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ReviewMe adds Advertorials – My First Impressions

Posted By Darren Rowse 12th of July 2007 Advertising 0 Comments

AdvertorialsIt looks like ReviewMe is adding another product to their range – this time it’s Advertorials.

On their Advertisers page they share what they are:

  • You can browse our marketplace of top blogs and choose the blogs to run your message which you remain in full control over.
  • Advertorials also feature full impression and click tracking so you can measure your return on investment.
  • Advertorials are a great way to generate buzz and traffic while controlling the message and measuring your results!

They don’t seen to have officially announced it yet but what it seems like is that instead of the blogger writing the review – advertorials have more input by the advertiser. I’m hoping that they’ll be marked/disclosed as such (as they require for reviews).

OK – so as a blogger, would you use this type of service?

I’ve always had mixed thoughts on review posts. I think if they are on topic, genuine and disclosed they are one option to explore as a blogger – as long as you don’t become obsessed by posting too many of them and as long as they give actual useful information to your readers (and realize that for some readers they can be a turn off).

I personally don’t do paid reviews because I don’t want to put myself in that kind of position with my readers – however some bloggers seem to be doing well with them.

With advertorials I’m feeling similar thoughts – although am probably even further away from running them on my own blogs than running paid reviews. While I guess ReviewMe will give bloggers full control of whether an advertorial is placed on their blog (after seeing the copy) I think there are a couple of downsides to this as a blogger wanting to develop a community and relationships with readers:

  • Disruption of Style/Voice – one of the potential downsides is that the voice that advertorials are written in could well be different to the voice that you write your blog on. I guess this will be a case by case thing that bloggers need to assess – but most advertorials that I read in newspapers and magazines have a certain kind of ‘spin’ on them. I guess to be fair that this disruption of voice is similar to when you put a guest post up on your blog.
  • Loss of Balance – the point of an advertorial is to sell something. Whether it be a product, brand or service – an advertorial is an advertisement of some sort and as a result it is not generally a balanced exploration of the pros and cons of that service. Is this what your blog is about – this is a call that a blogger will need to make for themselves.

I’m not about to reject the idea of an advertorial completely for all blogs – but I would suggest bloggers think carefully about running them or not (as I would encourage bloggers to do with any type of ad on their blog. Remember that everything that goes up on your blog either adds to or takes away from how readers perceive it – particularly those things that appear in the content areas of your blog.

They are my initial thoughts, having not seen many details of what the service entails. What do you think about advertorials on blogs?

PS: one last question that I have about this – will advertorials be unique from blog to blog? Seeing the same advertorial numerous times around a niche could become annoying to readers but also could have implications when it comes to SEO both of the advertiser and blogger – ie duplicate content. Knowing the smart SEO types behind ReviewMe I suspect they’ve given this some consideration and will be interested to see what they’ve come up with.

Update: Thanks to Patrick from ReviewMe who has made the following clarifications for us:

– all links within Advertorials are redirects, no direct links (this means they have no SEO benefit)
– all Advertorials BY DEFAULT are clearly marked at the beginning of the post as a “SPONSOR POST:” (good on the disclosure front).

Here in Australia if an article is an advertiorial they are actually marked with that word – I wonder whether this might be something to consider or stop confusion with readers wondering if it’s actually written by the blogger themselves. While I’m happy they are disclosing I think it worth pointing out to readers that a blogger did not write the post for fear of it being confused with a paid review that readers might think is unbiased. Just my two cents worth.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. At best, they’re an insult to your readers. At worst, they’re downright deceptive. Even marked as an advertisement, they’ll have the same visual layout as a regular article, have a comments section, and show up in the feed as a unique article.

    Consider print advertorials. Now pretend that they are listed in the table of contents of the magazine, or teased on the front page with newspapers. Now pretend that they say “By Authorname”, where “Authorname” is the same person who writes legitimate articles in the publication. Not pretend that they look exactly like regular articles. Not close — exactly the same. Now pretend that the publication sends out the advertorials over a news wire along with all its real stories.

    Would you read such a publication? Would you value its content?

  2. Hm…
    It’s a good idea – and has great potential. However, I see a few flaws.

    First of all, like you said, the ads could be written in a totally differant way than how your blog is written. That would create a clash of text – and clashes of any type are rarely good.

    Secondly, if you placed advertorials on your site, you would have no controll of the text. You never do, but this format could create a problem. If an advertizer can change the text (and link?) at will, the advertizer could add inapropriate content, bash your blog, or any number of other similar mini-evils.

    The best fix for those two problems would be to create an approval and/or contact service between the blogger and the advertizer. That way, the blogger could advize the advertizer on how to write the ads – thus allowing the two to communicate on how to best write the add – for the blogger and advertizer.
    The approval service would allow the blogger to say no to anything explicit, bad, etc.

    Again, like I said, it has great potential for creating web advertizing 2.0 – but needs some fine tuning.
    Even so, it is probably a better option as opposed to AdSense or Text-Link-Ads.

    But I’m no expert.

  3. Hmmm… I was happy to see that they identify it as a sponsor post. I also like that the blogger can control what advertorials they accept (very important to me). I think this is another variation on what some bloggers are already doing. I often see the words “this post was sponsored by XYZ company followed by a link to XYZ company” after a post.

    It seems blogging is becoming more and more like commercial media which relies on advertisement for funding.

  4. Even coming from a company that has seriously considered some of ReviewMe’s services, I don’t think that advertorials are a great idea.

    If there is no SEO improvement, and the blogger isn’t allowed to have their own opinion, then what is the benefit?

    With a normal ReviewMe blog post, the blogger still has some flexibility because they aren’t forced to write a positive review. So at the end of the day, that blogger is still saying this is a good product (if, they do in fact like your product).

    With the advertorials, the blogger controls almost nothing. So the blog isn’t endorsing anything – it becomes less testimonial and more blatant ad copy. I think everyone will agree that testimonials are more useful than more sales copy.

    Just my thoughts,

    – Mason

  5. I do paid reviews for ReviewMe, other review-brokers, and direct-to-advertiser.

    Several weeks ago I read (I wish I could remember where!) someone make the argument that they would prefer to see a pure advertorial than a review written by the blogger. Then, it is understood that the blogger has merely sold some real estate and the post is not indicative of the bloggers opinions. The argument boiled down to the reader giving the Advertorial the same weight as a banner ad.

    I don’t think they’re insulting nor deceptive. Advertorials are used in every medium and only the most dense individuals have trouble recognizing them. If they’re clearly marked and presented as such, an argument can be made that they are PREFERABLE to a review written by the blogger.


  6. I have done two reviewme sponsored posts for a whopping total of $10, but choose to do so since I could word the “advertisement” and I could choose the advertiser. I will not be using this new scheme in my blog, that’s for sure. There are enough venues for traditional ads embedded or linked to blogging. It seems like the advertisers did not like what was being written and choose to make it easier for the publisher by writing it themselves.
    I’m done with ReviewMe, as soon as I get my ten bucks;}

    Be well and enjoy the day.

    Support Progressive Change

  7. I used to write advertorial articles for a national magazine that had regional editions all over the U.S. The secret to doing them well was to write them as reader-service pieces: for example, describe a problem in the advertiser’s industry, and hold up the advertiser as a company that had a solution to that problem. Discuss the problem and the solution, not just the company. These articles can be very good pieces – I have a few that I’m extremely proud of, because the editor, the advertiser and I all felt they really hit the mark of being informative rather than just ads in article format. So I’m not opposed at all to the concept of advertorial articles, as long as they are crafted to be beneficial to the reader in some way.

    That said, the two specific problems you mention are, I think, extremely important. I don’t like the idea of having no control over the content of the article, and my blog would hardly be unique if the same piece appeared on many blogs.

  8. I thought the whole point of having a blog is so that you can control the content, how is that going to be effective at all? Sounds awfully deceptive way to make money and if you want to run advertisements on the side, fine but on actual content. Ugggghhhh just makes me sick just to think about it. If someone were to actually use this.. I would love all respect for that blogger and would probably never visit the blog again. Why? Because I visit a blog to get an unique perspective of the blogger, I am giving away my precious time to check out the blog and maybe leave a comment, and then I see an pure advertisement as content, I would be highly insulted. Not only did the blogger waste my time but also sold out his readers to make a quick buck. Now, if the blogger posted that every Wednesday is advertisement day, then I would know not to visit the blog on that day.. I guess that would make the advertisement ineffective then. :)

  9. Sorry… lose, not love… makes more sense now

  10. I have done the ‘occasional’ review-me when it has been completely on topic and something I wanted to talk about or spread the message on, it then becomes another stream of blog post ideas – the money is just a bonus. It’s just not worth selling out for $10, $20, $30 in my opinion, not when you look at the amount of hours you put into a blog.

    I can’t see me ever using the advertorial system, I don’t think it adds any benefit to my blog or the readers.

  11. Completely agree with Susie here. Most blogs are very personality based. To have a disruption of that voice, and of that singular control over content is a bit much.

    That’s not to say that this is not going to be a hugely successful idea. I don’t even like advertorial content in print so the change of medium is unlikely to change my mind about them. I think advertorials are generally painful to read and stilted in their “friendly” writing. Most of them sound like your socially-conscious long-lost relatives who are talking down to you and somehow trying to be over friendly in their attempts to make it seem like we’ve known each other a long time and are one big happy family. I’m sure everyone knows what I mean.

    So in case it hasn’t come through, no, I’m not a huge fan of this idea. And I don’t think it will fit well into many blogs, except maybe a small minority of marketing laden blogs whose identity is seeped with the heavy marketing already.

    But what do I know? I’m not making enough online moolah, and/or I’m not willing to fake enough figures to be a “internet marketing guru” and sell you all the secrets of the universe, after having to plough through a 30 page long landing page, for &399 only. Hurry and place your order now because the price doubles in 12 hours 52 minutes and 13 seconds. See you at the bank. :)

  12. I personally do have a few sponsored posts on my blog, but I only select advertisers that are actually useful to my readers and write a full article about the problem they solve. These are very limited so I don´t lose too many readers.

    However, I think this whole idea of the publisher writing the ad copy is just a bad idea. Some of them may offer half-decent content, but let´s face it, most readers dislike it when you post a sponsored review, most are not impressed with guest bloggers, imagine combining the two?

  13. I received an email from ReviewMe this morning about the service. It states:

    For Advertisers: You control the message. Enter up to 250 words including links back to your website and also an image of your choice.

    For Publishers: Less work. Simply cut and paste our code into your blog.

    Sounds like a lot of duplicate content to me!

  14. I saw that in my inbox this morning, and honestly I was turned off by it, like Colleen I saw it being duplicate content I’m wondering how that would be viewed?

    My other concern is what you’ve already mentioned the “disruption of style/voice.” What if I don’t like what was said within the review am I able to reject it? I’ve been searching for a guest blogger for a little while, and it’s taking time because I need to find the right fit for my blog it doesn’t seem like I would have control of that with this new feature. I imagine it will be a good fit for some blogs but I know it won’t work well with mine.

    I occasionally write for paid for post companies when I see something I’m interested in for example, my last review was about Macintosh rentals and I leaped at it since I own a MacBook Pro and I I’ve wondered what I would do if something happened to mine. I’ve talked about my Mac a few times on my blog.

    Occasionally I’ve written about things my readers are interested in, for example, I wrote a review about an online scrapbooking service (I picked up a lot about scrapbooking just by visiting their websites) and I actually became interested in scrapbooking by constantly visiting their websites. My posts are clearly marked “This is a sponsored post” right at the top. I had it at the bottom, but I quickly changed it since I didn’t want my readers to feel “tricked” into reading a paid review.

    I’m trying to build a strong community, and I don’t want to go that route by posting lots of paid reviews about topics I could care less about. I’ve seen that happen on a few blogs lots of paid content but very little real posting going on. A few of my blog pals actually wondered why there regulars had stopped commenting? I was one of them that left. I didn’t want to, but it became annoying scrolling through the mind numbing number of posts they put out daily only to find that the majority was paid reviews. I think they crossed over the line, and it turned off their readers. I still communicate with them but its through email.

    I know this service would not go over well with my readers so I won’t use it.

  15. I’ve been doing my own advertorials for a couple of years and they have the most ROI for my sponsors. They are always identified as advertisements so my readers don’t feel deceived. The advertisers write the copy but they try to do it in our style so it doesn’t scream AD.

    I haven’t done paid reviews because I feel they are more disingenuous than advertorials. I feel that our readers would think that a paid review isn’t honest because we are getting paid for it, even if we mentioned some negative points. We do unpaid reviews and our readers really appreciate them because they are completely candid (though we don’t post reviews for products we don’t recommend).

    Our readers do complain when we have too many advertorials, but in general, I think they do appreciate them because they learn about new products and services (especially because the companies that buy advertorials tend to be small and relatively unknown). And we only accept advertorials (and all ads, really) from companies we believe are relevant to our readers.

    In the future, I may consider doing paid reviews of other gossip sites but I would really have to take it slow and rely on user feedback.

  16. This is not something I’d be particularly interested in, for essentially the same reasons that you’ve listed, Darren. I also think that Mark has made some very good points.

    Even being marked as “Sponsor Post” doesn’t necessarily make it clear that it was written by the sponsor, rather than simply paid for by them (but written by the regular author, as with “traditional” paid review posts).

    I suppose, as long as it is made very clear that the regular blog author did not write this, it might be a viable business model for some blogs. Personally, though, I don’t think I’d ever run advertorials on any of my blogs.

  17. I don’t see my blogs should be any different from magazines. As long as it is properly disclosed and outlined, I don’t see any problem with it.

  18. I actually do something similar for another site and I really enjoy them. they usually pay about 5 dollars an add and there incredibly simple and it takes about 10 seconds or less to do the whole thing. I’ll take 5 bucks for 10 seconds worth of work any day

  19. As silly as this sounds (due to me already writing ReviewMe post myself) I just don’t like the idea of words appearing on my blog that aren’t my own.

    Despite feeling like a complete shill when I do post a ReviewMe entry, I at least try and make it fit my blog topic and it’s written by my own fair hand.

    I simply do not like the idea of someone else writing my blog for me…

  20. chelle says: 08/09/2007 at 5:21 pm

    that’s just right…as a blogger, a lots of things we could consider especially in handling our own perspectives and ideas…of course, if i’ll be the main character of the blog, i should be the one to write…i just remember when i had p0st a link to my favorite forum car site…i loved my cars, and one thing is that i always tell anything about cars…even when it had troubles…im happy being a writer, and P.S. thanks to window motor canada..i had motor installation on my car just last week.

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