Paying readers or paying bloggers for getting attention?

It’s not really a new fact, that advertisers are trying to do all sorts of stuff for getting the attention of consumers. However, in the last couple of days I read about two new payment models introduced by startups that want to offer a better, more efficient way than traditional media buys to place ads where they can find the attention of people.
TechCrunch writes about a start up called Pay per Post. This company pays bloggers to write (positive) reviews about their products:

There does not appear to be any requirement that the payment for coverage be disclosed. There is a requirement that PayPerPost.com must approve your post before you are paid.

The Scobelizer expresses his opinion on the fact that bloggers should disclose whenever they write something based on money or free product samples. He specifically says:

I will try to keep my advertising and editorial separate and easily identifyable. […]
Why is disclosure so important? Because I, as a reader, need to know about potential conflicts of interest.

And he is right about that, credibility is the most important asset any media souce has (unless you’re writing for the „national enquirer“, „the sun“ or the „Bild“ – those papers I’d rather classify as entertainment).
I don’t agree with this kind of „advertising“ at all. I think it is utterly important for any content producer to stay independent and make that clear.
But I can see how advertisers (being one myself) are trying to „buy“ attention in any way they can – even if that means buying the time and space of non-professionals, who already have the attention of other non-professionals. (Which is exactly the reason why this non-professional content is so promising: I myself like to read bloggers content, because I consider it true and non-biased by anything.)

At the same time, funnily enough, I read news on Informationweek about another startup called Jellyfish paying consumers for spending their time reading or viewing ads. It is a comparison shopping site like many others, with the one single edge to it, that might make consumers prefer using this platform instead of others:

The company […] plans to give the customer half the ad revenue it collects from the advertiser upon making a sale.

The result is that Jellyfish users can get products for less because half the marketing dollars spent by advertisers go directly their customers instead of to a third party. […] the cash returned can result in discounts of up to 24%, according to the company. This number will rise and fall daily as merchants bid for consumers‘ business.

Users can collect their cash once products can no longer be returned, in order to prevent abuse of the system.

In this model, advertisers clearly benefit from the fact, that they place their ads on this site. Question is: will people go to jellyfish first to find out about things and then buy whatever they found? Or will they search for stuff anywhere on the web and then buy at jellyfish to get the discount – which means that advertisers will still have to also advertise „anywhere on the web“ to get the attention of these people?

On the Motley Fool this whole thing is also covered, and they state on thing which is fairly certain to happen:

Jellyfish’s arrival is only going to make things harder, since consumers will now expect discounts.

As advertisers are trying to find new ways of „buying“ the attention these two approaches might be ways to succeed. But I doubt it in the longterm.
The first will only be effective as long as the credibility issue rises to steam and bloggers realise that their audience reacts to advertising on their blogs just like they would in the traditional media.
The second one will only work out for everyone, as long as it has not become the normal procedure on the web to share ad revenue with the target audience. Once this model has been applied on all shopping sites, consumers will only experience a general drop in prices across all websites. A general rebate on all things bought online funded by advertising. And, realistically speaking, once this becomes common practise, advertisers will start to look for ways decreasing spending across the board.

Either way – paying bloggers or paying shoppers – I am still not convinced you get quality-attention by paying anyone. As soon as the flow of money decreases, you loose your audience. Instead, you need to involve your target audience, engage them in your brand and the story of your brand. Get them to buy your product, because they value that – and not the discount.

PS: How BS is this Quote from the article in the informationweek?

The name „Jellyfish,“ says president Mark McGuire, reflects the company’s intent to bring transparency to the ad market.

Hey, get real: this was a domain you still had from the late 90s and it makes more sense than any domain or artificial web2.0 name you could get nowadays, right?



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