraph of approx 50-60 words or more is required for blog entry approval.
  • The task/entry must be completed within 1 week of being emailed to you.
  • Your blog entry must remain online and be a permanent entry in your blog.
  • And of course the usual “we can decide not to pay you if we don’t feel like it” rule.

Blogsvertise vs. ReviewMe
Only the first rule above applies to both services; after that the two services differ significantly.

  1. ReviewMe requires the blogger to disclose that the posting is paid for. Blogsvertise operates more like Pay-Per-Post (read my entry called Pay-Per-Shill), in which bloggers can decide whether to reveal that their post is, in effect, paid publicity.
  2. As an advertiser on Blogsvertise, I indicate how many posts I’d like to buy (with the default level being $20) and then Blogsvertise staff will assign items to various bloggers at their discretion. So, for two hundred bucks, Blogsvertise will get 10 bloggers to write about your site. From what I understood talking to the guy manning the booth at PubCon, this is a manual editorial process.

    I’m not signed up as an advertiser on ReviewMe, but from what I can tell, the advertiser on this service can choose which blogs they want their ads to appear on, based on a catalog of blogs organized by level. Some blogs (based on their Alexa rankings and inbound links) can command $250, whereas smaller blogs cost $60. Pay-per-Post, where I also don’t have visibility into how the advertiser side of the program works, is described as an RFP system, where you post an item, and bloggers “apply” to do those jobs.

  3. An obvious difference to me, as a blogger, is that ReviewMe paid me $30 for my ad about them. Blogsvertise isn’t giving me bupkis; I had to write this entry as part of an application to join their blogger network. Payout is supposed to be $5 to $10 per entry for new members, much lower than ReviewMe. At that rate, a person would need to do a lot of these before she saw any reasonably sized checks.
  4. As an advertiser, this is probably the model I’m going to prefer. For one, it’s cheaper. Two, Blogsvertise requires three links in each entry, unlike ReviewMe, which didn’t appear to require any links. That’s a major bonus if you are looking at these types of services from a link-building perspective. True, the blogger can choose to use completely irrelevant anchor text to link to you, but they probably won’t. Unless they just trying to be a pain in the ass. (Ahem.)

With all of these services, there is some danger of a backlash. We don’t yet know how this paid content model is going to be received by the general public (when and if they really figure it out), and it will be easy to find detractors who will try to use this against the advertisers, accusing them of astro-turfing.

I certainly wouldn’t want the Blogsvertise administrator to assign something to a blogger who is already known to be a passionate and vocal critic of my company. But I wouldn’t know. Worst case scenario, lots of people write about your site, but not one has anything good to say and they aren’t linking to your site with relevant anchor text.

Once I see what sort of results I get as an advertisers, I’ll update.

Click Here to Advertise on My Blog
Click Here to try Blogsvertise Advertising

Comments (2)

Category: Monetizing,Paid Content

Paid Posting: ReviewMe’s Pay-Per-Post Service

Posted by Melanie Phung on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 at 4:27 pm

One of the topics being covered in the PubCon session I’m attending is reputation management and the ethics (I’m fighting the urge to put “ethics” in quotation marks) of paying people to blog about your company.

Last week I signed up for ReviewMe, a competitor to PayPerPost, which is paying bloggers to blog about them. At the time I was told I had 48 hours to post my review. Afraid that I missed my chance to earn a whopping $30, I logged in to see if I could find some way around that time limit. Here we are half a week later, and I’m told I still have 48 hours to post my review. I like the false sense of urgency they created here.

I don’t see this business model becoming very powerful until it reaches a certain level of scale (i.e., these sites become large enough to act as an advertising marketplace). But once the concept of pay per post ads are recognized by the general web population, I think people will get really good at simply ignoring them — akin to the “banner blindness” phenomenon.

However, while I wouldn’t become an investor in something like ReviewMe, I don’t think they are wasting their time. Review me is asking advertisers for $60 for a post on sites like mine — blogs are evaluated in terms of traffic and number of inbound links — but only paying the blogger $30. They make 50% on the transaction and their own costs are minimal.

I can see plenty of D-list bloggers like myself flocking to try this once or twice, but the money is going to be in getting advertisers to return. So the question is, would I, as an advertiser, pay $60 to have someone like me write some mediocre content about my company? Actually, probably. The advertising ROI is questionable, but in terms of SEO value, sixty bucks for a permanent, crawlable link to my commercial site isn’t bad.

As a blogger, however, you can’t ask to write reviews; the advertiser needs to approach you. So what do you want to bet that this is the only ReviewMe paid posting that I’ll ever do?

So there ya go. That was my $30 opinion on ReviewMe. Sound interesting? Sign up with my affiliate link.

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Category: Monetizing,Paid Content

Pay Per Shill

Posted by Melanie Phung on Saturday, July 8, 2006 at 4:50 pm

Nevermind the whole business of pitching your company’s press release to a blogger and crossing your fingers for a mention and an open dialogue about your story. A new service called Pay Per Post is starting an online marketplace to connect advertisers with bloggers looking to get paid for company-sponsored blog entries.

The pitch to advertisers is this: “Create buzz, build traffic, gain link backs for search engine ranking, syndicate content and much more. You provide the topic, our network of bloggers create the stories and post them on their individual blogs.”

Bloggers on the network will be able to go through “opportunities” like they might RFPs and pick what they are willing to do on their site. As a blogger, you then “create a post on your blog, paying attention to the Opportunity requirements the advertiser has set forth. Then submit the direct link back to us. Our team will review the content and either approve or deny the post.”

After Pay Per Post ensures the requirements have been met, money is taken out of the advertiser’s escrow account to pay the shill blogger for the posting.

As you can imagine, some people are outraged, especially since there does not appear to be any requirement for disclosing that these postings are in fact advertisements. The current issue of Business Week magazine even has a story called Polluting the Blogosphere which warns of a backlash.

Ted Murphy, Pay Per Post’s founder and the company’s blogger this weekend responded proudly: “I am meeting with a few different private equity groups next week to help blow this thing out. I am wondering if all this buzz and controversy is going to be a good thing or a bad thing. I guess the important thing to them is we are making money…”

Well, at least he’s being honest – let’s see if the paid bloggers will end up following his lead.

Comments (3)

Category: Blogging,Monetizing,Navel-Gazing,Paid Content