Pete Wright of PayPerPost tries to defend the covert and deceptive marketing platform he is building at PayPerPost on his blog. I respond in his comments, but also wanted to post my thoughts here as well.
So folks ask me why I care and why I take such offense to people doing covert and deceptive marketing on blogs. There are a couple of reasons:
1. I love the blogosphere and everything it stands for. I love, love, love the transparency, authenticity, honesty, and passion found on blogs. It’s unique in the media landscape, and as someone who’s fallen in love with it and helped it grow, I feel the need to defend it from the forces of evil.
2. You have to stop cancer quickly or it spreads. Too many smart folks I know look at things like PayPerPost and say to me “oh, those losers are never going to get anywhere… why waste your time.” A couple of folks I know are not going to blog about it because they are friendly with the VCs and don’t want to ruin their relationships. Well, PayPerPost has raised millions of dollars from a very big name: Tim Draper. That validates them big time. They can walk into advertising agencies and brand managers offices based on Tim’s name. Now, I think most marketers will laugh them right out of town, but if no one speaks up and Tim’s voting for this service with his very large checkbook then these guys might get some traction. They get traction WITH THEIR CURRENT MODEL and they undermine the blogsophere. (NOTE: I’m hoping they take a stand against covert marketing and change their current “market forces” excuse).
I have to ask Tim Draper: how can you endorse deceptive marketing? This isn’t the TD I know… I know you’re “just and investor” and it’s “the entrepreneur’s company” (and all those other lame VC excuses), but you gotta step up to the plate and tell us if you condone deceptive marketing. Do you?!?!
Side Note: I’d really love to hear what smart folks like Seth Godin, Fred Wilson, Adam Curry, Mark Cuban, Esther Dyson, John Battelle, Cory Doctorow, Xeni Jardin, Rafat Ali, Joseph Jaffe, Brian Alvey, Kevin Rose, Tim O’Reilly, Doc Searls, Jeff Jarvis, Steve Rubel, Dan Gillmor, and Nick Denton think of covert marketing coming to the blogosphere. Heck, I’d even love to hear what Valleywag has to say!
Some quick corrections to your post.
You say: “If you go to Jason’s site, you’ll find, as I just did, that he ‘recommends’ no less than 10 products/companies on the side bar of his blog.”
My response: I get paid NOTHING for those recommendations. I do them to share with my questions, comments, and concerns with my friends.
There is nothing COVERT about what I’m doing there. What PayPerPost does is enable folks to get paid for doing COVERT marketing.
No one likes to be tricked or deceived–do you?
You said: That’s including the ‘powered by’ link, and not including the HUGE props to Netscape Video, which of course he has a financial interest in.
My response: The syndicated headlines from Netscape are voted up by users. That has nothing to do with the issue at hand. There is nothing DECEPTIVE about linking to the top 10 headlines on digg, NYTimes, Engadget, Boingboing, etc.
You said: Now, as for having ‘nothing to gain’ by going after PayPerPost, just wander over to Weblogs Inc and click on Marketers More Info. Now Weblogs Inc…
My response: I just looked at the sad, sad advertisers using PayPerPost. We don’t sell ads to losers like this. We sell ads to the top 100 advertisers on the Internet. PayPerPosts link farm and covert marketing tools will NEVER put a dent into high-end display advertising. Advertisers like Apple, Microsoft, etc. are not so desperate that they have to pay for people to blog about them-far from it in fact. As far as I’m concerned PayPerPost can keep their loser advertising base. I don’t want to-and would never–work with that level of covert marketer.
You said: WebLogs Inc markets products through blogs, so does PayPerPost. Difference? We’re cheaper.
My response: No, the difference is that we don’t allow deceptive advertising and you do.
All advertisement are clearly labeled as advertisements on our blogs. PayPerPost on the other hand creates the marketplace that allows people to get paid for DECEIVING their audience.
No one likes to be deceived–do you?
You said: We’re a marketplace – we put advertisers in touch with bloggers. How is that deceptive?
My response: It is deceptive because you don’t have any controls in your marketplace to fight deception. Google forces advertisers to carry the “Ads by Google” line for a reason. The NYTimes, Boingboing, Federated Media, Gawker, and WeblogsInc (and just about anyone with any level of integrity in this business) put systems in place to prevent COVERT and DECEPTIVE marketing. We ban advertisers who do bad things-not enable and profit from them like PayPerPost does.
You guys are making a choice to allow covert marketing. You could say on the site today that:
a) all paid posts must start with a note explaining that they are paid
b) be transparent on your site about the bloggers, blogs, blog posts, advertisers, and ad campaigns that are involved.
You are not doing this because we both know that you would have no advertisers left if you did.
The bottom line is that people chose their lot in life. You guys have taken the low road and you are falling back on the very lame excuse of “market forces” to determine your ethics.
You guys know in your hearts that deceptive marketing is, in fact, evil. I know there is some god in you–I can sense it. Take the high road. Sure, it’s not as easy to be one of the good guys, but you will sleep better at night and you will get much further.
Ten years from now do you want to be remembered as the place were covert marketers got their claws into the blogosphere and undermined the integrity of good bloggers everywhere? Well, in the .0001% chance you succeed at what you’re doing that will be the result-people will lose their faith in blogs. We spent years creating the blogosphere and educating the market of the value blogs-I’m not going to let you walk in here and destroy years of work.
You guys need to take a company retreat and think about what you want to be in life: evil, covert marketers or innovative participants in the blogosphere.
Right now you’re a cancer.