Review: ReviewMe

There’s been a small explosion of writeups for the new review placement service ReviewMe. The reason? ReviewMe is another way that bloggers might get some money for their hard work. The idea is pretty simple: write reviews for cash.

The Chain of Reasoning

The reasoning goes something like this:

  1. Blogs have become a credible way of building buzz and interest in a product or service. It’s become a marketing channel in its own right.

  2. Unfortunately for advertisers who would like to exploit this channel, it’s comprised of many tens of thousands of independent bloggers. How do you reach them effectively? How do you convince them to talk about your product? And which ones do you talk to?

  3. Enter ReviewMe. They are a matchmaker between bloggers and advertiser. Bloggers are ranked by combining Alexa, Technorati, and estimated RSS readership. Advertisers choose blogs they’d like to review their product. ReviewMe passes the request to the blog owner, who chooses to accept or not. Upon completion of the review, the advertiser pays out cash, which is split 50/50 between ReviewMe and the blogger.

<

p>The amount of the payout ranges from There are currently 5 ranks, from one star to five stars, and the payouts look like this:

stars advertiser pays… blogger gets…
1 $40.00 $20.00
2 $60.00 $30.00
3 $100.00 $50.00
4 $250.00 $125.00
5 ? ?

I haven’t actually seen a 5-star site listed yet. I would assume that the payout curve resembles the long tail. UPDATE: Here’s a nice explanation of the Long Tail on…Alexa!

But is it Evil?

The idea of “buying reviews” has the smack of something that could be abused, but the ground rules established up front is that ReviewMe does not require positive reviews. If ReviewMe maintains a list of reviews that a blogger has written, maybe that would have an effect on what people write, but this is the same issue anybody with the editorial / advertising mix has to face. Time will tell.

ReviewMe also has some other mandatory requirements for a “hosted review”. The review must be at least 200 words long, but can be written in any way the blogger desires. Additionally, disclosure is required to the blogger’s audience. Since the power of the blogosphere is based on authentic voices, this makes perfect sense to me.

I signed up for it a few days ago, and this post is indeed a paid review. I have some mixed feelings about doing this. On the one hand, it does seem like a possible way of generating some income in a way that is less gauche than AdSense adblocks. On the other hand, it does start to blur the line between “authentic content from the heart” and “content influenced by the wallet”. Writing about ReviewMe itself is fine, because I think it’s an interesting model that puts some revenue earning potential directly into the hands of content creators. Yeah! I’m not sure how I would feel, though, writing a review on something I was less passionate about. If I can maintain my personal sense of authenticity, that’s great. But I may lose authenticity in the eyes of the audience, and by extension citizen journalism may be perceived as just another branch of the marketing channel that’s for sale at the right price. I think people will take it on a review-by-review basis; a good review stands on its own, and I would hate for people to become even MORE cynical about the media they consume.

DISCLOSURE: I’m writing about ReviewMe because I have been paid to think about it and put some words down. While I believe my words are my own and are just as authentic as if I had thought to review ReviewMe by myself, there is nevertheless the smell of crisp dollar bills in the air as I write this. Let me know what you think: EVIL or NOT?