I just finished listening to the podcast on TalkCrunch (mp3 download) where Michael Arrington interviewed the founder and CEO of PayPerPost, Ted Murphy, Josh Stein a Director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Rob Hof Silicon Valley Bureau Chief at Business Week. It was one of the best podcasts I had heard so far.
PayPerPost connects advertisers with bloggers that are willing to blog about certain products, that the advertisers choses and pays them for blogging about them. The advertiser has to approve the blog article before paying.
The business model seems to be discussed heavily in the blogosphere, as you can already see at the number of comments and links to the article about it on techcrunch. The podcast is a very interesting discussion about the business model, if it is ethical or not, the possible future of such service and other companies and facts around the topic. It is really worth listening to!
My opinion here is that PayPerPost does not need to be regulated by any higher power or is unethical. I found Michael Arringtons arguments a bit weak here, mainly he says it is not ethical when a blog post does not say that the author has been paid for. And he thinks that it is even worse when journalists write “anonymously” besides their employment (or contract). I just simply agree with the guy who comments that PayPerPost is just the same as “like when an actor in a movie just happens to pull out a Motorola cell phone and use it in a way that the brand is noticeable”. That is simply true, the movie doesn’t tell upfront “Attention: advertising being spilled on you, if you want or not”. And honestly there were so many concerns about Weblogs, Inc. and paying bloggers. And all this is forgotten and Jason Calacanis is moving on towards bigger goals. There is no big difference about how Weblogs, Inc. does it and how PayPerPost does it, PayPerPost just offers the platform without being the blog provider itself (which Weblogs, Inc. is) and they just connect those people. If people surf on Weblogs, Inc. they don’t know that the articles on there are from payed authors, until they digg deeper and want to find out.
Just let it go, I will be watching, it looks interesting.
What I like a lot about the way Michael Arrington is interviewing people is that he is walking the thin line of getting as many details as possible to driving them nuts by drilling for information as deep as possible. I had already a couple of grins on my face about his techniques and courage to do it. Great! Also the podcast with the Pageflakes founder Christoph Janz one episode later on TalkCrunch was driven very strongly by Michael to get the number of users of Pageflakes out of Christoph. Fortunately in the right moment Michael gave up and turned on to other important facts. That is what I mean by walking the thin line.
I remember very well how I was crossing a street and turning to go into the park when I started to have a big grin on my face because I was listening to the podcast and I felt that Christoph had to find good arguments to stay strong in this discussion or simply scream at Michael “we don’t disclose those numbers” :-). Fortunately when I had walked another two minutes (or so) when I was aside the nice river Isar and Michael said “I think we have beaten this topic to death” and I was releaved that I didn’t have to listen to another round of well argumented questions from him. One can hear that he is a lawyer. Great stuff Michael, keep it up! Beside Venture Voice and FLOSS weekly this is my favourite podcasts.