Sponsored Post: ReviewMe Review

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I've been using Text Link Ads on my site for a while now. I don't know if my readers notice them, but they are the small, text based (imagine that) ads to the right of the browser. About a week ago I got an invite to join ReviewMe. The concept is simple:

  • You write a review.
  • They pay you.
  • Your review must state that you were paid for the review.
  • And yes - you can write negative reviews.

As someone who considers himself a semi-professional blogger, I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. On the one hand - the service goes out of its way to ensure that you tell your readers that you are getting paid to review. (And to be clear - I'm trying out this service myself and I am getting paid.) They also make it clear you can write negative reviews. So I don't get a "scummy" feel from them.

At the same time though - I like to review products that matter to me and my readers. I don't need to get paid to do them. I get paid typically by folks clicking on related ads or visiting my wishlist. So this feels like it may be on the edge of ... I don't know. Something.

I can say if they were to hook me up with the actual software I was reviewing (which could actually be worth a lot more than the normal payout) I'd feel better about it. Ditto for reviews on KidGamers. (Oh, and yes, Nintendo, I'd be happy to review the Wii.)

If you are a blogger and would like to see a few other reviews, check out these:

//engtech
problogger review

One thing for sure - the old "Slap a Google Ad Up" model is slowly getting replaced by more interesting ad types. Is that good or bad?

Raymond Camden's Picture

About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Rick O posted on 11/11/2006 at 11:21 AM

I think it's inevitable. I've been telling my clients since ~2001 that banner ad dollars were a house of cards and would dry up. (Not to mention the fact that they are ugly and easily filtered.) The key to the future of not just advertising but revenue in general on the web would be actual partnerships with people where there was a vested mutual interest. Of course, I was a little early in my doom and gloom, I think, but not ultimately wrong.

And, really, think about where that takes advertising in the future: peer to peer instead of broadcast. We're all more likely to trust word of mouth than a billboard or a banner ad, even if we know that those words were paid for. The writer knows that he has built a rapport with his readers that depends upon him being honest and trustworthy, so he has to strike a balance between pure capitalism and pure altruism. His alternative is readers flocking from his blog because the signal to noise is too low, thus causing his revenue stream to dry up.

So what's wrong with someone capitalizing on that? We've seen it already with a few major astroturfing campaigns. Even though they are the exact opposite of what we're talking about, they sort of prove the point by how badly they always backfire.

Do it right - make a good product or service and put it in the hands of people that care about it - and everyone benefits, not just the marketing people or the builders but also the consumers.

Maybe, just maybe, we'll finally get to products that sell themselves through word of mouth.

Speaking of which, when was the last time you saw and ad for Adobe Flex on TV? Or the Fusebox trailer before the latest Will Smith movie?

Comment 2 by Nathan Dintenfass posted on 11/11/2006 at 11:37 AM

Full disclosure is all well and good, but it seems like a pedantic cover for changing the basic nature of why blogs are different than most other formats -- they are about first-hand, authentic experiences. I agree it's still "your experience" with a product, but the motivations are just different, whether it's a "positive" or "negative" review it makes the content seem much less authentic to me -- the reason people read about Raymond Camden is because they want to know what kinds of things he's working on and what kinds of things he's interested in. To let someone else drive that -- and to do it "for the money" seems to me to just plain be "off-brand", without even getting into the potential ethical discussion that could be had.

My $0.02 -- much less than you'll make from ReviewMe ;)

Comment 3 by Cutter posted on 11/11/2006 at 8:17 PM

I have to agree with Rick, it's part of the future. The question is, what's the best implementation. I think you are absolutely right that, if targeted, the marketing would be effective. Client a gives (or loans) you a product that is pertinent to what you do/blog about/tell the world about. You use this product to gain real world, personal perspective. You blog about it to your readership, with the full knowledge on both sides that it is a paid review.

In some ways, is this so different from being a part of a major Beta program? You are under a NDA while working with a piece of software. You develop for the next generation of the product, providing your experiences to the software developers. When the Beta is over, and the NDA is lifted, you share your experiences with said product to everyone under the sun, while releasing your next gen apps upon the world before most others have had the opportunity to even learn, or gain from, it's benefits. You, almost immediately, begin getting paid from other clients for producing content that is on the cutting edge of technology. Some might even benefit from being first to market with books, speaking engagements, etc. on the new product.

Is it ethically wrong? If the products you review on your blog are of direct interest to you and your readership then I think the answer is no. I don't think there is anything wrong in getting paid for something that you were probably going to do anyway. In fact, I think it's pretty cool that you would get paid for your time and efforts. As mentioned, it's your responsability to manage your 'signal to noise' ratio, so as to not alienate your readership.

Now, if only someone wanted me to blog about a new automobile....

Comment 4 by Michael posted on 11/12/2006 at 12:28 AM

It would seem that you risk alienating your audience with off topic blog posts.. thats really up to the people who use it not the company itself.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/12/2006 at 1:19 AM

Some interesting comments here:

Rick O: Yep, with you 100%. Banner ads will not be the primary ad source soon I'd say. Of course - we still have TV commercials. Even with DVR chewing into their effectiveness, they are still around.

Nathan: As always - an interesting response. Michael - this applies to you too. I think you both assume I'd be doing reviews on off topic stuff. (Not that my blog stays on topic, but that's another topic.) Or that I'd review stuff I'm general not interested in. I truly was interested in my first review, and I couldn't imagine reviewing something I didn't actually find useful.

Now - I have to admit - I bet the temptation would be there.

All in all... I'm torn. And I also tend to think that if something brings up an ethical question - it is probably safest to err on the side of caution. So I don't think I'll be doing that again. (Although am I evil for saying that 125 dollars for a review is VERY enticing?? :)

Comment 6 by Nathan Dintenfass posted on 11/12/2006 at 4:38 AM

FWIW, I don't assume it would be "off topic" -- only that it wouldn't be truly authentic. I'm much less interested in hearing your thoughts if I know you are being paid to write them.

$125 per review ain't bad, but does it take you less than an hour to properly review something? If so, great -- if not, you could earn that much writing code ;)

Comment 7 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/12/2006 at 5:20 AM

Actually I'm a pretty fast writer. This review took maybe ten minutes. Now if I could only get paid like that in general....

Anyway - I don't think I'll be doing this again. The more time passes the more I think it just doesn't fit. Maybe on KidGamers - but not here.

Of course - I'm still going to take the money they promised to pay me. If I don't - the terrorists win. Or something like that.