It turns out there are plenty of sites like Creamaid, which I wrote about the other day, out there. PayPerPost is one of the biggest, so I signed up to see what it’s like. And um, also because one of the featured “opportunities” was writing about World of Warcraft and you’d get $3 for a post on that, the front page said, and hey, I already write about World of Warcraft all the time. Like Creamaid, the deal is you write about requested topics and are paid from three to ten dollars for your post. Once you’re signed up you get access to all the “opportunities”. Currently there are about a hundred – but to my slight distress I couldn’t find the write-about-WoW “opportunity”. Others varied in their degree of detail. Some are very specific:

The post should describe about culture and how marriage affects culture. It should cover the topics., 1) Is Marriage Really needed? 2) Asians gives more value to marriage, For example in India, I see that Online matrimonial Portals are making a great income. For example, i came across, Bharatmatrimony.com, It seems to be the leader of online Matrimonial services. 3) They try several innovative ideas, like, launching of the First matrimonial toolbar, Also Provides RSS feeds., Even yahoo has shown an interest on them and has invested in them. (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/765)

Mention-bharatmatrimony.comA Technorati search suggests this attempt at generating buzz hasn’t been all that successful. Other “opportunities” want you to plug a javascript into your blog post, and give you extra money for each click-through you get. There’s a x-mas gift service, for instance, that specifies that in your post, with the javascript that shows top-selling gifts, you need to include a sentence about how bloggers will be making money this Christmas, and not just on PayPerPost! (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/738) Some are clearly not really targeting readers but search engines:

Need 36-100 word articles on Whitetail Deer Hunting, naturally written articles incorporating the 3-5 key words linked to the URL as indicated below. Key words: Trophy deer hunting, Guided deer hunts, Archery hunting – link: “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com/strategies” Key words/phrases: Deer hunting guide, Hunting land, Whitetail deer hunting – link: “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com”Keywords: Deer hunting equipment, Hunting blinds, Spotting scopes, Rifle scopes – link: “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com/equipment” Key words: Deer antlers -link is “http://www.The-Deer-Hunting-Guide.com/whitetails”Keywords: Hunter – link: “http://www.TheDeer-HuntingGuide.com/the_harvest” Links related to subject. Min page rank-3. (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/828)

The only difference between this and comment spam is that they’re paying bloggers three dollars to do it and that humans, presumably, can make more “natural” and thus un-detectable-as-spam blog posts than machines.

The highest paying “opportunity” I saw was for PayPerPost itself (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/702). They’ll pay you $10 to post a link to a piece on them in TechCrunch. Not to the most recent critical piece, but to a slightly older piece about how they’ve just raised 3 million in venture capital. OK, so I just linked to that article they’re paying people $10 to link to. I thought about claiming the $10 – since (ahem) my research on blog trends would be furthered by seeing whether I actually received the $10 in my Paypal account. So I went to check out how to register a blog so I’d get the booty. Unfortunately, they actually review blogs before they’ll start accepting your for-pay posts. And I dunno – if I were PayPerPost I’m not sure I’d want pesky researchers writing skeptical things about my service. And ugh, now it feels “dirty” to link to that site even without being paid for it. (I put a “nofollow” thing in the link though so at least search engines won’t index it.) The critical TechCrunch story about PayPerPost compares their service to payola A real problem with these services is that they’re advertising concealed as content. Mainstream media long ago set clear boundaries between ads and content. Although clearly those boundaries are blurred quite often when journalists are given freebies and such, the principle remains. Services like Creamaid and PayPerPost require that the post be written in the blogger’s own voice, though. At least Creamaid makes it clear to the reader that this is part of a campaign – as far as I can tell, it’s invisible to the reader that a PayPerPost-sponsored post is in fact sponsored. Some of the “opportunities” specify that they require this invisibility, as in this one from a wedding website – and this is a high-paying one, they pay $8 for each post:

Minimum of PR3 w/ Google. Title needs to include keyword “wedding” or “weddings”. If title, or any part of your site says your reviews are “pay to post” it will not be accepted. Use extra hot links using keywords that lend itself to the topic. Ex: weddings, brides, groom, maid of honor, wedding dress, wedding gown, reception, honeymoon, wedding planning, wedding planner, etc. These links are over and beyond the required link. Must include a recommendation for brides to register at the forums the url link: http://www.weddingstrategies.com/forums/ Will not accept business opportunity blogs. (https://payperpost.com/blogger/opportunity/detail/835)

Technorati shows only four blogs linking to this URL, but they’re all recent links, and while some link to PayPerPost (PPP) in other posts, none of them explicitly admit that their recommendation of the wedding site is paid for. The ones I looked at clearly had a lot of posts that were influenced by PayPerPost earnings. Lynn Terry writes ClickNews!, which is billed as an Internet Marketing blog, and she seems to have one of the most nuanced positive opinions of PayPerPost. She tried out blogging with PayPerPost for a month, wrote a list of the posts she’d written for pay (so disclosure after the fact – not before) and asked readers what they thought about it. A lot of the reactions she received were positive. Here’s another of her posts that gives a good round-up of a lot of discussion on PayPerPost. Lynn Terry isn’t worried about bad uses of PayPerPost, and I agree that she has a point – bloggers who sell their credibility will not have many readers:

While I understand that some bloggers might take the PPP opportunity a little far, and put anything and everything on their blog, those are not the types of bloggers that pull enough weight in the blogosphere to worry about anyway. Those of us who are passionate about our blogs, and love our readers, will pick and choose the opportunities that come through PPP and work it in with integrity.

This ignores the more automated aspects of the web though, such as the increased PageRank that links even from little-read blogs will lead to. Most of the “opportunities” I read about looked a lot like blog spam to me. Ultimately, I don’t want to think that blogs I read are biased because they’re being paid to write about something. If you’re being paid for a post, I’d like to know about it, and that way I’ll read it differently than if I think it’s your own, independent voice. That’s why I’d prefer to keep a line between ads and “editorial content” in blogs.

11 thoughts on “PayPerPost: a sneakier kind of blog advertising

  1. Martin

    Wow. That’s just… Evil.

    I wonder how the people who dream these ideas up sleep at night.

  2. […] A swift video showing a woman’s transformation to divine billboard queen using makeup and Photoshop. I’m definitely showing this video to my daughter. (And yes, it’s for the Dove “real beauty” campaign, which I appreciate although I for some reason have never liked actually using Dove products. (After all my delving into the PayPerPost stuff I’m all super-anxious people will think I’m paid to advertise things or something. Yuck.) (via BoingBoing) Filed under:General — Jill @ 11:59 [ ] […]

  3. Martin

    You should put a nofollow tag on that link.

  4. Jill

    Don’t worry, I already did, Martin 🙂

  5. Martin

    I wonder if they would notice. He he.

  6. torill

    Thought you’d like this story about an attempt at viral marketing being disclosed in Norway: http://www.dagbladet.no/weblogg/blog.php/foxhmslf/post/16308

    For non-norwegians – the blogpost describes how a nickname on a forum is discovered to belong to a representative for the company responsible for marketing PS3 in Norway. The person with the nick claims to be a happy gamer who got a present from the company. The forum administrators reacted to the blogpost by banning that nickname from their site and deleting the posts.

  7. […] And with that, most of my ethical concerns about PayPerPost are laid to rest. Filed under:General — Jill @ 23:56 [ ] […]

  8. Tom Jackson

    I agree that PPP are slightly devious when it comes to their advertising opportunities. I don’t know any other company that ‘direct’ the author as much as they do, and the way they can ask for a positive tone is quite alarming. I’d stick to Blogsvertise – if I don’t like the product or service I’m being asked to write about I just poke fun at it and still get paid!

  9. Melanie Phung

    When I first wrote about PayPerPost, I had the same reaction you did. And the fact is, yeah, on PayPerPost it’s really not likely that someone would write something critical about a company… but not necessarily because the blogger is paid to do it. Even though a PPP advertiser often says you’re allowed to post negatively (and I assume the PPP reviewers would approve it), people aren’t going to do that if they themselves picked the opportunity.

    So I agree with Tom, Blogsvertise is fun because when I’m requested to write a review, I feel perfectly comfortable panning the site. I’ve written some pretty unflattering things, and still gotten paid. I’ve stopped taking Blogsvertise ads though because they frequently have nothing to do with my site, and the fun of laughing at a company that clearly just doesn’t know any better wears thin quickly. On PPP, however, I tend to only review sites I think are worth talking about, which isn’t often but I don’t feel pressure to do a lot of them.

    I just did a long post comparing the different paid blogging services out there today, but from an advertiser’s perspective. I’d be interested in your perspective:
    http://www.all-about-content.com/2007/03/advertisers-perspective-on-blogsvertise.html

    mmp

  10. […] Anyway, the blog, which is apparently one of the most popular in Sweden, is called Blondinbella (blonde bella) and is written by Isabella Lˆwengrip, a seventeen year old high school student who started blogging to recruit members to the political party Moderatarne – but she discovered readers were far more interested in reading about what she was wearing. According to Dagens NĂŠringsliv, the larger part of her income is not from the advertisements from big brandnames, but from covert product placement – she’s paid to write positive reviews about products. And she doesn’t mention this to her readers. That’s not likely to go down too well – remember the debates about PayPerPost that led to their requiring bloggers to disclose that they were being paid? […]

  11. Mar Matthias Darin

    I’ve written about PayPerPost and why it will kill any blog here. PayPerPost is definately something that should be avoided.

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