You've probably heard in certain Web circles about networks that, if you're a blogger, pay you to write about a specific advertiser. And, if you're an advertiser interested in generating attention in the blogosphere you've undoubtedly heard about the potential in such networks as PayPerPost, ReviewMe, Blogsvertise and others. Some blogging pundits are not keen on the idea of this most recent market trend, while others don't mind so much. Either way, thousands of bloggers are joining these networks and advertisers of all kinds are joining the fray to access and derive an oft elusive value from consumer generated media.
Value For Advertisers:
From the advertiser's perspective there are a few ways of looking at generating buzz in the blogosphere, something infinitely challenging in a space with 55 million players. The fact that you have to pay for access leads many industry insiders to believe that such practices pollute with selfserving, fluff reviews of products or services that otherwise would never generate attention on their own. Other industry insiders believe what we're seeing is a leveling of the playing field and, you guessed it, the big time bloggers don't like it at all. For the cost of a modestly-priced deli lunch you can have a blogger write about you in the most glowing words they can muster and link to your site using the anchor text of your choosing - great for optimizing your website in search engine indexes.
"As a publisher, the only change for me has been frequency. With more to write about, it opens up a lot of doors. For advertisers it presents an opportunity outside of banners or Adsense, so the reach is greater." Julie Vazquez - JuliesJournal.com (On the value proposition to publishers and advertisers)
Value For Publishers:
From the publisher's (blogger's) perspective, money can be earned by following along the same path they are used to - writing about things they are interested in or passionate about. While many bloggers won't become rich writing posts sponsored by advertisers it does present an excellent supplemental income earned from current advertising inventory. Some "serial posters" have earned thousands of dollars from engaging in paid-to-blog services. While it may be a stretch, another value for publishers is the new and greater awareness of the advertisers in their niche. Few will disagree that informed bloggers mean a more accurate representation of an industry as a whole.
"While a lot of people are up in arms over the PayPerPost model, at least PPP does require full disclosure, so that a reader can make their own choices, based on the quality of content that they are receiving." Marie Braden - Calexxia.com (On the topic of disclosure)
The Obvious Problem:
The over-riding issue with such solutions revolves around disclosure. Truly in its infancy, finding a solution or developing a standard that will benefit both advertisers and publishers will be difficult. As it stands right now, disclosure policies vary. ReviewMe requires it, PayPerPost now also requires it and Blogsvertise has taken an approach of not forcing disclosure but not mandating it either. "We suggest to bloggers that they do what they feel appropriate," said Blogsvertise CEO and founder Robert Langford. "What we're seeing so far is about 50/50 disclosure."
Still, questions remain. Is the advertiser getting true and useful feedback that can help their business? Will respected bloggers begin to lose clout? Is the blogosphere going to get choked with what amounts to millions of PR novices? As long as they both are making money, does either party care?
The Current Players
The Web is experiencing an influx in services that manage blog advertising and paid publisher (blogger) posting and they are actively fighting it out much to the pleasure of the entire Web.
PayPerPost: Introducing its services in 2006 to quite a bit of fanfare, PayPerPost essentially developed the paid blog posting model to the great pleasure of many bloggers and advertisers. Advertisers can get started for around $10 per post (of which PPP takes a cut) while bloggers can earn anywhere from $2-$20 per post for writing about any number of topics (just two a day, not back to back, on a blog that's at least 90 days old) and the companies that support them. PayPerPost now requires disclosure after sharp criticism and has made available disclosure templates for use by bloggers at disclosurepolicy.org.
ReviewMe: ReviewMe caters to more exclusive blogs and enables advertisers to select which blogs write about them while mandating disclosure. Publishers need sizable yet undetermined traffic to be accepted into the network. ReviewMe gauges fees according to a blogger's Alexa ranking and the number of subscribers to its RSS feed.
Blogsvertise: Another formidable player in the blogetization market. What separates this service from the rest, but similar to ReviewMe, is that advertisers select which bloggers write about their products or services. Blogsvertise is unique from an SEO benefit perspective by requiring three links to an advertiser's URL from a permanent listing.
CreamAid: Presenting a significant shift in approach, CreamAid presents conversations to bloggers. Advertisers first create a "conversation widget" and offer to pay bloggers to write about a suggested topic. When bloggers accept and create a post, if the advertiser selects the post, it's featured across participating blogs.
Digital marketing executive with proven experience in all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), performance-based advertising, consumer-generated/social media, email marketing, lead generation, Web design, usability, and analytics. - 20-year Internet marketing veteran, currently serving as the Digital Marketing Campaign Manager at Antenna Group (formerly Chicago Digital). - Former Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine, and a regular speaker on Web technology digital marketing strategy - Author of several books on digital marketing Including Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web Success; Affiliate 360: The Fundamentals of Performance Marketing; Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names, and SEO 360: The Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.