The real reason behind pay-per-post schemes: Robert Scoble explains exactly why someone would pay to have a product mentioned by a blogger no matter what the blogger says: Google juice.
“So, why do it? If I still ran a camera store in Silicon Valley, here’s why I’d pay bloggers to post about my camera store: to game Google.”
This is my not-so-humble opinion: If a blogger is accepting money to write about a product inside the edit well — within the context of a blog post and is not disclosing what is taking place, I believe it is a form of splogging. I have decided that I will not link to bloggers who I know are doing such. I see no merit in the argument by the scheme’s backers that “bloggers should be paid” when they write about a product. There are plenty of ways to monetize ones blog outside the edit well in spaces that are clearly marked “sponsored” or “advertisement” or “advertorial.” Inside the edit well and un-disclosed, such a practice is insidious. Without transparency or disclosure, getting paid to post is unethical and will lead to a blogger’s instant demise in credibility. Even with disclosure, if you sell off your edit well to paid-link search-engine-optimizing marketing companies, you’re a co-conspirator in a black-hat marketing scam that Google and the other search firms should fight.
Do I sound outraged? I hope so. And that may sound a little ironic to some people as I’m in the business of helping companies create marketing media in the form of customer and member magazines and web-properties. But nothing we touch is “hidden” — everything follows a stringent ethical guideline of disclosure. We don’t try to “pretend” to be something we’re not. Our edit is clearly marked “edit” and our ads are clearly marked “ads.” On the covers and front pages, they say “sponsored by” or “brought to you by.” I have worked a long time to raise the credibility and editorial value of media created by marketers for customers and members who want to learn more about products they buy or associations to which they belong.
So yes, I’m pretty outraged when a “pay to post” idea gets traction under the guise of “bloggers should be allowed to make money from their posts” when, in fact, the bloggers will do nothing but bury their integrity.
A suggestion, however: If you are a blogger and you want to participate in such a scheme but you want to be able to defend yourself from the kind of criticism that this post suggests you’ll receive from me and others, then have a separate, sponsored area of your blog — a mini-blog outside your posts, perhaps. Then, clearly label the content in that section with something like: “The content in this area of my blog is sponsored by the products I mention.” Here’s an even better suggestion: Let the sponsor blog in that space themselves, ala Techmeme “sponsor posts.”