Via Neatorama, I read about ReviewMe, a site that aspires to connect advertisers with bloggers. The idea, more or less, is that advertisers pay a blogger to review a product, using ReviewMe as a third-party escrow for the cash.
According to the ReviewMe FAQ, the blogger has no obligation to be positive:
We do not allow advertisers to require a positive review. The vast majority of reviews are measuredly positive, although many do contain constructive criticism. We view this as a bonus: how else can you quickly and cheaply get feedback on a product or service from influencers?
I can’t imagine how they know that “the vast majority of reviews are measuredly positive”. After all, they just launched, didn’t they? Speaking personally, I’m always keener to negatively review something–it’s much more fun. I’ve heard the same from professional and amateur critics alike.
I know I shouldn’t throw stones in this glass house, but ‘measuredly’ means ‘in a deliberate, unhurried manner’. I’m pretty sure they mean ‘measurably’.
Here’s what will be telling, though: I get paid to write 5 reviews. I write 5 bad reviews. Will future advertisers want to pay me? Somehow I doubt it.
They pay based on the popularity of your blog, as apparently measured by Alexa reports, Technorati links and the like. I registered both this site and GeekyTraveller.com. Here’s how much I’ll make for each site if I write a review. The ‘payout’ is the number that matters:
In fact, as a launch project, ReviewMe.com is inviting reviewing bloggers to review their own site. For cash. So, this entry could make me US $125. That’s pretty good money for a post I might write anyway.
Speaking of the site, it’s pretty usable, but nothing to write home about. It has that Web 2.0 sparseness that’s so common these days, with a minimum of fuss and colour. I imagine they’ll be revisiting their wordmark/logo before long. It’s like they surgically replaced Mickey Mouse’s torso with a big ‘M’ and ‘E’.
Interestingly, my adblocking Firefox extension actually b0rked the site’s home page, as you can see in this screen capture. I assume this is because the left hand ‘Advertisers’ image is inside a <div id=”advertisers”> tag. Ah, the modern foibles of web design.
What do I think of the service itself? It basically formalizes and commodifies the work we often do in online marketing–connecting companies with online influencers who might be interested in their products. It’s more or less like traditional journalism, except that they’ve removed the ad sales rep, publisher, editor et al from the process. Are those filters important to journalistic integrity? If I believe what I parrot about blogging being about authenticity, and that your readers are your editors, then no, probably not. People will stop reading if I start shilling for, I don’t know, Febreeze.
On the other hand, advertisers are basically buying links (admittedly, I didn’t see any requirement to link to the advertisers’ sites). I guess, though, they’re buying links at their own risk, because they could get reviewed negatively.
All of this feels very Web 2.0 bubble to me, but I’ll be curious to see how it evolves.