Marqui Monetizes Blogosphere

Globe and Mail has a thoughtful piece on the emerging trend whereby bloggers are paid to pimp a product. To me this new activity is another form of paid word-of-mouth; therefore, it presents some issues worthy of further investigation and contemplation.
Vancouver, BC content management company, Marqui, is currently offering $800/month to a select group of bloggers who agree to mention Marqui on their media properties, or blogs. Marqui lists the bloggers on their site, so they’re getting the transparency thing right.
Marqui.gif
Marqui’s CEO, Stephen King knows it has to be fully transparent to be taken seriously. Marqui promises to pay even if bloggers say bad things about the company and its services. “I think this is extremely risky,” Mr. King says. “In a traditional marketing sense, what you try to do is control your message. And what we’re saying is that the world’s changed and a company with integrity has to go out there and let the world discuss its products.”
I agree with King’s sentiments whole-heartedly. It’s the execution that concerns me. A better executional idea might be to let these bloggers contribute to Marqui’s blog.

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan in the Pacific Northwest. Brand builder at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Believer in Gossage, Bernbach and Clow. Doer of the things written about herein.

  • http://www.johndumbrille.blogspot.com John Dumbrille

    Not sure what to say about this, either way Marqui just got HUGE publicity by doing this. Probably more than 800 x 18 dollars worth this month, if you can measure such thingg.
    At least this way Marqui can eavesdrop on what’s being said about their product, they may even be able to pursuade the blogger to back off excessive negative criticism – I’m reminded of the movie Network -how Howard Beakle was persuaded that he’d upset the forces of nature.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    Reports indicate Marqui is prepared to spend $180,000 on this experiment. Canadian dollars, I presume.
    At any rate, it’s a healthy PR budget, and I totally concur with John, this is an excellent publicity stunt, at the very least.

  • http://forwardmarkets.typepad.com MarkN

    Pay bloggers to pimp or buy a 30 second Super Bowl spot. Decisions, decisions.
    How about offering *customers* a discount if they blog about you, for better or worse?

  • http://evelynrodriguez.typepad.com Evelyn Rodriguez

    I thought it was an interesting enough experiment to participate…I’m in for the next round starting in March. If it were purely paid product placement I’d be against it. I really wanted the first-hand knowledge in order to really assess the program and process.
    Marqui’s VP of Marketing says she sees this experiment as paying the “next-generation of analysts” (industry analysts are at least common industry standard in technology/I.T.) for their feedback and offering their viewpoints. Thus, they aren’t just merely buying visibility, but also a bit of an advisory focus group. And like independent research analyst firms do, providing a (presumably) unbiased opinion. An analyst’s priority is to the end-user (here, a reader), not the vendor (although it is always a slippery slope).
    One thing I disagree with is the idea of extra incentives – for providing developer or sales leads – which I think would tend to sway the opinions.
    Imagine if there was a directory/inventory of thousands of products/services offering blogger’s payment for their “reviews” (whether they reveal the good, the bad, or the ugly), now the blogger could choose if any of these were of interest to their readership and themselves – and this starts to be much more interesting to me than pure advertising which is the solely the vendor’s message. Frankly, I’d rather have a dialogue with a company and contribute my thoughts to the direction of the product than just merely provide real estate for their billboard.
    Blogs have been called participatory media – well, I’m curious what participatory marketing would look like.

  • http://adpulp.com David Burn

    Participatory marketing. Nice wordsmithing, Evelyn.
    It’s coming, what you wonder about. I think there’s a lot of excitement in several quarters about what this participatory will look like and feel like, as well as what it might mean for the consumer and the brand.
    With some brave marketers like GM already in, I think we’re about to find out.