Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ethics, Effective Advertising and PayPerPost.

Your Pay Per Post assignment, should you choose to accept it: Hang a post on the following link:
word of mouth ethics

This AM I needed a break from all the depressing, disturbing and outrageous nonsense from Washington, and I knew if I checked my email, my stumbleupon or my clipmarks, I'd be up to my earlobes in bile by noon. Well, what to do, what to do? Well, I hadn't taken PayPerPost assignment for a few days, and if I'm not safe from politics there, I won't be safe anywhere!

So I went looking for an opportunity that was worthwhile and decided to check out the latest PayPerPost sponsored opportunity because it offered me twenty bucks for my time. Hey, I'm a Libertarian - I don't have to pretend that money isn't important to me. Twenty bucks is a nice way to start the day.

But, since I'm not a Republican, I can also admit that there are a few things I won't do for money. Indeed, the idea that the ethics of all things, matters is the essence of "the party of principle." Of course, that's also where the arguments start. So when required link was, word of mouth ethics, I knew this was my assignment.

I'm an ethics blogger and I've written a lot of advertising copy over the years in many capacities. So, this is, like, an expert opinion. (I have a briefcase somewhere, and I'm almost certainly from out of town.)

home: advertisers : code of ethics

Disclosure is Required

We believe it is essential to maintain transparency about the relationship between advertisers, bloggers and blog readers. Bloggers that accept payment for reviewing or promoting your product or service must adhere to PayPerPost's strict policy on disclosure. This policy is intended to protect both the blogger and your company from giving anyone the impression of a conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety. To that end, we have created tools such as "Disclosure Badges" and a "Disclosure Policy Generator" to help the bloggers inform their readers.

There's more, and you should read it if you are at all interested in becoming a PayPerPost advertiser or a "Postie", a blogger who helps support their site with paid posts. But right now I'm speaking to advertisers, and why you should always, always, always use the disclosure badge found at the bottom of this post.

As illustrated by the graphic, that disclosure badge creates a popover that speaks about your company. There are two very good reasons for doing this:

Our disclosure requirements are designed to comply with FTC regulations that state: "When there exists a connection between the endorser and the seller of the advertised product which might materially affect the weight or credibility of the endorsement (i.e., the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience) such connection must be fully disclosed." As an advertiser it is your responsibility to make sure each post meets this FTC requirement. The easiest way to do that is to require each post to contain a Disclosure Badge, a feature that is provided at no extra charge to advertisers. If you ever feel that a blogger hasn't adequately disclosed we request that you flag that post in our system and send it to our review team.
The second reason should be obvious: It provides a link to a goodly amount of copy and a graphic that's entirely under your control, and is consistent across your entire PayPerPost campaign. Anywhere else, you'd be charged boucoup bucks for this. Heck, it's larger than most banner ads! So you benefit both from the individual perspective of the blogger and direct speech about your company to the consumer.

But enough about why it's "beneficial" to you. It's ethical, because it's honest, factual information about your company and if you have not yet figured out that honest people prosper in business in the long term, I probably don't want to be associating my name with yours.

I am an honest, ethical person and I disclose all paid opportunities that I take. I don't take all that are offered to me, either. They have to fit my blog, my interests and my sense of personal ethics. So while it's up to the advertiser as to whether to use the disclosure badge, I much prefer ads that do, because that tells me - and my readers - something about their sense of ethics.

As to my sense of ethics; well, all I had to do to get the $20 bucks was 200 words of gush about PPP. There's a lot more than that here, and that seems pretty typical across the board, looking at random examples of PPP entries on other blogs. My philosophy for something like this amounts to "Full measure, pressed down and running over." In parallel, I also want a post that is, in fact, a post, something worth signing MY name to, and again, I think you will find that to be the case with most other Posties. Feel free to bench or ban any bloggers that don't meet your standards!

But by the same token, I want an offer that inspires me. I'll take a five dollar assignment over a ten dollar one if the five dollar offer is interesting and gives me something that inspires something worth sayings. Give me a little more than "fifty words about BlaCo's kool IM plugins." Give me some ideas, give me links to pictures of your product or service - the more the better. Tell ME why I should bother visiting. And have the humility to accept posts that are honest reactions; don't restrict posties to purely positive posts. What you lose in positive mention, you will gain in expert, motivated feedback. That's worth a lot more than five or ten bucks.

One final note; I've said it before, but I'll say it again. PPP's list of opportunities is a gold mine for bloggers, even when they are opportunities they are not qualified for. Buzz is buzz, and you can find that anywhere, but I've always considered advertisements, and where they are placed to be a vital clue to emerging issues and ideas. So I keep checking.

And meanwhile, the money rolls onto my PayPal debit card, which is building up a nice little balance. What am I going to do with that? Well, whisky, cigars and good books are always on my mind. And I could use some new t-shirts too!

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