Yesterday, while stumbling around the web, I happened across a blog advertising a peculiar service. For $250 this site would review whatever it was that you wanted to have reviewed. Well, that got me curious. I started poking around, and soon discovered that this particular site was part of a network managed by Review Me dotcom. I didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the several blogs listed as Review Me associates, but, from what I could tell, the site that first caught my attention was a bit of an anomaly. Most member sites weren’t so up front about the fact that their reviews were available for purchase… I suspect that most companies find out about the opportunities, not through the blogs themselves, but through the Review Me site, which profiles each of their members, giving the number of readers in their audience, and naming the price for which you can start generating that much sought after “Viral Buzz.”
Some of the participating “whore blogs” mention in small print, at the very end of the review you’ve just read, that it was a “paid review.” Some just say that it’s a “sponsored post,” without mentioning that the sponsor is the company selling whatever the product is that they’re reviewing. I suspect that some don’t mention it at all, but I haven’t dug around enough yet to confirm that hunch. Regardless, the practice seems more than just a bit deceptive to me, no matter what the Review Me FAQ says…. Here’s a clip from said FAQ:
CAN I REQUIRE A POSITIVE REVIEW?
We do not allow advertisers to require a positive review. The vast majority of reviews are measuredly positive, although many do contain constructive criticism. We view this as a bonus: how else can you quickly and cheaply get feedback on a product or service from influencers?
WHAT IS THE PRICING MODEL FOR REVIEWS?
Reviews are priced as a one time fee per review from each individual blog. Price is determined by the reach that the blog has. The more reach the higher the price. Reviews range from $40 to $500 per review, this is a one time fee per review.
(Of that fee, only $20 to $200, I’ve learned, goes to the blogger. The rest goes to Review Me for their digital pimping services.)
So, guess what I’ve decided to do? I’m going to register for a Review Me account and put myself out there on the cyber street corner for corporate Johns to check out. And, assuming one rolls up, lowers his window, and makes me an offer, I’m going to give a completely honest review of his product that mentions the financial arrangement up front and doesn’t spare any criticism… I know the folks at Review Me say that they don’t force their sites to write good reviews, but I wonder how long they’ll keep me in their stable once I start focusing on the not so flattering aspects of the products I’m paid to review. My guess is, not too long… I’ll keep you posted.