June 30th, 2006

PayPerPost Will Taint Us All

by

The phenomenon called blogging has now been starkly divided into the pre-PayPerPost era and the post-PayPerPost era. I’m referring to a new service that makes an explicit business model out of what up until now has been an implicit accusation, often leveled without cause. PayPerPost enables companies to pay bloggers to say nice things about them — and as Marshall Kirkpatrick points out (and I share his disbelief):

There does not appear to be any requirement that the payment for coverage be disclosed. There is a requirement that PayPerPost.com must approve your post before you are paid.

Blogging has now been irrevocably tainted. No one can say anything even remotely positive about a company — or negative for that matter — without being accused of being on the PayPerPost payroll.

I encountered this the other day when I made some enthusiastic comments about Jellyfish, a new shopping search engine. I was accused, without cause, of being a “patsy” for Jellyfish.

Now it won’t matter if I say that I have no financial relationship with a company. The taint is there — the question will be ever present — is this what you REALLY think, or have you been bought and sold?

Blogging should have seen this coming. We all scoffed at the rigid, elitist hierarchies of traditional journalistic organizations — but now we know why they are so uptight.

We promoted the hell out of blogging as a revolutionary form of marketing — and now we see the dark side.

But the situation is even worse for blogging because many of us are just individuals with a personal point of view. It’s a lot harder to accuse an institution of being bought and sold, because that involves complicity among many people.

But to accuse me, Scott Karp, is easy.

It’s the Swift-Boating of the blogosphere. Once you’ve been slimed, there’s nothing you can do to shake it off.

All I can think to do, which is what I did when accused the other day, is focus on the analysis and the substance of what I have to say — that should speak for itself.

But even as I write that, I don’t believe it will be enough.

This is a sad, sad day for blogging, for publishing, for journalism, and for the new media revolution.

UPDATE

I realized that I forgot to ask how much BusinessWeek got paid to write the article about PayPerPost so that they could use “As Seen in BusinessWeek” on their site. Was it $1,000 — or $10,000 — or $50,000?

Or perhaps Jon Fine received a personal payment — what was it Jon? Cash? A gold watch? A golfing trip?

Let me be clear — I don’t really think BusinessWeek got paid. My point is — the taint is everywhere.

  • steve

    A BlogSpot Comment I've read a lot about this matter over the last few days, mostly dumping on PayPerPost ... but the preceeding link makes the most well thought out and best points of any I have read so far. And after visitng the payperpost.com and taking a look around it became obvious that PayPerPost isnt' geared toward the high-brow media style blogger. The advertisers and bloggers are those who are trying to create buzz for a product and make a few bucks in their spare time respectivly.

    It's like trying to compare a Mercedes Benz shopper to a Ford Focus shopper ... they have nothing in common. Disclaimer: I was NOT paid to post this! ;)

  • By Mark Devlin’s definition, just TALKING to a ANY commercial interest automatically turns you into an advertisement.

    Don't put words in my mouth. I neither said, nor implied this.

    You did much more than talk to a commercial interest. You promoted a company as "revolutionary" without even seeing their site, and without giving your readers enough information about the service to comment about it. In other words you promoted Jellyfish at the expense of your readers.

    So far in your defence of the issue you have used ad hominem attacks, issued a vague threat about what happened to others who have crossed you, suggested I had an external agenda (including possibly owning stock in Google Adwards, or stock in a Jellyfish competitor), suggested that I have sour grapes because you didn't mention Crisscross on your blog, implied that I accused you of posting for money, and falsely attributed a definition to me.

    I hope you will let this go now, as your defence tactics are, to my mind, harming you more than the original issue.

  • scott,
    no doubt, you're right the blogosphere is becoming "mess-ier" as entities such as payperpost enter the fray. i would argue the blogosphere gets more difficult to find the good stuff each and every day simply because there are thousands of new blogs created. it's like going to a grocery store and finding the shelves and overflowing with merchandise to the point where you can't find the kraft dinner. hence, the need for a tool/service that can figure out or suggest the good stuff.

  • Scott

    This is the key question, isn’t it — it’s all about control. Will companies pay money and cede control? I doubt it. I they find they can’t effectively control the message, then they’re not going to continue to pay for the service.

    This is another self-correcting problem. If companies try to exert more control, the most valuable bloggers -- the honest ones -- will stop posting their links. Those companies will then get low return on their marketing spend, and they'll stop using the system, eventually leading to only companies that understand they have to allow the bloggers to control the message putting up requests for links.

    When you really look at it, PayPerPost is nothing, NOTHING except a sponsored link, placed inside a post that is related to the link. The main difference between a "paid post" and a Google ad on your blog is thte PayPerPost link appears next to something interesting you have to say about it.

  • Scott, every newspaper in the free world gets accused of the same taint on their reviews. They just don't have an instant feedback mechanism that displays the complaint to the world, unedited.

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