Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sponsored Conversations

Analyst firm Forrester published a report this morning telling corporations that it's a good idea to engage bloggers in "sponsored conversations," or the exchange of goods or credit in exchange for blog coverage. The report, titled "Add Sponsored Conversations to Your Toolbox", is 8 pages long, focuses on a number of high profile examples like the case of KMart and Chris Brogan, and sells for $795.

We respectfully disagree with Forrester's recommendations on this topic. In fact, we think that paying bloggers to write about your company is a dangerous and unsavory path for new media and advertisers to go down. We recognize that it's a complicated question, but we don't feel convinced by Forrester's conclusions regarding those complications.

Forrester is Wrong About Paying Bloggers

Forrester is promoting a very dangerous idea. It is a good short term way for bloggers to make money but, if abused, will in the long run diminish the value of the blogosphere. The flip-side to this argument is that there is a lot of pay-to-play in the print media (you buy this ad I write an article about you) and few people question the validity of print media.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Yelp is Having Problems

Yelp continues to have problems. They have an algorithm that purportedly decides which reviews are displayed and which are removed, and yet there is something not right about Yelp. I'm not the only one who has noticed that there are many "obviously" fake reviews and there is a lot of annecdotal evidence that if one buys advertising bad reviews can be removed. I have not experienced that but I have heard many first hand complaints.

According to Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp's CEO: "It's normal for a merchant to see the number of its reviews rise or fall from day to day, and for reviews to mysteriously disappear." "That's normal. It's part of how Yelp works," he said. The reason we do that is to show only the most trusted content. It's nothing nefarious.

"The timing of reviews that appear or disappear after a merchant accepts or declines an advertising contract is purely coincidental, Stoppelman said. He acknowledged that there can be false positives, in which legitimate reviews are removed.:

Yelp's credibility problem: Blame it on algorithm?