SocialSpark.com Preview – PayPerPost Goes Googley?

 

I have been watching & listening to PostieCon via Ustream and chatting in the Meebo chatroom, and at the same time exchanging a few emails with Ted Murphey about Izea’s (new parent company of PayPerPost) new Advertising marketplace, SocialSpark.com

Social Spark

What Is Social Spark?

  • Advertiser Social Network
  • Advertisers Interact With Bloggers – build up a network of media outlets for their niche
  • Highest Standards in Word of Mouth Marketing – PayPerPost have up until now been responding to market forces and allowing the market to define itself. They are now going to be taking a proactive roll to lead the industry.
  • Unique Blog Welcomeâ„¢ Sponsorhip – this is an amazing idea using overlays to present a blog sponsorship greeting to a visitor, and then the advert minimizes in a corner of the display. This is a much more visible method. From what I have seen this is a lot like the various types of corner advertising, but visitors will have already been greeted with a message.
    (this would also be a cool aleternative to popups & interstitials for any kind of marketing message) This option doesn’t take up any screen real estate.
  • Accountable Analytics – current methods for advertisers to present the viability of advertising on a particular blog basically… suck – you name it
    • PageRank is worthless – you can have a site with a PageRank of 7 and almost no traffic, and at the same time have a PR3 blog that gets thousands of visitors a day.
    • Alexa & Compete are easily gamed and are highly biased in many verticals such as web design, SEO and technology, and the sites people in those industries frequent.
    • Quantcast would be useful… but very few sites include Quantcast code on their sites, even those who are marketing aware.

    Advertisers will be able to compare CPM and CPC advertising spends across their whole advertising spend and have full access to demographic data.
    The aim is to provide advertisers and bloggers with as much relevant statistical information as they can.

  • Open Platform – Izea will have their own API that will be available to the public, but will also leverage Google’s recently announced OpenSocial API
  • Feedback – Advertisers can leave feedback on Bloggers, and Bloggers can leave feedback on Advertisers – everything is open…. transparent
  • Integration with RSSBrief
  • All data is searchable – this helps Advertisers find suitable bloggers to promote their brand
  • Real Rank based upon Real unique visitors and page views (with widgets available to display on your blog)

Here is what a blogger profile will look like

SocialSpark Interface

Colleen and and the amazingly fast Jim have already got posts up before me.

Colleen loves the idea of realistic stats not based upon PageRank and Alexa.

Jim is expecting the existing PayPerPost service to die off

Sponsored Posts in Social Spark

  • Dynamic pricing for all blogs to maximise the return on investment for an advertiser
  • In post requirement for disclosure badges
  • Return on investment by tracking clicks within the interface on information links
  • Advertisers can pay for additional opportunity exposure in the marketplace
  • Bloggers can book advertising for a whole week and reach out to advertisers on opportunities they are qualified to take.
  • Review exchanges
  • Two Types of Links
    • Required Links = Nofollow
    • Suggested Links = Does not have to be Nofollow

Blog Sponsorship

  • Sponsorship is per day
  • Medium Rectangle or video

Here is a very rough screenshot of the blog sponsorship configuration page, the advert appears much nicer on an actual page, but isn’t the fancy kind of fly in advert I expected.
I didn’t see it flash animated coming in, or how it hides exactly.

SocialSpark Blog Sponsorship

What wasn’t specified is how they handle tracking within RSS but the sneaky side of RSSBrief is what I was expecting.
All blogs crawled by RSSBrief and can be approached by advertisers, and have been crawled already.

This system is in Alpha… moving into a closed beta, full launch in January 2008 – hopefully I will be able to do some testing and be allowed to write more in the coming months, but I will need to bend Ted’s arm… a lot.

For those asking, I didn’t catch any direct reaction to PageRank other than it isn’t exactly very reliable or truthful about whether a site being looked at is good or bad.
Lets face it, we all know PR8 sites that actually suck and are almost all duplicate content, and PR2 sites that are 100% original content.

Update

The technology “A List” have titled their own announcements with typically controversial titles, though what they have written is surprisingly neutral.

Mashable with PayPerPost Launches Social Network for Shills comments:-

The bigger question here, at least to me, is will IZEA start to receive a bit of positive press from the “A-Listers” that have made a living out of deriding them and calling the system evil?

Michael Arrington’s titled “PayPerPost’s Latest Gimmick – SocialSpark” is neutral other than the last line:-

There’s absolutely nothing distasteful about it as an idea. But to the extent it furthers the pollution of the blogosphere by encouraging more paid shilling, it makes us all worse off.

But the best line is from Michael Arrington in the comments

Zizi – no, there are legitimate reasons for bloggers to work for PPP. Writing paid posts isn’t something I would do, but with proper disclosure it certainly doesn’t cross the line (in my opinion). It’s the edge cases that create the train wrecks.

Now considering Michael Arrington, from the stage of the 2007 Mesh conference called Ted “The Most Evil Person In The Room”, I look on the above as quite a significant change of heart.

Are we likely to see Techcrunch running transparent statistics from SocialSpark in the future?

Update

Ted Murphy has posted a few more details of SocialSpark on the Izea blog.

I love his concluding remark:-

All required links in SocialSpark sponsored posts will carry the no-follow tag (or something more appropriate) because… well, I guess the most advanced search algorithms in the world need our help.

Ted has some interesting observations about why this new community won’t encourage advertisers to buy directly (though maybe some advertising they will buy direct).
He also emphasises that Socialspark will be the first service to provide an auditable trail of disclosure for the advertiser, and have a totally open database that anyone interested can see.

 

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Comments

  1. Marisa says

    Thanks for the write up Andy. I tried to listen but my audio kept getting muddled. I really appreciate this synopsis!

  2. says

    Nice writeup! I think this has the potential to make the relationship between bloggers and advertisers far more personable. Being able to find advertisers with similar interests and goals (and vice versa) can only be a good thing.

  3. says

    Thanks for doing all of this, Andy. We all really appreciate it.

    I’m excited about the feedback option for both advertisers and bloggers. Also, I think the flash intro will go over really well if the pay is high enough. I don’t see many people snatching one of those for $5.

    I’m looking forward to January when the rest of us can try it.

  4. says

    I knew something good was afoot as soon as I read the first hints about Argus. Investing in real metrics just had to be the tip of the iceberg. One of the things that made PPP (and ReviewMe, Sponsored Review etc.) look like selling page rank was the fact that there were no decent metrics to predict ROI. So, all services just had to permit Advertisers the option of using several– including PR– to try to anticipate blog quality.

    Real traffic metrics– along with click rates etc. will alleviate this. Many, many advertisers really want traffic & publicity quite a bit and will pay for that. Google PR was a poor proxy for that– but often the best one available.

    • says

      It is certainly a case that not all advertisers are looking for the traffic and conversions. Some are just looking for the search engine benefit.
      I am happy that they are moving away from the search engine benefit, it will make things a little easier.

      In many ways I have been working this way all along

  5. says

    It looks like they are capitalizing on the success of PayPerPost to create something that potentially can become the next big thing in online ad brokering. A few years ago large brokers like Burst Media, Casale and similar ruled by filling your adspots of choice with generic ads. The AdSense came in and took over for a while, before being challenged by “paid posts”, which was never going to be a lasting model (imo). (That whole paragraph is just a brief generalization, so don’t jump on me for it!)

    This might be the next big thing. It’s somewhat hard to get a good impression of it without actually trying it, but I hope they will incorporate a way for publishers to sell their different adspots as well (such as for instance 125×125 ads), completely with stats. That might finally teach advertisers that CTR actually depends on the ads they decide to put up as well, and not just the publisher ;)

    I’m excited, can’t wait to give it a try!

    • says

      Lars-Christian, I was actually hoping for some placement advertising included as well, but that is probably not a major tweak, and easy to discuss and keep 100% ;)

  6. says

    Hopefully, with this implementation of Social Spark, monetisation methods on the Internet will not be depending on Google Page Rank alone. Great writers and reviewers, bloggers who have REAL traffic will earn the REAL money they are supposed to earn.

    If everything goes according as planned, I will second the opinion that Social Spark will become the next big thing on the Internet.

    Thanks Andy for the post.

  7. says

    It’s good that there is some social network site right now wherein we can interact with advertisers. Anyway hoping that this sort of social media will benefit the bloggers and advertisers as well.

  8. says

    Hey Andy!

    This post of yours has me very excited about future possibilities. Innovative and well thought – both your post and the mission behind SocialSpark.com.

    What do we need to do to twist Ted’s arm so you can do more testing and reporting? I always appreciate your ‘take’ and ‘review’ on services – as I’m sure many others do as well.

    Cheers! Laura

  9. says

    I’ve only started doing sponsored posts in the last couple of weeks but so far I find them to be a fantastic way to make money with your blog. We seem to be at the mercy of Google to an extent at the moment because of the influence of PageRank.

    If this next, new thing helps to replace that, it may be a good thing. On the other hand I’ll have to really concentrate on getting more visitors now!

  10. Flower Delivery says

    Ugh. Real rank based upon actual unique visitors?
    That’s often times as useless as PR, depending on your goals.

    Anyone ever get their Digg stories on the front page with tons of visitors and virtually NO sign-ups, new customers, or any other MWR metric that really matters? Heck, every popular digg story is like that.

    Some marketers are working on developing real stats for actionable “click-thru” and conversion rates.

    Besides, if I’m paying for a PR8 post, then I’m paying for a PR8. Traffic is a by-product and assuming I’m a “smart” marketer, I’ve done my research and I’m looking at the long-term effects on “traffic” ie. better rankings.

    But saying PR is useless is equally analogous to saying banner ads are useless. TOOLBAR PR is useless, but anyone who’s using that as their only/main metric deserves to overspend their marketing budgets on failed techniques.

    Great Review!

  11. says

    Hey Andy,

    This is my first time on your blog.

    Thanx for the excellent post on SocialSpark.com. I will make sure I go there and learn more about the service.

    Cheers

    John

  12. says

    This looks different and promising.. maybe should gif it a try

    But I noticed PPP paid my $$ yesterday where PayPal deducted the 3% transfer fees.. does it mean that PPP will start paying like this?

    This would be a huge lost for publishers!

  13. says

    Thanks for the great review. I look forward to working with Social Spark, which will make it better for those that Google threw under the bus with the PR junk.

    Cheers

  14. says

    This is really good news for people with good amount of traffic to their blogs. For others like me, would have to start building traffic to the blogs. Thanks for the detailed preview.

  15. says

    Thanks for the explanation. I have been wondering what is this all about. Read a bit here and there but still confused. Now you’ve summarized it so well and easily understood. Thanks a lot!

  16. says

    Ah! I was pretty confused with the concept of Advertiser Social Networking… I guess I have a vague idea now after reading your post. Thanks!

  17. says

    I just visited that site for the first time and watched the entire video. Although it’s been released for quite a few months it’s the first I’ve heard of it. I’m probably going to end up registering by the end of the day.

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