Wired has an article up about a new Service called Blogversations. In short, this company pays bloggers to post about certain companies.
Blogversations, however, gets it backward. It wants marketers to actively tell a blogger what to discuss and then they will sponsor that discussion. Oh, I’m sure they’ll say they won’t tell the blogger what to say, only the topic. But in my judgment, this goes over the line: It calls into question the blogger’s credibility (would she be talking about this if she weren’t paid to talk about this?). And it is contrary to the essence and appeal of blogs: I talk about what I want to talk about. Love it or leave it, read it or not, sponsor it or not, that’s what we bloggers do.
I think that I am going to try this (barring objections from you, my faithful readers). I will give you a couple of caveats. First, I won’t “sneak” any of these in on you. They will all be labeled at the top and bottom, “Content Sponsored by So and So and Blogervasions: (the topic)”. If I can’t clearly mark these things, I won’t do them. I won’t accept any controlled content. You will know exactly what topic I agreed to, because I will tell you exactly what I was hired to write about.
I think this can work, and I think it can be good for the blogosphere. Part of why the blogosphere has little credibility is that there is no money in it. (This is one of the arguments of Mike Wormy Fumento.) If this takes off and is effective as viral marketing, then it will give more credibility to the blogosphere.
Most importantly, I think it will help us consumers, because I don’t think that the blogosphere is going to let money cause them to start pulling punches. Even if I softball a sponsor, someone is going to call me on it. This means that the effective advertisers in the blogosphere will be the ones with the best products, not the ones that spends the most money. Companies will have an incentive to make better products that withstand the tempering of the blogosphere, and the blogosphere will help these superior products rise to the top.