Put A Price On Your Blog

In God we trust… All others, pay cash

What was meant to be a slight rant against so-called “blogger sellout” has gained momentum as of yesterday – in both cases had has provided the fodder πŸ˜€

Perhaps one should not be surprised that issues of bloggers’ copyrights and marketing have begun to surface. Until now bloggers have been mostly on the other side of the stick – accused of infringing copyright rather than having to defend original content. I guess part of it has to do with the fact that most bloggers swear by Creative Commons – a somewhat elusive and (at least in Slovenia) legally non-existent content.

The other part of course has to do with the fact that blogs bring little or no money.


Let’s deal with the latter issue first – it first surfaced with several bloggers being invited do test-drive the new Renault Twingo and then exploded with full force when Kolosej (a cinema operator) offered free tickets to see Transofrmers – The Movie (insert transforming sound fx here) to bloggers who would have linked to Kolosej’s Transformers page.

The “problem” as I see it is of course the trade-off or lack thereof. Namely: What can a blogger and blog offer? Two things, basically. Content and links. The two are heavily interconnected, as content without links is non-existant and (in terms of this post) worthless, the links, however, cannot be effective without good content.

Now, let’s look at it from the other side: What does Kolosej have to offer. Again, basically two things: Movies and tickets to see them. The trick of course is, that tickets to blockbusters are usually not freely availble because why give them away, when you can sell them at € 4.95 each? So, which tickets do they usually give away en masse? Why, those which they wouldn’t be able to sell in the first place, of course!

So Kolosej was giving away worthless tickets and in return it got the most valuable thing a blogger can provide. I’d call that a ripoff, not a tradeoff.

But let us for a moment presume that bloggers who participated actually wanted to see the movie. Had they not taken up Kolosej’s offer, they’d have to pay for the tickets, naturally. But since they exchanged a link for two tickets, they put a price tag on a link. Since last week the price of a link is 9.9 euros. At least with bloggers who have participated. The problem is that now a precedence has been set. Next time an offer will be made to the blogging community, the price will already have been known.

Thirdly (for those keeping count), there is in my view also a question of ethics. A twofold question, actually.

One: linking as such. If memory serves, that’s called Googlebombing and is not allowed under Google guidelines. BMW even got banned from Google for a while for doing it. Some of us did it to help Michael M.’s solve his problems with a hosting provider, but that was done for a different reason.

Two: Linking without content. That’s even worse than just Googlebombing. Why? Because that’s sort of hidden advertisment. It’s like blogging about vodka and using Absolut font (or something in that manner). If a blogger got freebies on account of his blogging then I think it would be fair and square to publish his judgment of the freebie (a movie in this case). Furthermore, he should make every effort to it as objectively as possible (naturally, a movie review is almost entirely subjective, but still) – meaning that he should not be biased in favour of the movie or the company just because he got the freebie.

I’m not saying that individual bloggers who took the offer are or were in any way biased in favour of the movie or Kolosej, I’m just saying that every effort should be made to show that they are or were not. Otherwise, there can indeed be an impression of a sellout.

And lastly: I’ve no problem with making money out of blogging. I myself sport some google ads on this blog. But whether you like it or not, blogs are media. They are public, even though they more often than not feature personal accounts of events, people, etc.. And in media full disclosure must be made whenever there is even a hint of a conflict of interest. This way the integrity of the author and the media is preserved.


Marketing is of course heavily connected to content. And had raises an extremely valid point when he says that blog-aggregators which display ads or otherwise market their webspace basically make money (if they make money, that is) by re-using contents of numerous individual blogs. To put is in Technicolor: aggregators who will display interesting and/or controvesial blogs and their entries (even just clips) will get more visitors and – by extention – more advertising money. Which is all fine and dandy – except for the fact that aggregators use other people’s work to make money. Which basically does violate bloggers’ copyright.

Of course, if you look at it from the other side, one could very well argue that blogs get more visitors by being featured in blog aggregators. Which is true to a certain point. However, as we all know, aggregators’ admins usually ask bloggers to publish links to
aggregators, which bloggers for the most part do. Call it a barter-deal. A link-exchange. No money involved. Besides. Aggregators need blogs to work – whereas blogs can technically exist without aggregators.

It is all very much like the current debate between Slovene media and this country’s clipping companies. The latter namely process almost all content produced by Slovene media on a daily basis, redistribute this content to their users – and charge them. At least one company (the largest among them) has started to recognise that this does contitute a possible infringement of copyright – precisely because media content is processed and distributed under a different brandname. So rather than wait for an expensive law suit, this company is (half-heartedly) trying to come to an agreement with most of Slovene media (the fact that this company is a part of the largest Slovene PR and marketing group does improve its negotiating positions a bit ;))

So the questions at hand are: what to do when (if) blog aggregators which also use blog’s content (and not just URLs) start making serious euros? Should blog owners be compensated? And if, what approach should be used? Would this concept hurt blog aggregators too much? What (for example) happens to Technorati if they have to compensate each and every blogger? What if aggregators start charging “membership”?

To put it in a nutshell: when money starts flowing around, do we all make a run for it, carving up the pie until there are only crumbs left or do we leave things as they are, each minding our own business?

So, that’s my two eurocents…. Personally, I think that eventually some sort of mechanism will have to be developed – perhaps a combination of the “clipping agreement” and Google’s AdSense. However, this mechanism should unite, rather then divide bloggers and aggregators – meaning that it should promote both good content and unbiased editoral process by agreggators’ admins. I’m not saying that they are biased now, just that noone really cares if they are or not – because there is no money involved. As for the marketing part… The moment readers will feel that a certain blog is favouring marketing against content, its ratings will drop and with it advertising revenue.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

17 thoughts on “Put A Price On Your Blog”

  1. Hmm. My question is would “Kolosej” really be gaining anything by having these blogs link to their Kolosej site? Honestly I would think most people would have already seen an ad for the movie by now on TV or print media, or at the theater during a previous movie. I doubt these links will bring them anymore business. If anything the Kolosej will generate more money off the people the tickets were given to, in exchange for linking. That is if they happen to purchase snacks or food while at the theater. That is how most theaters make their money anyway. Profits for movie theaters from actual ticket sales are very small.

    “Kolosej was giving away worthless tickets” Implying Transformers is a worthless movie how could you Pengovsky!! πŸ˜› Last week it was 1/2 of Les Canadiens bashing Smurfs now this week it’s Transformers. Almost certainly two of the best cartoons from the 80’s and all time! πŸ™‚

    I’m a little distraught…I’m going to have to go now and hopefully sleep off the shock. πŸ˜‰

    P.S. This must be how Michael M feels when the rest of us imply that Natalija Verboten is not that pretty! ;P lol

  2. A valid point on profit from ticket sales… But that is exactly my point: these tickets would have brought little or no profit as it is. This way Kolosej generated links to the site plus possible revenue from snacks and drinks

    As for Transformers being a worthless movie: Well I was indeed implying that, but that’s beside the point (Transformers were never a big hit here, as opposed to the Smurfs :D)

    What I wanted to say really is that Kolosej gave away tickets it would have difficulty selling. They would have made much more of a statement if they gave away tickets to (say) Die Hard 4 (another worthless, even pro-Bush movie) πŸ˜€

    I hope I haven’t caused too much stress and that you slept well πŸ™‚

  3. Good post. And you’ve answered all of your questions πŸ™‚ I think Kolosej pulled off a great publicity stunt. Lots of attention in return for minimal investment. This post and resulting thread being a good example. Any publicity is……
    P, how dare you label Die Hard worthless! It does have two or three moments 😈
    (I humbly admit that I watched Transformers the cartoon regularly. Hindsight not 20-20 as I have no idea why. Then again, I also never played with barbie dolls, but rather with my remote control trucks πŸ˜‰ There’s something terribly attractive about technology.)

    I think it all comes down to WHY people write blogs. I’m seriously interested in the most productive bloggers’ answers to this one. In any case, I’m glad you guys do your stuff so the rest of us can enjoy πŸ˜‰

  4. Thanks! πŸ™‚ I tend to ask question I already now the answers to… Makes me feel smart πŸ˜‰

    Re: Adventures of Officer McLaine: Hehehe πŸ˜› you must admit that it had “war in Iraq” written all over it… And still noone gave free tickets! πŸ˜€

  5. i think i’m some kind involved in this πŸ™‚
    first.. if i look kolosej move through the seo, than i realize, that they give me more, than i would earn from selling pr5 link (nofollow of course)..
    and the second point of this linking think is even better.. a lot of bloggers wrote negative conclusion about happening.. i know that some times even negative commercial is better than no commercial.. but in this case, cause we are in slovenia, is this negative opinion bad for kolosej.. and they didn’t profit any good pr link in that case.. πŸ™‚

  6. Would you care to elaborate? What was it that they gave you and other bloggers in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

    As for negative pr…. Kolosej doesn’t really care about negative PR. They only feature the movies. It’s the distributors who should be worried about bad PR.

  7. Michael N: At last someone understands my pain…

    Peng: A great post; the whole economics behind blogging is quite bizarre and you did a great job putting it together. I wonder if blogging in Slovenia is slowly getting big enough that a lot of these questions are going to get answered very soon.

    Also: I want had as my business manager. Please?

  8. @pengovsky: veliko lazje bo, ce odgovorim v slovenscini.. jaz sem dobil od koloseja 10€ za en post (ce prevrednotim karti), kar je priblizno isto, kot dobim pri http://www.reviewme.com/, kjer pa imajo dolocene pogoje, ki se jih moram drzati..
    jaz nisem v smislu seo dobil nicesar, kot tudi kolosej od mene ni dobil nicesar, razen ene objave..
    je pa dejstvo, da je link iz pr5 strani vreden okrog 20€ mesecno v seo svetu, vendar ce je ta link nofollow, ni vreden nic.. in v tem primeru je bilo slednje.. se pravi, da sem tudi v tem primeru dobil vec, kot bi lahko dobil, ce bi prodajal nofollow link..

    malce ti bom oporekal glede negativnega PR-ja.. ce bi se blogerji zdruzili in naredili tako, kot smo v primeru carniole, potem bi bila stvar precej drugacna.. ampak v konkretnem primeru je bil zame precedens, ki bi lahko spremenil pogled na bloganje v sloveniji.. jeap, strinjam se, da je bil njihov pristop napacen, strinjam se, da je bila cena prenizka, strinjam se, da je bil nacin pogojevanja napacen, vendar je vsaj bil en pristop! to je bilo bolj pomembno, ko sem sam na hitro v tistem trenutku prekalkuliral vse skupaj.. in to iz povsem preprostega razloga.. ce nas opazi nekdo, ki je veliko kot kolosej, kd group, je hudicevo velik in se nekaj premakne na tem podrocju, ni hudic, da se ne bo se kdaj zgodilo kaj na tem podrocju.. ce pa bi vsi mirno ignorirali vso stvar, bi se verjetno tudi samo vprasali, kaj se gremo blogerji.. po eni strani bi radi sluzili, po drugi pa ne bi nic za to naredili.. v bistvu sem par dni pred tem dobil podatek, koliko blogerjev se je prijavilo na blog adremo renderspejsa.. in bil konkretno razocaran.. in zato sem se odlocil da podprem to akcijo.. iz preprostega razloga.. itak se je name zlilo dovolj gnoja, zakaj se ga ne bi se malce πŸ™‚ na kar sem tudi racunal.. ampak nisem zelel, da bi se kdo drug bil vpleten v vso stvar, zato sem bil pobudnik akcije πŸ™‚

    nekje se morajo stvari zaceti spreminjati in dogajati.. al pa samo jada jada jada, nihce nas noce, nihce nas ne jemlje resno πŸ™‚

    @michael: deal πŸ™‚

  9. @had: bom tudi jaz odgovoril v slovenscini: Prosim, mojega posta ne jemlji osebno… Imam pac nekaj pomislekov okoli cele zadeve – reciva temu poklicna deformacija πŸ˜‰ – ampak post je bil predvsem poskus analize, ne pa dekonstrukcije tebe ali kogakoli, ki se je udeleΕΎil “projekta”.

    (switch to english): You’ve raised a couple of very important questions and I guess we should all be grateful for it. It seems to me that we agree on the basics, its just that our conclusions are different. Which is good, isn’t it? πŸ˜€ Thus progress can be made…

    As I wrote a couple of posts ago: none of us are inherntly right…

    Besides – this business with Kolosej is rather trivial in comparison with your yesterday’s post about Drugi svet and other aggregators.

    This can become a true hot potato – much like suits agains bloggers for supposed slander (Ana Jud, Mičo Mrkaič)

  10. se dalec od tega, da bi bilo to vzeto kot osebno.. prav je, da se o teh stvareh govori in pise, ker edino tako, se bo kaj spremenilo.. in vsec mi je, da se nekdo loti analize celega projekta se z drugega vidika.. v koncni fazi si bo res vsak bloger sam postavil ceno.. in ce sem lahko, sem bil vedno pripravljen pomagati.. dokler..

    dejstvo, da se kar nekaj agregatov zivi na vsebini piscev blogov, pa je nekaj povsem drugega.. tudi tukaj bo treba narediti precedens in spremeniti vso stvar.. kdo bo prvi, ki bo ponudil blogerjem deleze zasluzka, pa je veliko vprasanje, ki se bo resevalo se precej casa..

    tudi kaksen bloger, ki se je znasel v kaksni zmanipulirani situaciji, bi se lahko pridruzil ani in micu, pa vendar se je odlocil, da se ne bo ukvarjal s taksnimi stvarmi na taksen nacin πŸ™‚

    i guess that the issues you wrote in your post should concern all blog writers.. and only together, as we were in case of carniola, can make something better for all of us..

    if someone uses my rss feed for displaying it on blog, it’s ok, cause it’s under CC license, but if someone post my posts on commercial site, i will send him a bill with the prices i have on my site..

    and i still wait for the day, that someone will show and give money to bloggers.. for publishing their stories and publishing their pics in conventional media.. πŸ™‚ convergence should be made!

  11. Basically I agree with you that bloggers should be more connected as a community… Because as authors of our content we are already protected by the law – it’s jus a matter of invoking it… If I remember correctly you’ve had a run-in with Slovenske Novice because they re-printed a photo of yours.

    It there were an association protecting your right, you would find it easier to get compensated.

    Covergence? We do that at The Firm™ and let me tell you: it’s mighty difficult πŸ™‚

  12. @Michael M.: Re resolving questions: Are these questions resolved anywhere else? I mean – once you start looking at blogs as intelectual property, a whole new perspective opens up, doesn’t it?

  13. Peng: Not all questions are resolved, but many have been. For example, in the U.S. it’s now fairly common knowledge that blogging can get you in trouble at work or fired, i.e. dooced. And in the U.S., top bloggers have also turned their blogs into serious moneymakers. I mean, if you believe this article, BoingBoing is pulling in more than a million bucks a year. It has serious clout and serious cash behind it. So do most of the other top American bloggers. Instapundit has a bigger audience than many newspapers. That makes defending their intellectual property much easier, I think.

    Here in Slovenia I don’t think anything like this will ever happen. It will always be a fight for scraps and slo-blogs will always be at the mercy of big-time media. Or no?

  14. Saved your comment from oblivion! πŸ˜€

    Technically, it has to do with target audience, of course. With Slovene readership being as conservative as t is, your probably right in thinking that blogs will have a hard time becoming “mainstream”.

    But what I’m even more afraid of is that big marketing firms will see a short-term profit in blogs, start (ab)using them for their own needs and thus forever labeling them as unreliable and biased source of information.

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