Saturday, November 10, 2007

Social Spark Launched at Postiecon 07

Okay, I admit that I stayed after Blogworld for this Postiecon 07 in Las Vegas. I didn't know what to expect but now that it is over, I can put the weird cult like atmosphere aside and write about it. I had flashbacks to early days of eBay and some of their fan events.

Full disclosures. This blog is not sponsored in any way by anyone. It's just my longtime eight year old web forum persona here. I didn't receive anything from Izea AKA PayPerPost AKA SocialSpark other than the usual convention stuff like a shirt and drink holders. I even bought my own lunch. I've never been paid for a blog post anywhere. I did use PayPerPost in the past as an advertiser and am still not sure of the results, if any.

PayPerPost was the controversial system built by Ted Murphy in 2006. It allowed bloggers to make money by posting about who knows what. Advertisers paid for this. Many bloggers used it in a deceitful way of writing about stuff without saying they were paid for it. And many other bloggers always disclosed it. Controversy ensued. And I can't help but smirk at the irony of the name being Postiecon when some thought that the idea of hidden paid blog posts was a con for readers. Enough said.

Izea became the name for the parent company. And now another step away from PayPerPost and nail in the coffin of it was unveiled at Postiecon 07 and it is called Social Spark. No, it's not the dating website that had consumer complaints against it. I assume the domain changed hands for this new venture (but I don't know anything about that for sure) which is due to be released in January 2008. The socialspark website just goes to payperpost for now. In the end, it distances the system away from what it was and that's a smart move.

Everything is more open, even to those not logged in. There does not seem to be any privacy anymore. We can see all the good and bad posts and ad buys out there. They have extensive demographic information which will mislead a lot of people. The demographics come from the members of this marketplace. It is not data on a large swatch of people like MySpace or Facebook. Data on a bunch of people selling their words for a few bucks may not be an advertisers typical customer. It is a social network for bloggers and advertisers. Does a major corporation want to be social with a woman who blogs about mosquitoe nets, Costa Rica and breast implants in the same day for $5?

Probably not.

There seem to be positives for both advertisers and bloggers. Advertisers can inspect bloggers more closely and even have a price driven downward from what they originally set.

There is a marketplace for free posts. A blogger can get sponsorship on their blog. They can put annoying ads of all kinds over their blog for a set fee per day. In the best aspect I saw, a blogger can request a job or indicate interest in advertisers. This indicates possible passion and interest which is good for both sides. Advertisers have more control over their campaigns as well. Overall, I think the improvements are better for advertisers than bloggers. And that's what is needed to grow this kind of company. You can't cater everything to a small percentage of the bloggers on the net, the most successful of which says they make less than 20k in over a year.

All links will be "no follow" and have the same disclosure badge. This has several aspects to it.

It eliminates those that hide their posts.

It eliminates advertises looking for link love. They will have to want all that traffic from small blogs that write about nothing and everything in the world for a few bucks. And from what I heard today, most of which traffic is probably from marketplace bloggers praising each other.

It makes it easy for Google to find one consistent graphic and just nuke all those websites. One could argue the no follow tag link will make it look better however because it passes no credibility. But does an advertiser want to pay for an endorsement that says "no endorsement" behind the scenes?

Some negative things about Alexa and Google were said at this event. Alexa stats are skewed to people who have a toolbar installed. They are gamed and falsely inflate tech related companies who know about Alexa. So how is a ranking system from within a network of paid to post bloggers praising each other any better? Unknown. It's just a ranking of which paid blogs are the most trafficked and have a widget installed.

As for the backlash against Google changes lately. They created Pagerank and they own it. They can change it any time they want. Other companies and people opted to use it to make or save money and they have to accept the risk of it changing at any time.

That's my take as I see it right now. But it's early on....

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