Mike Arrington on TechCrunch did an interesting thing a few days ago, he asked their readers if they should accept advertising from PayPerPost/Izea. Their readers made the right decision and voted that it would be disingenuous to accept advertising from a company that, in Michael’s words, pollutes the blogosphere. He also notes that TechCrunch is being held to a higher standard than most mainstream media would:
The comments that are most interesting to me are the ones that say we’re selling out if we take their advertising. I understand that we are held to a certain standard (and we hold ourselves to that standard), but it’s interesting that we supposed to do things that would never be asked of MSM.
While I’m sure there’s mainstream media which turn away advertisers because of social reasons, the point that we should hold flagship blogs to high standards is a good one.
On that point, I would encourage the crew at TechCrunch to re-examine their advertising and implicit endorsement of Text Link Ads, which pollutes the blogosphere in the same way PayPerPost does, by selling links with the intention of gaming Google. Just as PayPerPost “posties” were recently penalized by Google and Pagerank was one of the criteria that advertisers looked for when choosing which bloggers to give money to, Text Link Ads has been doing the same thing for years, they’ve just been more explicit about it. (And their corporate site has been penalized in Google for a long time.)
I should also note that if TechCrunch decides that the same reasons it decided to not accept advertising from Izea also apply to Text Link Ads, it’ll be operating at a higher standard than Google itself, who even though its business is directly impacted by the search engine spamming both of these companies practice allows both TLA and PPP to advertise via Adwords and Adsense.
“Let’s face it, we’re selling links here. Call it ‘buzz’ all you want, but it boils down to selling links. That skews Google’s index and they’ve come out against that quite publicly. If we’re all given the freedom to disclose in our own manner, we’re a moving target. If we’ve all got disclosure badges everywhere, it’s easy for them to penalize/ban us all.”
The comments on this PayPerPost blog encouraging disclosure are interesting, it seems even their own users recognize that they’re doing something Google should/will penalize.
Perhaps rather than trying to find better ways to hide from Google, they should just stop the questionable behaviour in the first place. This is one of the reasons we took an early stance by banning PPP on WordPress.com, and other blog hosts should do the same.
PayPerPost, a company I still consider highly distasteful (when you’re forced to change a core aspect of your business because of the FTC, that’s a bad thing) has bought Performancing Metrics. On the bright side, Performancing’s ad and Firefox products were not part of the deal.
So I signed up for PayPerPost is Toni’s foray into the seedy side of paid blogging. Includes some interesting comments, including an ultra-defensive thread from one of their investors. I also came across a ton of creepy videos on Youtube, a lovefest for PayPerPost and apparently those are $10 a pop. There is a firm that does something similar in real life, Buzz agents or something, but they’re actually fairly respectable simply because they require one thing: the agents to say that they’re being paid. End of story. I have no problem with bloggers making money, but that info out there and let people make up their own mind.
Another way to think about it: If PayPerPost was PayPerComment instead, and they paid people to leave comments shilling various products or services, what would you call it? What if they paid people to email their friends about something without disclosure? Would someone start an anti-PayPerPost Akismet, or a Firefox extension to detect and highlight people using them?