Pay Per Post Model Moves To Twitter

from the things-that-shouldn't-surprise-you dept

The Federal Trade Commission recently said it was looking into how it could require disclosure when bloggers are being paid to write about a product, the latest move in a long-running flap over the potential abuse of word-of-mouth marketing. A big driver behind this flap was the emergence a few years ago of a company called PayPerPost, which (as its name indicates) paid bloggers to write nice things about its customers' products. PayPerPost raised a lot of questions about deceptive advertising, in particular, who should be held responsible for it: the blogger or the company paying the blogger. As Mike noted at the time, focusing on one platform misses the larger point that deceptive advertising is deceptive advertising, regardless of where it appears. With that in mind, it shouldn't be at all surprising to see the company behind PayPerPost -- which has since changed its name to Izea -- is now paying folks to post its customers' messages to their Twitter account. Seeing as how Twitter only allows messages of 140 characters or less, there's not a lot of room for disclosure there. These sorts of efforts will continue to spread to new platforms as they emerge, particularly when they grab new users in the way Twitter has. Perhaps the only saving grace is that as these shady marketing efforts grow, people will become more and more skeptical about product recommendations from untrusted sources online, undermining the value of paid placements for companies. This sort of microshilling doesn't seem like it will have a long shelf life -- especially if the FTC decides to get involved.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2009 @ 5:00pm

    "Perhaps the only saving grace is that as these shady marketing efforts grow, people will become more and more skeptical about product recommendations from untrusted sources online, undermining the value of paid placements for companies."

    I think most people are already (and have always been) skeptical of product recommendations from unknown sources. People aren't stupid, they know to take into account the possibility that someone is getting paid (or somehow benefiting) to recommend something.

     

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  2.  
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    Paul Brinker (profile), Jun 9th, 2009 @ 5:46pm

    I dont trust reviews in general, after we saw a few events over at gamestop where a reviewer told the truth then got fired it got really stupid.

    Things like metacritic are also gamed to the point if its not a blizzard game its not worth reading the reviews.

    Best way to go is sneeker net, generaly that works a lot better.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Just another problem of the twitter business model

     

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  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 9th, 2009 @ 6:15pm

    Easy Peasy

    Just use a hashtag, e.g. #PPP

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 9th, 2009 @ 6:18pm

    Whatcha gonna do?

    How on earth could this type of thing be effectively regulated. If it is illegal in the US, people will just open shop in India or somewhere that it is not illegal.

    If a major company engages in the practice it will eventually come to light and be an embarrassment. Small companies will probably be the ones who try it. If they have a bad product, then they are going to have a lot more unsatisfied customers than they can afford to pay, so they will lose, too.

    A lot of young people have grown up online. My kids seem to have a sixth sense, and they notice things before I do. This kind of thing might work for a while, but I think it is probably not going to be a long-term problem.

     

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  6.  
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    Daniel Goodwin, Jun 9th, 2009 @ 7:32pm

    Re: Easy Peasy

    The hashtag will be #spon, which is not specific to our company. That lends it to become an industry wide standard that similar services can implement.

     

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  7.  
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    Mark Pannell, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 4:24am

    Disclosure Legislation, etc.

    Let's be honest. How many people can't see through the syrupy sweet content of amateurish PPP blog posts and/or tweets? This type of practice will always exist in one way or another. Disclosure legislation just keeps the honest people honest. The respected bloggers who author PPP content have been honest about it anyhow. Does that make people like Steve Hall less credible? I don't think so. But I also don't rush out and buy every product he mentions either. And as far as Twitter is concerned, it takes more than 140 characters to influence my buying decisions.

     

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  8.  
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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jun 10th, 2009 @ 4:46am

    I think that here the FTC is not wrongly focusing on the tech. Unlike in traditional media advertising, pay per post is decentralized and the people who do it do not have big legal departments to advise them. Holding bloggers by the same rules as the traditional media is unreasonable.

     

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  9.  
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    Wolfy, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 5:04am

    To poster #1 who said "People aren't stupid"... I hate to break it to you, but, people ARE stupid. What's worse, is the trend is we are getting more stupid as time goes on. I point to the rise in religion in the U.S. and the corresponding drop in the number of people who believe in evolution. I am terribly sorry to say I rest my case.

     

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  10.  
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    Err, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 7:44am

    So the only people who will ever see these sponsored tweets will be the Izea members who have already followed each other to build up their respective following. Advertising inside an echo chamber, awesome!

     

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  11.  
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    Jason, Jun 10th, 2009 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    Anyone else think that we need a separate comments section for the bumper-sticker crowd??

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Pete Wright, Jun 14th, 2009 @ 4:07pm

    Re:

    Honestly Err that's actually pretty much the same way the existing PPP and SocialSpark apps work too. This just extends the echo chamber onto Twitter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    B. Jewel, Jul 5th, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Re:

    People are not stupid just deceived until they discover the truth. Deceived would be to believe in the big bang theory and that mankind evolved from a ape or monkey. I rather believe anything except that. I stumbled across this site looking for any negative information concerning pay per post before I got involed. It sounded like a perfect way to add a little extra cash to the household finances. I had no clue deception was involved. My hat is off to the creater of Tech Dirt. I am postive this site is not the result of a big bang THEORY but an actual smart created person.

     

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