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I don’t know about you but my first fear when I read that Twitter will no longer allow ads in content streams was what will happen to all the celebrities who earn their bank rolls using a variety of sponsored ad programs. The first person who came to mind was Kim Kardashian. If you don’t know who Kim is, she is the spokesperson for some diet pill company.
The simple explanation is – if you use an application that posts content to your Twitter account, that application can’t post ads to your Twitter account.
But I am glad, for Kim’s sake, that there is an easy way to get around this! All she (and all other paid Twitter members) is to just post the ads directly. Apparently this isn’t an illegal usage of Twitter so long as you (or your paid representative, PR firm, intern, etc.) posts the advertisement and clicks the “Tweet” button with a human hand.
The CEO of SponsoredTweets parent company, Izea, Ted Murphy has posted an update with the details of how his SponsoredTweets service will work going forward. Ted notes that his members will need to post updates themselves instead of using his automated service. They will also be doing more investigation on their members to make sure they are of the highest quality.
In other Twitter news, Alex Wilhelm suggests that Twitter is now a real company because they have a business plan. I suggest that you need customer service to be a real company. With everyone “mad” at Twitter’s changes, I continue to point to all of my posts related to not building solely on another company – leveraging is fine.
I’ve flown on British Airways three times and all three flights went well. The last time on British Airways was in 2006 and was a short hop from Venice to London and I remember the crew making the trip smooth for someone who really doesn’t enjoy flying. So it was a shock to learn that an airline that has a good reputation is buying reviews and paid posts. I decided to take a look at two posts, one from former tech blogger Meghan Asha and the other from her NonSociety partner Jordan Reid.
You can read the posting on SocialSpark (that’s Izea’s posting service) where British Airlines outlines what they require to be included in the post. The paid post provides for $15 in earnings although I believe some Izea posters make more than what is listed.
It’s interesting that the posts from Jordan and Meghan basically follow the required script from British Airways exactly. Is that where the “real opinion” comes from? One requirement is that the post is more than 200 words; Meghan’s comes in below that at 186 words. Both bloggers provide a small button to note that the post is paid although it is at the bottom of the post. I know Izea founder Ted Murphy talks about the importance of disclosure is his network’s paid posts which is a good thing. One change I’d like to see is that the button is moved to the top and clear language is added to the top of every post noting that the post is paid. You may never even see the button on the two blogs because of the non-traditional layout that the NonSociety site employs.
Izea, the maker of PayPerPost and SocialSpark has announced the launch of their “blogger advisory board” today. Izea CEO Ted Murphy explains, “The Advisors will be working together with our management team to guide the company in product development, outreach and further enhancement of our code of ethics.”
The group is paid with options, not direct cash. The group includes: Chris Brogan, Michael Brito, Brian Clark, Jim Kukral, Neil Patel, Wendy Piersall, Jeremy Schoemaker and Missy Ward.
The bloggers are responsible for disclosing when they post about Izea. Seems like your typical advisory role trade: stock/options for insight along with some linking from time-to-time. The group will meet at Izea’s HQ in December. I look forward to reading the minutes from the meeting.
While I am not a fan of paid reviews, I am all for paid advertorials on blogs. We are starting to see more advertorials popping up and my hope is that we see more going forward.
It’s interesting to see Neil Patel’s name on the list given his arrangement with Techcrunch. As many of you know, Techcrunch doesn’t like Izea.
SocialSpark CEO Ted Murphy provided a business update yesterday regarding his paid blogging program. I’ve embedded the presentation below. At the basic level, SocialSpark (formerly PayPerPost) allows advertisers to get bloggers to write about their product or service. Murphy says the product is about connecting advertisers with people who create content online. They represent 18,000 advertisers and 190,000 bloggers (they call them posties).
Murphy explains that the core benefits of SocialSpark are: brand awareness, word of mouth, traffic generation, social media optimization, and content creation. The admin panel they built is actually quite impressive.
I have a variety of concerns with SocialSpark and paid reviews in general. Here’s just one concern. there’s no requirement for the review to be positive but let’s be honest here. If you write 2-3 negative reviews, what company is going to want to send you their gadget? Zip.
As I’ve written about numerious times before, I’d love to see a blog advertorial network. No reviews, just advertorials. As more blogs move to RSS, I believe we will see more advertorials popping up.
IZEA (formerly PayPerPost) CEO Ted Murphy is on the offensive today. Last night he asked me on Twitter to review a post on the IZEA blog regarding performance of his paid blog network versus an advertising campaign on ReadWriteWeb (RWW), an "a-list" tech blog. If you read only a few posts today, his should be one of them. In general, Murphy’s analysis could work for any display advertising.
He begins by explaining that he purchased a one-month advertisement on ReadWriteWeb for $3,000 and then purchased $3,000 worth of paid posts within the IZEA network. The paid posts came from 220 publishers of all sizes across the network.
His analysis then goes on to determine that 725 clicks came from RWW over the month while his paid blog posts delivered 832 clicks and that the paid blog posts will continue to return some value over time as the posts live on forever (whatever forever means in Internet years).
Murphy also notes that by posting the "job" on his network, he had at least another 500 of his paid bloggers check out the company – that’s already nearly more than RWW sent. He ends the analysis with the following statement, "people clicking links in sponsored posts have a genuine interest in the site they are clicking through to." The average Internet user has no idea what sponsored means. I’ve tried to explain this to Jason Calacanis as well but shrugged it off.
Was IZEA’s product the right one for the RWW audience? For example, last month TechCrunch ran a sponsor ad for car tires. Do people looking for the latest tech news care about car tires? Are they in the "zone" to go purchase a set of 170R15s? We know nothing about the people who visited from either RWW or the purchased blog posts. How many from either actually "converted"? Murphy leaves this out.
While Murphy’s analysis isn’t spot on and there are some huge holes in his theory, he is pushing the conversation of display advertising versus paid posts a step further. It’s a good discussion to have. And for clarity, I am not in favor of paid reviews. I am totally in favor of advertorials on blogs. Mark my words that by the end of 2008 we will see advertorials on blogs as a normal course of business.
Murphy makes a challenge at the end to Pete Cashmore, Robert Scoble and Jason Calacanis. He wants to run a paid post on one of their sites and compare the results to a wide campaign using the publisher network on IZEA. I assume he won’t get any takers for the test.
Have we moved from paid blog posts to paid viral video posts? It sure seems that way with the post coming out of Techcrunch tonight. Let me start by saying that about 2 months ago, a local NY startup posted a comment on a post on CN which seemed more like a marketing ploy than a legit comment. When I called the company to ask them about it, they said that they hired a firm to plant comments all over the place. We exchanged some emails with them telling me that they knew better than I – I said fine. Eventually they came back and said I was right.
Over my years in a role where I either made decisions or was party to the decisions at one of the largest public companies, so many Internet marketing scams came across my desk. The one thing I said all along was that if anyone finds out you are running a scam, it will be bad… very bad.
Before we jump into the info below – let me say that gaming only works for a short time because eventually everyone begins to game the same way. Dan speaks about 100k views, eventually its 1m, 5m, etc. And the most important part is what Dan leaves out – the real net benefit – which there probably is none. Anyone can get numbers my friend. Is Dan selling us the new paid post which just happens to be a video?
Tonight we have Dan Greenberg who is the newest infomercial salesman – "I can get you to 100k views on your video!" — Reminds me of the guy who in his latest infomercial now teaches others how to sell infomercials because he wanted to finally show everyone how to do it. And now Dan is doing the same for us! Is this what he is teaching the new class at Stanford where he is a TA?
Dan can’t tell us who his clients are because naturally it would ruin them. Don’t worry Dan, we already know.
I love part 3 – "The Core Strategy" – which is basically to fake everything and pay to get hits. Here is one nugget, "Blogs: We reach out to individuals who run relevant blogs and actually pay them to post our embedded videos. Sounds a little bit like cheating/PayPerPost, but it’s effective and it’s not against any rules." LAWL.
Dan also teaches us thumbnail optimization – "It’s no surprise that videos with thumbnails of half naked women get hundreds of thousands of views."
The good doctor sums up the article better than I ever could, "That is, when there is financial incentive and opportunity to game a system — even when that system has the appearance of being “open”, “transparent”, and built upon the goodwill and trust of its users (how typically quaint!) — someone will do it."
Howard Lindzon notes, "Forget the tricks, the ones given are old news. They don’t build audience. Who cares about 100,000 views. Wallstrip does not have one video on YouTube with 100,000 views. That was never important to Adam, Jeff and I…audience was. That comes from showing up every day with an idea and a focus. That created influence. I would say we proved that."
The part Howard leaves out is that marketers and advertisers still care (unfortunately) about numbers instead of the audience he speaks of.
Lastly, Ashkan Karbasfrooshan weighs in with, "It’s a numbers’ game, for sure, but you shouldn’t be cooking the numbers to win. Call me naive, call me idealistic, but that’s my philosophy."
Look, here is the bottom line in a much shorter post than the one on TC – any system will be gamed. And any system where there is a financial stake will be gamed even further. But it lasts for a short time and the negative consequences far outweigh the temporary benefit.
This weekend’s blogstorm comes from the paid end of the Internet. Ted Murphy from Izea has a article stating that Google is going after the "everyday blogger". While I have defended ppp in the past a couple times, sorry Ted, ya got this one wrong. Ted notes that many of the paid review bloggers had their Google pagerank lowered or removed all together.
Ted notes, "I find it laughable that high profile bloggers like TechCrunch aren’t being penalized in the same way. Perhaps it’s the fact that they use AdSense. Perhaps it’s the fact that they are silicon valley insiders and are invited to special Google events. Either way I don’t see the difference between a sponsored post in our system or this sponsored post. Both are paid for, neither use no-follow."
I have these type of "thank you sponsor" posts on CN as well. These are not reviews. These are simple links thanking the sponsors of a site. And I have reviewed hundreds of products and books over the last 10 years on HTMLCenter.
I am all for paid advertorials for blogs. I pushed ReviewMe to look at this and they have added it as an option. If Izea moved from paid reviews to advertorials, it would be fine as well. And I will put all my chips in that it would actually increase Izea’s business. Check out an example advertorial on Silicon Alley Insider. With RSS so prevalent, advertorials are a great way to hit the RSS base. If advertorials worked, there would be no need for paid reviews.
There has been a lot of talk about paid links and now paid reviews and Google’s stand on them. Is it because Google wants to be the only one selling links? At the size and power Google is at, can they still operate as a "normal going concern? Mathew and Andy have some additional differing insights.