Pay per spam

A Fortune Forbes reporter called me the other day as he started into a story about Pay Per Post and once again, I wish I’d done the interview by email so I could point to what I told him.

He was enthusiastic about Pay Per Post catching on. I asked him what evidence he had to say that. He said it had lots of posties and lots of advertisers and is getting more funding. Well, funding is not necessarily a sign of a successful business. I asked whether it was profitable and whether it was performing for those advertisers. I took him through my logic of why Pay Per Post surely cannot work for advertisers as a branding and marketing tool because posties’ paid blog posts are unreadable and not credible and have no audience. I said that I thought this was nothing but human splogging: an effort to get bloggers to link to companies for SEO. I begged him to call Google and find out their view of this and whether they were set to block it. I urged him to get to advertisers to find out what alleged value they got out of this. I told him that I think less of advertisers — namely, HP — that use this. I pleaded with him to be skeptical.

Here’s his rather puffy. He glosses right over the human splogging as if it were a fringe benefit, not a scam:

Some advertisers have pretty good luck with the system. Besides buzz, PayPerPost’s army of bloggers can influence a Web site’s all-important rank in search engines.

The algorithms that determine search engine results pay particular attention to how many different pages link to a site, and by suddenly introducing hundreds of new links to a particular site, PayPerPost has the power to radically and rapidly affect this.

In January, for example, when PayPerPost bloggers began writing about Hewlett-Packard (nyse: HPQ – news – people ), the search terms ”HP” and ”HP Camera” spiked in the Neilsen NetRatings, which monitor Internet activity.

When posties embedded trailers of the 2006 Ashley Judd movie Bug in their blogs, the video became one of the most popular on, a popular indexer of what’s happening on the Web. Last week, when posties were offered $18 to talk up John Cusack’s new movie, 1408, all 300 opportunities were snatched up within 24 hours.

There’s the lead, damnit. Pay Per Post isn’t advertising, marketing, branding, any of that. It’s an attempt to get around Google’s and Technorati’s splog filters. You might as well have — pace Andrew Keen — a million, uh, well, monkeys typing links.

: Oh, and I don’t sniff. I snort.