I’m going to make this one very simple, and will start with comparison. When people pay a psychic reader to tell their future they usually have mixed feelings: on one hand, they want to know the truth, on the other hand they want to hear only the positive truth.
When brands pay bloggers to write reviews for their products they hope to hear the same positive truth. When a blogger doesn’t like the product he got paid to review he/she has two choices:
1. To write a positive review and lie to the readers.
2. To write a negative review and disappoint the sponsor.
You might argue and say brands are willing to take the risk of a negative review when they approach bloggers. I would argue that no one would want pay a blogger to critique their product in front of thousands of loyal readers. If brands wanted to get a honest critique for their product they would pay people for anonymous surveys and private focus groups, never in public on a popular blog.
Paid reviews seem to be the most common shortcut in online marketing today, and according to many will only grow in the current economic environment. In my future posts, I will share my point of view on how brands could work with bloggers in a way that will not compromise ethics as well as allow bloggers to make revenue from these relationships (sponsored coverage, events, contests, giveaways, advertorials, and more). Meanwhile, here is the latest discussion from Forrester Research Senior Analyst Jeremiah Owyang on How To Make Sponsored Conversations Work.