Yep this is a sponsored review, though it was something I was intending to write about anyway, to announced that Sponsored Reviews is now live and available for both advertisers and bloggers.
Whilst they only required me to write 100 words, and they have no requirement to give either a positive or negative review, as always I am going to go into things with as much depth as I can, because that is the kind of content I write, and that will never change whether I am paid to do a review, include an affiliate link or not.
In fact here is the “contract” I just accepted to review their service:-
Ok lets look at what you see here :-
- Rating – I will show you how that works later
- Bid Price – that is the price I decided to set myself for reviews, though as you will see later there are methods to negotiate prices for reviews to have a win/win situation
- You Get $98 – yep that is one of the nice parts, a 65% share of the earnings.
- Min Words 100 – I am ignoring that, and I am pretty sure the advertiser knew I would anyway, so I take that as an indication they want me to write a normal review… go to town as always. If they set a maximum I would actually be upset and would never accept it.
- Status / Date – I get a full 7 days – I decided to write the review immediately because I had a chance to look behind the scenes a couple of days ago. I could probably delay the acceptance by a couple of days to stretch things out beyond a week.
I think it is important to make things absolutely transparent with this review, so here are the remainder of the instructions I received
# Please provide a link to our homepage. We also strongly suggest that you link to your blog profile page in order to notify your readers (and potential buyers) that if they want to buy a review from you they can sign up at SponsoredReviews. You can find the link to your blog profile page by clicking on the blog in your “manage blogs” tab. Here is what a profile page looks like. http://www.sponsoredreviews.com/blog-190.html
# SponsoredReviews is Officially Launched! Monday, 12th
We would love to have you review SponsoredReviews.com.
Here are some facts that separate us from the competition:
We have a low 35% transaction fee. This is the lowest out of all of our competitors.
Our Hybrid system is the only one that allows both advertisers and bloggers to search for each other.
Our bidding system allows bloggers and advertisers to negotiate pricing.
Bi-Weekly payout for bloggers means your hard work pays off quickly.
Accepted Review Information
# You have until 3/19/2007 10:57:55 AM to provide us with the URL to the completed review on your blog. If we do not receive the URL by the due date, the review will be cancelled.
They asked for a link, but technically it wouldn’t I suppose have to be a followable one ;)
I am sure someone would pick holes in them asking for a link, but if someone is looking for buzz and to drive traffic to a website, a link is a logical thing to have on a review.
I doubt I would ever review a site that I wouldn’t link to, and if I did, that is one viable use of nofollow or true dynamic links (but this review isn’t the place for nofollow and links are a pointer not a vote discussions)
They make a suggestion of a way to turn this review into more cash by including a link to my order page – very smart, and something similar could be done with affiliate links. In fact as reviews can be negotiated, the possibility of additional monetization down the road is a good incentive to do cheaper reviews.
Sponsored Reviews In Depth
When submitting a new blog you have to make sure it conforms to the Sponsored Reviews minimal requirements.
Requirements and Important Information:
* Your blog must contain at least 10 posts with 200 words of unique content each.
* Your blog must not be completely automated or appear to be created solely for search engine traffic.
* Your blog must have at least a 3:1 ratio of non-paid to paid content.
* You must complete all accepted reviews within 7 days, or your account will be suspended.
* Foreign Language blogs (non-english) must clearly state in the title which language the blog is written in. i.e. “Jose’s Blog – Spanish”. You must also state (in the description) whether you will write the review in English or another language.
* Blogs with very little traffic and/or links, may be rejected .
They are looking for real blogs, not made for Adsense sites. Blogs that have subscribers
Blogs are not automatically approved, there is a manual check done on each site, and that might take a day or so (at least it did for me though that was during beta)
Information is gathered about your blog when you sign up
I just entered my WordPress Plugins site to grab a screenshot, I won’t be doing any reviews on that site of 3rd party products.
Unfortunately I haven’t found a way of refreshing the stats for a site, which hopefully will be included in the future. Site statistics change over time, and there is no mention of a refresh interval.
After you have waited a few seconds you are presented with the following screen.
When I first signed up I believe the price they suggested for a review was $30 – now if my typical review was just 100-200 words, with the 65% payment that might be almost workable, provided there was an affiliate link available or other way to monetize the content. But I get the choice to set my own price, so I set it to $150, and I will probably increase that to $200 the same as I have promised for ReviewMe.
With paid reviews you aren’t just buying links, buzz and traffic, but some may only be looking for that, and if that is all you are after, then please don’t buy a review from me.
What I hope I can provide is:-
- Expert (?) opinion – or I just fake it extremely well, maybe I should become a Wikipedia editor
- Targeted Highly Qualified Traffic – I have very few tire kickers in my readership
- More than just the typical buzz – if there is something right or wrong with your service, from my perspective, which might relate to the perspective of my audience, you are going to hear about it, and so will my readers.
So $150 it is – bah I am worth it
On the screenshot you will also see “Status: Public” – you can also set that to private, or what I would call “Lurker Mode“.
Lurker mode would allow you to be included with the system, but not have your blog on public display for everyone to grab screenshots and point a finger at you. It would however prevent advertisers finding you. You would have to make approaches to advertisers who have posted a review opportunity.
I prefer being in a strong negotiation position with advertisers, so not having to approach them I believe is of benefit.
Here are the available categories:- (alongside is the current tag list)
House & Home
Movies & Film
In bold are the categories I write about among others, yet I can only select one category. My blog is actually fairly well niched on specific topics that tend to branch into other things quite naturally, yet the current category selection system doesn’t allow for that.
A saving grace is that the system also supports tagging, and I included lots of tags. I think I will have to increase the number of tags I used to cover some more of these broader topics.
Tags are used within the blog browsing section heavily, and in fact I think they are merged with the categories, so whilst you can only include one category currently, if you include tags for the categories you can’t select, you effectively get the same.
Already there are a few reviews available with a great variety of prices.
One of those listed was actually for Sponsored Reviews, and it had been there for a couple of days with a lower price than I eventually received, though I didn’t have to haggle for a higher price, which would have been fun and a good test of the system, or it might have highlighted one of the current flaws.
Negotiation is a discussion process, not just firing prices backwards and forwards. There are all kinds of aspects to a deal that might require some additional form of contact, and it would be best to have that on record within the interface.
This would actually be of benefit both to Sponsored Reviews and to myself – for me to ensure things are all in one place, and for Sponsored Reviews to ensure that negotiations take place there, and not off-site where private deals could be negotiated for more favourable terms.
I love the 2 way negotiation concept, and it allows advertisers to negotiate a review based on other factors. That could just be the advertiser providing a sample of the product you could keep should you wish – yes I know that the blogosphere was up in arms about Microsoft and review units of nice laptops, but that was unwarranted. This system does require true messaging to be viable however.
I would love to be able to offer a showcase to advertisers for reviews I have completed for others in the past – not just for Sponsored Reviews, but also other services. They don’t want to see the general type of blog content, but the type of review you would write for them.
If they are looking for reviews as consultation in some way, rather than just buzz marketing or links, then some idea of what they can expect would be great.
Attention To Detail
I am actually amazed to have found so few bugs or missing features with the system. There are a few things hidden away that are very good touches such as a support ticket system which should be available with all such systems, but aren’t.
Here is something I like, a configuration for notification of new review opportunities hidden in the Account Settings.
Brand new service, so how can you tell?
They are not unknown however, because they are a sister service to Text Link Brokers who have a good payment reputation.
Billing Cycles are every 2 weeks, which sounds great to me, and payments are made by Paypal which also gets a thumbs up.
You have to disclose, though I think they need to be a little more specific on how, where, why.
As an example I believe my general disclosure might be enough for legal purposes with the FTC, but Sponsored Reviews might prefer a disclosure as I have done here, in the first line.
Comparison To Other Services
PayPerPost – currently only have fixed price opportunities, but a lot more of them. Whilst many would say that PPP have different disclosure terms, I believe the required disclosure for PPP is within the law, and is far beyond what most affiliate networks require, and the disclosure most affiliates use on a day to day basis (I don’t count “(aff)” as full disclosure for casual visitors)
PPP do have higher value gigs, up to $1000 currently, but they are really aimed at buzz marketing and possibly just link acquisition. I believe they have over 15,000 reviewers, so certainly have first mover advantage and economy of scale. I am not sure of the exact percentage of review fee that goes to reviewers, but I seem to remember it was much more than 50%.
Pay Per Post is very much automated, providing reviewers with exact link code – they even handle fine detail such as rotation of anchor text and destination URL, and for those looking for more precise data, they have tracking of review page views and click-through tracking using redirects.
They have some great concepts of their own such as their “Review My Post” affiliate program, which pays out to both the affiliate and the reviewer. (see my comment section and get paid to review this post)
ReviewMe – I believe it is a very similar program in intentions to Sponsored Reviews. They recently introduced a way for reviewers to set their own prices which was desperately needed for sites like mine that do extensive reviews rather than short buzz articles. They take a slightly bigger cut of the pie (50%) and pay on a monthly basis. They do however have an affiliate program for signing up new advertisers, but that is a one-off payment.
They have an advantage over Sponsored Reviews because they have been on the market longer, but whilst this is only a guess, I would think both services have a lot of work cut out to catch Pay Per Post for the mass market.
It wouldn’t require rocket science for ReviewMe to add the features that currently differentiate them from Sponsored Reviews, such as the negotiation of fees, although a pricing change might be harder to stomach.
Get Reviewed At ReviewMe!
If I am promoting someone to buy a review from my site, it has now become a very hard choice.
- Sponsored Reviews offers me a bigger cut
- Sponsored Reviews potentially pays me faster
- Sponsored Reviews provides some level of negotiation
- Sponsored Reviews allows me to look for reviews
It is hard for me to judge the difference in quality of landing page and the “feel” an advertiser would have working with each company.
If I am receiving review requests, it doesn’t matter which service provides them. Both companies have their own existing client relationships from selling text links – it is going to be interesting.
Affiliate Program and Mind Share
A lot will come down to the affiliate program offerings.
Affiliates will want (to make a difference)
- Income from Advertisers
- Income from New Publishers
- Recurring Income
ReviewMe currently offer $25 fixed payment for a signup – that isn’t too bad for a CPA program, but I am a greedy affiliate who likes recurring income.
ReviewMe have a lot more of the pie available to share out if they wanted to. Giving out 15-20% of the income on a recurring basis for new sign ups, either Advertisers or Publishers would be quite painful for Sponsored Reviews, but I have a feeling they could still reciprocate, and with the sums of money involved for the higher priced reviews, it would still be profitable for both.
With potentially more than half my audience having already heard of ReviewMe and signed up, Sponsored Reviews seems like the better program to promote for site reviews currently.
So if you want a product reviewed, here is my Sponsored Reviews page.
Yes I wish it was an affiliate link, but it is more of a win/win thing with the advertisers. Customer satisfaction is important, as long as they know they can’t buy my opinion.
Flexibility and negotiation in pricing owns – give it a try.