Pay to Blog what’s the big deal?

I was just over at tech crunch reading some of the broohah about some deal that fell through regarding performancing and payperpost and was kinda surpised at the level of snorting and derision being applied there. There is this guy named Ted, who like most people trying to get things off of the floor in life has managed to obtain $3 million dollars in funding for an idea, which he feels might just fly. So far he has managed to stir up a bit of controversy, with various high profile people like Matt Cutts coming out against the idea in general.

So ok, I can see why a search engine might have an issue with squillions of bloggers being paid to promote and talk about things using keyword rich anchor text to distort the search landscape but thats just tough I guess, they’ll find a way to deal with it, or mightn’t bother even, hardly the end of the world for mfa sites adsense now is it. Besides what with all this talk about mature algos and whatnot, I doubt it’ll make a huge difference anyways, a storm in a teacup even? Perhaps, or maybe some might see it as the thin end of a wedge. The lines get a little blurred when you think ahead and envisage a SERP full of results containing blogs that have been written on the basis of some monetary consideration. In those scenarios, where would the distinction between paid ads and paid ads masquerading as free serps be drawn? Should the search engine be held accountable for its editorial decisions?

Google or any other search engine for that matter  wants their free SERPs to be full of stuff that is diverse and in some cases ‘untainted’ by the dirty grubby mits of commerce. Its probably why we haven’t yet seen paid inclusion rolled out yet,  its full of issues pertaining to disclosure and ads. Y! for example once had a program that enabled you to appear in their results, provided you paid – it was soon dropped amid a wail of criticism.
Washington Post article discussing word-of-mouth-marketing references a petition from Commercial Alert, an advertising and marketing watchdog group based in Portland Oregon and the response from the FTC associate director.

 “The petition to us did raise a question about compliance with the FTC act,” said Mary K. Engle, FTC associate director for advertising practices. “We wanted to make clear . . . if you’re being paid, you should disclose that.”

So ok, no harm done then, if you are going to blog and get paid for your posts then you should disclose that somewhere – isn’t that what tinytext and footers are for :D.

I haven’t looked too intently at either ReviewMe or PayPerPost so have no idea whether or not they enforce disclosure in any toc’s. That said, the FTC is just an American governmental organisation with no jurasdiction or enforcement powers outide of the USA. The web is a big place full of other people from different countries  and nome de plumes, and aliases. Gambling is still alive and kicking on the net even after a ban , some things just can’t be legislated away.

When people like  Guy Kawasaki talk about how he made a paltry $3k adsense revenue from 2,436,117 page views then its hardly surprising when people not half as financially astute   look for better earning opportunities. If you are one of these people who write about stuff daily on a topic close to your heart then goodluck to you if you can earn from it too.

The way I see it is that people will soon see through any posts that extol the virtues of some commercial lot of tosh. Try it yourself – try and get enthused on a daily basis for stuff that you don’t really believe in or want to talk about, see how long it takes people to switch off from what you are saying.

I think thats where reviewme could make a difference. I think they say to the bloggers, “here is so and so a company, they want you to write about them, they’ll pay you too, and you can say what you like as well” wheres the harm?

SE Reps to the back of the room please. 🙂