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:
- 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.
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?
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…|
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?
There are always those bloggers that will not handle this correctly and there will also be readers that will never be happy with anything that has a dollar sign ($) associated with it, but I agree with you that most people will tend to take this on a review-by-review basis.
As long as the posts are handled with integrity and disclosure, they will be considered value-added content, which is what drives most readers to visit a blog in the first place.
Great site! I have been reading for a while.
I have to disagree. I think most of your content is influenced by your wallet already. Sure, blogging helps the soul purge, but it also brings in clients. It is an advertising mechanism for yourself. I believe if you examined your motives for this site, you would find that you crossed the line a long time ago. I don’t see evil in this post at all.
The paid for reviews have been around for a while. epinion.com pays reviewers to write a review on their site. I don’t think getting paid for putting your voice behind or against a product is a bad thing, as long as you truely believe what you are writing.
ReviewMe has the right model for this form of advertising to actually work. It gives the reviewers the freedom to actually express their opinion which will bring out the truth about the product. If you have passionate feelings for a product in either direction, you will be able to write a review that will provide positive information for someone, it just may not be the producer of the product. I actually hope that this new form of advertising speeds the Darwinian ways of capitalism and forces bad products out and good products up.
If you decide that you want to continue to make revenue off of reviews but you still feel icky about getting paid for it you could separate your RSS feeds. One feed for your typical content and another dedicated to reviews. I would subscribe to both because I value your opinion whether you are getting paid for it or not.
Thanks again for a terrific site.
“EVIL or NOT?”
A hammer is neither good nor bad. It is a tool. You can build homes with it or bash skulls. The same here.
People can abuse this, write reviews with the intent of writing positive reviews so that they can continue receiving stuff to review. Or they can be honest. Review things with the traditional heart of a blogger.
Personally I prefer the latter.
Something a lot of bloggers are wrestling with right now, myself included, and your “Disclosure” statement sums it up quite nicely. While I did register with ReviewMe, I’m concerned about whether readers would make a distinction between these paid reviews and the recent flurry of PPP sites which do not require any kind of disclosure, just want the link posted with the required wording. It seems to me that there’s a clear difference between the two, but it will be interesting to see how it shakes out – whether blog readers will still respect a RevMe blogger in the morning.
I like the balanced approach you’ve taken on sponsored posts. When I was researching my investment in PayPerPost by talking to PPP adopters and bloggers generally I heard the same discussion—leading me to appreciate it’s not a black & white issue.
This balance between blogger, marketer and audience expectations led me to champion a Disclosure Policy framework via DisclosurePolicy.org. Given the diversity of authors, audiences and consumer generated media, I believe there will not be a single answer that works for everyone; but there could be a common transparency framework to build from so audiences can always find/click a “Disclosure Policy” link to understand the affiliations and policies of the blogger they are reading. It all starts with knowing/finding the policies of the blogger/vlogger/podcaster you visit—something MSM cannot match.
I don’t have a budget to pay you, but would you consider reviewing DisclosurePolicy.org, trying the DP Generator (then editing that draft for your own needs), posting/linking to your Disclosure Policy in your template and sharing ways to improve the DP framework? The site even has forums where you could share transparency best practices so future visitors can learn from your experience. All thoughts appreciated…
Seems like everyone is running in circles around the wrong issue here. I think ReviewMe policies cover the “content indepence” of your posts.
Look a it this way: for 20 to 120 bucks, advertisers get to ask you a question. If you answer it on your blog, they pay, if not, the world keeps turning.
PS: I find DP Dan’s push of the disclosure policy site spammy.
Interesting observation. I believe my motivations for the site are as follows:
<li>Find my authentic self, and express that as clearly as I can. My expectation from this is that I hope other people will find it interesting and useful.</li>
<li>Increase my social surface area so I can meet people that I like, and who like me because of what I’m doing in 1.</li>
<li>Develop a platform from which I can develop a self-sustaining business that’s based on the values I expressed in 1 and 2.</li>
The ReviewMe review is the first thing I’ve done related to my site, other than AdSense, to make some money from my site. Still getting used to it apparently :-)