I have been watching & listening to PostieCon via Ustream and chatting in the Meebo chat room, 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.
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 has 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 Welcome™ Sponsorship: This is an amazing idea using overlays to present a blog sponsorship greeting to a visitor, and then the advert minimizes in the corner of the display. This is a much more obvious method. From what I have seen this is like the various types of corner advertising, but visitors will have already been greeted with a message.
(this would also be a cool alternative to pop-ups & 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 total 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
- All data is searchable: This helps Advertisers find suitable bloggers to promote their brand
- Real Rank based on Real unique visitors and page views (with widgets available to display on your blog)
Here is what a blogger profile will look like:
Colleen and the amazingly fast Jim have already got posts up before me.
Colleen loves the idea of realistic stats not based on 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
- 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 an advert I expected.
I didn’t see it flash animated coming in, or how it hides exactly.
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 ‘s not really very reliable or truthful about whether a site being looked at is good or bad.
Let’s face it, we all know PR8 sites that actually suck and are almost all duplicate content and PR2 sites that are 100% original content.
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 at the above as quite a significant change of heart.
Are we likely to see Techcrunch running transparent statistics from SocialSpark in the future?
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 emphasizes that Socialspark will be the first service to provide an auditable trail of disclosure for the advertiser, and have an entirely open database that anyone interested can see.