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You thought PayPerPost was bad? April 11, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in blogosphere, Economy & Business, Japan.

Following up on a post I wrote last November….

CyberBuzz (which I wrote about in the previous post) says they activities are twofold:

  • Advertising focussed on CGM
  • Word of Mouth marketing facilitation

CyberBuzz is an astroturfing agent, plain and simple.

Advertising focussed on CGM? I think they mean Consumer Generated Advertising. Paid shilling.

From their terms of service:

第12条 (禁止事項)

1. 会員は、本サービスの利用に当たって、以下各号の行為又はそのおそれがある行為を行ってはならないものとします。

Article 12 (Prohibitions)

12.1 Members must not:

12.1(1)….Publicize payments received….

So, an astroturfing shop which explicitly bans users from disclosing that they are paid to post. This must surely be worse than Pay Per Post….

CyberBuzz is a 100% owned subsidiary of CyberAgent, which is listed on TSE MOTHERS. It this kind of lack of judgement which gives the internet bubble “successes” a bad name (not to mention the ethical bankrupcy inherent in pretending to be “consumer generated media”). Some people might remember that CyberAgent got blacklisted by Google last March because of their questionable SEO practices.

My previous post mentioned another shill agent called Blomotion, at least that service requires users to display a Blomotion banner on their blog to progress to the more lucrative compensation levels, although personally I wouldn’t settle for anything less than a per post disclosure policy being mandatory for word of mouth “advertising”. I see that CyberAgent and its corporate VC subsidiary are also shareholders in Mobile Factory, who operate Blomotion. Coincidence?

If PayPerPost had stipulated that they required users to keep the financial relationship secret, I wonder how big the whole fuss would have become.

But this is Japan, where the media and advertisers are joined at the hip (mediated by the advertising agencies, of course) so I doubt much of a fuss is going to be made even if this issue become more prominent.

Addendum: I was looking at the Blomotion sign-up page where they have a link to tutorial pages with screenshots of the UI (CyberBuzz is a bit more secretive/user unfriendly). What was interesting was that they have screenshots of how to post a shill post. Requirements include number of words, topics to write about, linking, etc, but most interesting was that they had a “how to tag(link)” tutorial, which shows that the html which users are requested to insert a link to the advertiser, and an image file used for tracking purposes. The image file (http://pv.blomotion.jp/img/pv/entry-pv.gif) is a 1x1pixel transparent (and therefore invisible) image. I had thought that maybe they were using an affiliate advertising like link but this way (which is used often used for cookie tracking), using a direct link to the advertiser’s site, the advertiser gets inbound link love which may in fact be more valuable to them in the long term by boosting their search engine rank than clickthrough traffic that comes to them via the shill post.

I think I like this model even less now, with the smell of dubious SEO practices in the air. I have a strong suspicion that the shill posters may be being misled as to the value the posters are providing (or at least being told only part of the story).



1. Ken - April 18, 2007

But this is Japan, where the media and advertisers are joined at the hip

I agree about there not being much of a fuss. I had a (foreign) client worry about having their company’s name on their blog in Japan because it might seem too ‘cynical’ or ‘obvious marketing’ to users. Had to take some time to explain that quite the opposite is true…the company name means it’s a legit source and thus actually trustworthy.

Ahh…I’ve never heard インディークレッド in katakana, maybe for a reason?

2. Gen Kanai - April 18, 2007

Let’s see what the 2ch crowd does with these guys.

Google also will not stand for any of this kind of stuff. Anything that smells of fraudulent links or clicks will be banned from Google.


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