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  Play-Money Pay for ‘Second Life’ Blog Stringers  
Posted 2005-10-14 by Tony Walsh
Wagner James Au, the official blogger of virtual world Second Life, is looking for stringers to help out while he's authoring a book based on New World Notes, Second Life's official weblog. Au has revealed to that he will be offering Linden Dollars--virtual currency used in Second Life--as payment. Au told that "Depending on length, I'm going to first try out $6,250-12,500 [Linden dollars] as a pay range—$25-50, at current market rates. It's not much, I know, but this is really just an experiment at this point. If it's successful, I'll certainly ask Linden Lab to boost my editorial budget."

Linden Lab (Second Life's developer) pays Au real-world dollars. The company's usual editorial budget, in other words, isn't comprised of virtual currency. Whoever ends up doing Au's job might be sitting pretty if they're of comparable quality--the "steal your job" kind of pretty. Why pay a writer real money when you can pay one in your endless supply of play-money? Why pay for anything in real money if you don't have to?
  The Increasing Suckitude of Blog Empires  
Posted 2005-09-12 by Tony Walsh
Weblogs, Inc. and Gawker Media each own a stable of popular weblogs used as a venue for advertisements. Over the last few weeks, I've noticed several of these blogs have begun their journey down the road of Extreme Suckitude. What I am seeing is a departure from already-borderline blogging and a slip into flogging: Roundup posts regurgitate a week's worth of material; posts that thank sponsors; cross-promotion links to blogs under the same publishing imprint. It's the inevitable slip into content without substance. Perhaps this is an experiment to see how many readers will drop off. It's definitely a lesson in how not to run a blog empire.
  Blog Marketing Strategies Deconstructed  
Posted 2005-05-12 by Tony Walsh
I wouldn't use ClickZ as my personal punching bag if they didn't keep begging for it. Today's "actionable analysis" pertains to "Blog Marketing Strategies (and How to Measure Them)." Author Heidi Cohen seems to borrow liberally from related articles, notably Robin Good's "How To Measure A Blogger's Popularity And Reach: The Big Jump" (commented on here) and Seth Godin's recent post "What Every Good Marketer Knows."

Cohen's main piece of advice is for marketers to monitor the blogosphere for references to their clients, and then attempt to steer the conversation in a favourable direction: "Read blogs related to your product or company to understand the blogger's perspective and audience. Strategically respond to postings to initiate dialogue. More genuine that [sic] a PR pitch, this approach can also help correct misinformation." I'm not sure a strategic response is the same thing as a genuine response.

Continue reading: Blog Marketing Strategies Deconstructed
  Paid Bloggers Annoy  
Posted 2005-04-13 by Tony Walsh
Mark Glaser reveals to OJR readers how and the Gawker Media family of sites tie bonuses to traffic growth. You might think a writer who was paid based on popularity might take any measures necessary to become more popular. And you'd be right. Ever since Brian Crecente took the helm of Gawker adverblog Kotaku, he's been spamming fan-run game news site Evil Avatar with links to Kotaku articles. Crecente went from "one of us" to an annoyance for the love of money.

From the Evil Avatar forums: "Kotaku for example will probably never get front page material again. The editor of that site would blatantly pimp is [sic] stuff in every thread possible...or try to use 'sexy' tags to bring in traffic (see the psp licking crap)."

Given money as the motivating factor for composing stories, one has to wonder if there is editorial value to Kotaku, let alone any Gawker site.
  Blogvertising All Wrong  
Posted 2005-02-15 by Tony Walsh
ClickZ contributor Hollis Thomases attempts to explain why blog advertising is right for you. Except that she paints too rosy a picture. But hey, if you want to live in a hype-bubble, be my guest. I think we all know how that worked out back in the 90s.

Thomases writes: "Blogs ads work because blogs serve as watering holes for niche influencers and opinion-makers whose loyal and impassioned readers are also smart, savvy consumers."

Except that all blogs are not created equal. Worse still, there are few, if any, accurate standards for measuring a blog's actual impact. Thomases adds that "...some blogs are read heavily by white collars at work, government politicos, and, especially, the mainstream media" but fails to mention which blogs those are, or how one would determine readership demographics for a given blog. That's because doing so is nigh-impossible.

Later on, Thomases squeezes out this little nugget of wisdom: "The best blog ad looks like actual blog content."

Just like pop-up ads masquerading as Windows error-messages are the best? Just like Flash ads dressed as Web games are the best? Apparently, "best" in marketing-land means the best at tricking an audience into a click-through. If you have to trick someone into clicking your ad, how good can your product possibly be?
  Blogging Asbestos  
Posted 2005-02-11 by Tony Walsh
Oh, the hypocrisy. How could I be against adverblogging, but for Michael Buffington's Asbestos-blog cash-grab? Easy. Buffington isn't selling anything. He's discovered "asbestos" is a hot topic that demands high Google AdSense prices. So his Asbestos News blog, which contains information about asbestos, is taking full advantage of search-engine-driven traffic. Buffington's source for asbestos news is the Google Alert system. Clever, if not mundane.

Buffington's blog clearly separates advertisement from content, even if the content is merely intended to drive the advertisements. Because the blog is an information resource, it's making a genuine offering to the public despite the motives. This differs from adverblogging in that "sponsored" bloggers, despite what they insist, are bought for their opinions. Buffington isn't selling asbestos, so his opinion about it is irrelevant.
  Why Advertising, Marketing and PR Pros Shouldn’t Blog  
Posted 2005-01-14 by Tony Walsh
I recently read an article entitled "Why advertising, marketing and PR pros should blog." The article, written by a marketer for marketers, seemed to be somewhat delusional. I offer a counterpoint, appropriating the style and format of the article to suit my own cruel whims.

Why Advertising, Marketing and PR Pros Shouldn't Blog

Blogs are an inexpensive, convenient and enjoyable form of media, traditionally authored by individuals for non-commercial purposes. Last year, blogs received an unprecedented level of mainstream attention due to their influence and novelty. The PR and marketing industries naturally want a piece of the action, but should blogs be a part of every business plan in 2005?

Continue reading: Why Advertising, Marketing and PR Pros Shouldn’t Blog
  Deconstructing Marqui’s Adverblogging Antics  
Posted 2004-12-10 by Tony Walsh
I'm not saying Marqui, a Canadian firm forking over for paid mentions on certain weblogs, is a big fat liar. I'm not saying adverbloggers working for Marqui are a bunch of two-bit whores. I'm not saying either of those things because they are probably not exactly true. My relationship with you, dear reader, is based on trust and transparency. If other websites were so trustworthy and transparent, the internet would be made of billions of Casper the Friendly Ghosts.

I've been keeping an eye on Marqui recently because... well, frankly the firm's adverblogging scheme simultaneously amuses and irritates me. It amuses me because, despite the thick fog of marketing hype veiling its site, it is nothing more than an inexpertly-executed astroturfing campaign. It irritates me because all bloggers--paid for or not--now have their credibility under the microscope. One bad apple ruining the bunch, and all that.

Today I discovered that the situation is actually worse than I originally thought.

Continue reading: Deconstructing Marqui’s Adverblogging Antics
  Milking the Adverblogging Udder  
Posted 2004-12-09 by Tony Walsh
Marqui's recent publicity stunt seems to be drawing just the attention they were looking for. The online communications company provoked controversy recently by buying mentions on a handful of weblogs. Marqui's old paid-blogger page has been removed, and in its place is a refined spin on adverblogging.

Marqui's so-called "Controversy Page" contains blog entries written nearly entirely by paid bloggers, obviously covering one side of the story: The paid side. Numerous web pages sprinkled with paid Marqui references has resulted in fertile territory for Google spiders, so it's not surprising Marqui received 244,000 Google hits in one week. Any idiot can generate Google traffic with the right publicity stunt.

Marqui's move (along with the Gawker empire and other adverblogging schemes) is dragging the oft-assailed integrity of bloggers even further down. Bearing this in mind, I'll soon be posting some kind of disclosure statement here on Clickable Culture. Shocker: I don't get paid to blog.
  Paid Bloggers Light Up Marqui  
Posted 2004-11-25 by Tony Walsh
When is an ad not an ad? When it's product-placement, according to Canadian communications company Marqui. The firm is paying select bloggers a minimum of $800 monthly for a weekly mention and logo placement: "...we're going to sign three-month contracts with them to blog, no matter what they say about our system -- although we hope they'll love it."

Marqui is of course aware that advertorial content in the blogosphere is controversial, and that controversy attracts attention. They've included a "Rants and Raves" section on their Blogosphere page. Currently there is only one rant and no raving, unless you count that the "rant" is in fact a "rave" in disguise. Congrats on an asinine plan, Marqui. I hope alienating bloggers works out real well for you.
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