Hey Bloggers, PayPerPost is Illegal
Matthew Ingram and Tony Hung go into it in more detail, but the
FCC FTC has made a ruling on schemes (like PayPerPost) where bloggers get paid to review products without having to disclose the agreement. Quote: “such marketing could be deceptive if consumers were more likely to trust the product’s endorser “based on their assumed independence from the marketer.”
Raised concerns about a specific type of amplified word-of-mouth marketing, specifically the practice of marketers paying a consumer (the “sponsored consumer”) to distribute a message to other consumers without disclosing the nature of the sponsored consumer’s relationship with the marketer.
We are at the crossroad of determining what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour on the “social” Internet. There’s been a few snafus lately with major corporations and astroturfing (word-of-mouth marketing gone bad). Notably the Walmart story a few months ago, but in just the past few days there has been a fake Playstation 3 blog / viral marketing campaign was revealed.
If bloggers try to do paid reviews via a more ethical / legal service like reviewme.com, they may still be penalized by search engines (more recent) . Search engines like Google use links heavily in their algorithm to determine the top results, and companies have been trying to use sites like PayPerPost and Reviewme.com to buy links and increase their position. Being in the top three results on Google for a search term can make or break a business.
I find the subject interesting because I have participated in word-of-mouth-marketing campaigns for Nokia, O’Reilly and Wiley (free products if I write about them — always disclosed.)
 Avoid the search engine penalty by using rel=”nofollow” on the links for paid reviews.