Pray per post

Last night, I moderated a panel on buzz and marketing at the Always On conference in New York and I started it off by slamming Pay Per Post, the infamous service that pays bloggers to write positive posts about products, and a presentation by the company’s president, Ted Murphy.

Murphy showed a video a mom created for Pay Per Post, showing her little kids smashing a camera with a hammer because it wasn’t an HP. I was appalled (so was David Weinberger). So they have created something that entices mothers to exploit their own children as cheap shills. For shame.

The discussion went on with the panelists — including an advertising and a PR exec — agreeing that you can’t buy buzz.

At the end, who should stick up his hand but Murphy. He said that Pay Per Post is transparent about its posts being bought; I said that this was damned recent and only after much pressure. He also said that he saw no difference in Amanda Congdon making commercials on her old or new vlog and a Pay Per Post person making a commercial on her blog. Fair point. But one of the panelists said that Rocketboom is clearly a show and a commercial makes sense in that context; the relationship is clearer. David Weinberger said that marketers and the public have been at war for a century and the internet and blogs were to be his refuge from that: a place to have conversations with friends. I asked whether Weinberger, who takes no ads, hates me for doing so. He said, no, because the relationship is, again, clear: It’s about someone buying space on my page, not about buying my endorsement. He called Pay Per Post “corrosive” to the conversation. Pressed again on the demarcation, I brought up the rules I was taught as a journalist (emphasizing strongly that I was not trying to call all blog talk journalism or to hold it all to the same structure and rules): Simply put, the rule is that no one can buy my voice and with it my credibility.

The conference was a bit disorganized and our panel, the last of the day, got on late after confusion on the schedule about the session. They tried to cut us off on time but the room and I revolted and we kept going; the discussion was rousing and fun.

After it was all over, I saw a camera guy — with good HDTV rig and steadicam, even — who had been shooting the session. I thought he was Always On’s guy. But at the elevator bank, the camera was still following Murphy. ‘What, you have a reality show?’ I joked. No joke. They do. They call it Rock Startup and try to make themselves into rock stars (Murphy is “The Murphman“) and even say they’re trying to sell it to a network — though, of course, it’s really just a commercial. Here’s an episode about their brashly painted, branded monster truck and how they’re going to promote by taking a couple of “smokin’ ” promo “girls” to bars. The hubris of this organization is astounding.

I asked Murphy whether he had seen Startup, the movie about the hubristic and failed startup GovWorks. No, he’d never heard of it. I suggested that he get the DVD. When I met with GovWorks in the bubble, I refused to allow them to tape it. Well, now perhaps I’ll end up in the sequel.

  • Michael Kelly

    “So they have created something that entices mothers to exploit their own children as cheap shills. ”

    Sorry, but this has been going on for a lot longer than the ‘net. Ever hear of Stage Moms? (I completely agree that it’s a disgrace, but they’re nowhere near the first.)

  • http://www.paymetoblogaboutyou.com Cory

    Jeff- I beg to differ with your self righteous view of how bloggers should not accept money to create buzz.

    1- Has it occurred to you that a blogger can help create buzz without giving an endorsement or selling their soul? They can make a neutral and informational statement and provide a link for those interested in evaluating a potential product or service or press release. Of those interested that go to the link, perhaps one of them will become a passionate influencer.
    2- A blog is an intellectual asset. It is certainly a bloggers right to generate an income from the readership they have created from their talent.
    3- Yes there are unethical ways of advertising, but does that make the concept of accepting money to create exposure categorically bad?
    4- It is wonderful you have no need or desire to generate advertising from your blog but don’t try to create everyone else in your own image…

  • http://www.vergenewmedia.com Jim Long

    it reminds me of agency.com’s “viral” video of they Subway account pitch. You know the one: “when we roll…we roll big!” yeah what-EVER! Pretty weak and pretty smarmy.

  • http://www.genkidesuyo.blogspot.com Robyn

    Wow—–THIS IS FABULOUS!!! That mom pimping out her kids for — what did you call it — “cheap shills” — That was me! That is so great that it got some great exposure! We had a TON of fun making it! It was to win the big ‘ol camera prize –but it couldn’t–you see–I’d already won the whole camera package by being involved in Postie Patrol 3! So really, I made the video-after I’d already won a camera–and not really eligible for another “cheap shill” as you would call it! But thanks for letting me know my video was seen by so many! I’ll have to let my boys know that they are famous!!! Sha—-Weet!!!

  • http://www.genkidesuyo.blogspot.com Robyn

    I’m sorry-I should have put the link to the video of my boys smashing the camera in case any of your readers wanted to be as “incensed” as you and David Weinberger were!! It’s found here:

    http://genkidesuyo.blogspot.com/2006/12/digital-camera-dream.html

    And if you’d like to watch the video of me winning my “cheap shill” camera package–you can watch that here: (Beware–my kids are in this video at the beginning too–so if it will offend—look away!!!)

    http://genkidesuyo.blogspot.com/2006/12/postie-patrol.html

    Thanks again! I LOVE this post!!

  • Pingback: Should Bloggers Create Commercial Content? at The Blog Herald

  • Andrew

    It’s about time people started shedding light on Ted Murphy’s malleable “ethics”. Though his businesses change and his revenue streams come and go there is one consistent theme – exploitation.

    Ok, two: exploitation and deceit.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Ted would invent a company designed to hide the corrupting influence of money behind a veneer of sincerity in an attempt to take advantage of people. And then drive around in a giant SUV with a cameraman filming it. And wear funny things on his head. Ted is nothing if not a clown.

  • http://andybeard.eu/ Andy Beard

    There is a large company that has affiliate referral units which you are allowed to encourage people to click on and download software – for each download you get paid, thus a CPA.

    At the same time they expressly forbid you to suggest that clicking and downloading the software might help you financially, maybe to pay your serve fees etc.

    If the PPP disclosure situation is so bad, then maybe this other company’s policy also comes into question.

    Maybe they just need a clarification in their policies… again

    I wrote about it here, I think I am the only one that noticed
    http://andybeard.eu/2007/01/google-requiring-affiliates-not-to-declare-ftc-womma.html

    It should be noted that PPP did encourage disclosure before they made it mandatory, they also created DisclosurePolicy.org, and most A-List bloggers don’t have a disclosure policy.

    Many don’t include disclosure within the content they syndicate. Then again there are also lawyers who don’t disclosed that their content is not legal advise, or doctors with medical advice, within the content.

    People even pointed out that the recent FTC paper was aimed at PPP, but it has a further reaching affect on all forms of affiliate marketing, and that was confirmed by many lawyers… yet most affiliate who practice WOMM do not use a disclosure policy – those that do got it free from DisclosurePolicy.org

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work Mathew Ingram

    I just want to say that my favourite part of this post are Robyn’s comments.

  • Pingback: Why Must We Confuse Technology With Media? | Paul Colligan’s Profitable Podcasting

  • Pingback: Ted Murphy vs Jeff Jarvis · Emporium Blog

  • http://http//www.5xmom.com lilian

    Andy Beard got valid points.

    BuzzMachine – you are just another spoilt brat throwing tantrums.

  • http://www.robhyndman.com Rob Hyndman

    I just want to say that my favourite part of this post is Mathew’s comment.

  • http://www.webomatica.com/wordpress/ Webomatica

    Well, the more cynical side of me notes that pretty much every aspect of modern life is infiltrated with advertising. Even in the grocery store there are now ads on the floors and shopping carts.

    So while blogging (and even the interent) may have started out as something more pure, it was only because of the people that were initially attracted. As soon as the mainstream masses audience come, money and ads follows.

    There will still be a place for folks who want to be above commercial influences, just as there are writers who write novels in this day and age, there are others who write trashy romance novels because that’s what sells. This divergence of reasons and purposes for blogging just show the media is maturing. There’s room for all – and ultimately it just comes down to what you want to be known for and what you get out your endeavors.

  • Pingback: WinExtra » Bloggers: Hypocrisy of ethics

  • Pingback: Dan Blank: Publishing, Innovation and the Web » Blog Archive » Where Editorial, Marketing and Advertising Meet

  • http://logxtech.com/bio.html Ken Berger

    I was in attendance and was the guy who yelled, “Bring him up on stage!” (about Murphy).

    Sure, the idea seems so despicable, so Payola and all that. Yet, what was amazing is that it was tough for me to hate Murphy. He had fairly consistent, cogent arguments, did not appear to be at all psycho or hubris-filled. Nothing like Khaleil from Startups.com. He was more like a really good asbestos defense attorney, but beyond that. I really did want him brought on stage– the sub-topic resulted in the “best panel of the day”, according to one participant.

  • Pingback: PayPerPost: a Web 2.0 witch-hunt » Mathew Ingram: mathewingram.com/work

  • Pingback: Every Day Is A PayPerPost Day | The Last Podcast

  • Pingback: Naked | twopointouch: web 2.0, blogs and social media

  • Pingback: sitetricks.com » Blog Archive » Pay Per Post Calls Itself a Rockstar Startup

  • Pingback: RockStartup.com: Blogging For Dollars » Webomatica

  • Pingback: links for 2007-02-02 at Baron VC

  • Pingback: When Knights of the Realm Climb on Their High Horses » odd time signatures

  • http://www.centernetworks.com/alwayson-ceo-showcase-i Allen Stern

    I posted event coverage (click my name) at CN. Basically the CEO demo of PPP was interesting at best… comments:

    1. his silly animation effects on the ppt limited his time to talk (maybe that was on purpose!)
    2. the online chat was great during his presentation – people were bashing him, I was asking questions about what he was saying.
    3. he never really explained how negative reviews will make sure you get no further work. Sure he will tell you on the side that negative is ok, but in all honestly no large company will pick your blog if you outright bash every product they send you.
    4. anyone else notice that a large percentage of the “posties” are stay at home moms? nothing wrong with this at all, but everyone i have come in contact who is a postie is in this demo set.

  • http://www.genkidesuyo.blogspot.com Robyn

    Allen Stern–you would be WRONG! Lots of “Posties” are SAHM, but if you would read some of the blogs–especially the ones of the people who have been doing this the longest–they are all 9-5′rs. Many are from across the world. As for the negative posts not happening–they most certainly are. One postie completely BASHED a site she was writing about–she got a great big thank you from the company for letting them know where they could improve-it happens daily!

  • Snuzulooz

    Allen Stern:

    I am not sure what you are implying about SAHMs ? I would be interested to hear you clarify that point. Yes, I am a SAHM but if you are implying that means I have nothing of value to share with the world you are sorely misguided. If you would like to review this “Postie’s” resume you would find it includes four college degrees including a Doctorate of Audiology.

    Anxiously waiting to hear how this fits into your “demo” set??

  • http://www.peoplegeek.tv Heather Flanagan

    It reminds me of the ads in the New Yorker that look like the comics in same. Those always have “advertisement” written in small print and are never as intertaining as the real cartoons.

    I hope and pray that viewers are savvier than we think. I don’t find commercials very interesting or entertaining usually, but if they are, I will watch them online. They seldom contribute to me buying something I don’t want or need.

    Oh, look at the time! It’s time for my Dr. Pepper!

  • Pingback: Speaking of the Blogging A-List: Calacanis Interviews PayPerPost at Henricus

  • Pingback: Idea City: Marketing - Advertising - Culture

  • Pingback: Pay Per Post Blogging Exposed - Work Less, Earn More, Enjoy What You Do!

  • http://matthiaschronicles.tanaya.net Mar Matthias Darin

    I’ve written about PayPerPost and why it will kill any blog here. PayPerPost is definately something that should be avoided.

  • http://luncefordqc.bplaced.net/jacktf.html gwen stefani danger zone

    zjtben ycla

  • http://gedagian.interfree.it/groupme.html sex tour in thailand

    ksjxwpm jmey avxmcyt fzqrve

  • Pingback: Bloggers: Hypocrisy of ethics — Shooting at Bubbles

  • http://www.garantitatil.com Tatil

    I need this information preferably tomorrow so immediate response are most definitely welcomed (needed in this case, being that I have to submit this on Monday) lol.

  • Pingback: Posting Redux: Bloggers - Hypocrisy of ethics — Shooting at Bubbles

  • http://www.bursahaber.com bursa

    BuzzMachine – you are just another spoilt brat throwing tantrums.

  • http://www.gezi-rehberi.org Gezi Rehberi

    i hope and pray that viewers are savvier than we think. I don’t find commercials very interesting or entertaining usually, but if they are, I will watch them online. They seldom contribute to me buying something I don’t want or need.

  • http://www.tatilbudur.com ucuz tatil

    Allen Stern–you would be WRONG! Lots of “Posties” are SAHM, but if you would read some of the blogs–especially the ones of the people who have been doing this the longest–they are all 9-5?rs. Many are from across the world. As for the negative posts not happening–they most certainly are. One postie completely BASHED a site she was writing about–she got a great big thank you from the company for letting them know where they could improve-it happens daily!

  • http://www.gezi-yorum.net gezi rehberi

    Anyone else notice that a large percentage of the “posties” are stay at home moms? nothing wrong with this at all, but every1 i have come in contact who is a postie is in this demo set.

  • http://agva.neredekal.com/otelleri/ a?va otelleri

    It’s about time people started shedding light on Ted Murphy’s malleable “ethics”. Though his businesses change and his revenue streams come and go there is one consistent theme – exploitation.

  • Pingback: Pray per post — BuzzMachine - Bir Kötülük