Apply Directly To The Pocketbook

1202782Hey, did you guys hear about this awesome new product called HeadOn? You rub it on your forehead and it totally makes your headache go away. I don't know how it works, it's like magic or something, but I know this guy who had all these migraines and then, like, poof, gone, you know? It's really cool, and aren't their ads so, so, so, funny, too? Anyway, I would totally buy some if I were you.

(Side note to PayPerPost Inc: Can I have my $12 now?)

Confused, dear reader? You won't be if you read this highly entertaining piece in the Los Angeles Times about bloggers who get paid to shill. "Thousands of bloggers are writing sponsored posts touting such diverse topics as diamonds, digital cameras and drug clinics," notes Josh Friedman. "The bloggers are spurred by new marketing middlemen such as PayPerPost Inc. that connect advertisers with mom-and-pop webmasters."

Unsurprisingly, the practice is getting roundly criticized by new media watchdogs.

"PayPerPost versus authentic blogging is like comparing prostitution with making love to someone you care for deeply," Jason McCabe Calacanis told the Times. "No one with any level of ethics would get involved with these clowns."

But blogger Colleen Caldwell, who was paid $12 to build buzz for a movie called "The Ultimate Gift," defends the practice. "People talk about how we're destroying the credibility of the Internet," she said. "Let me tell you — there are a lot worse things happening online." (Seriously, though, Colleen: 12 bucks?)

She also says the paid posts drive traffic, since PayPerPost users link to each other. "That gives her a bigger audience for her unpaid musings on topics including a recent dream about Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays Dwight in NBC's sitcom 'The Office,'" the Times notes.

PayPerPost requires that bloggers disclose their compensation, but how they do so is up to them. Most, the Times says, have a blue disclaimer button on their homepage that readers must click on to find out about the arrangement.

"You put an ad inside the text and it's more of a subtle way of advertising," Tim Draper, a PayPerPost stakeholder, told the Times. "It doesn't take away from the blogger."