Izea, the controversial company formerly called Pay Per Post, is well-known for paying bloggers to post articles about products. These "sponsored conversations" have had big-name advertisers like K-Mart and Sears funding the campaigns as well as big-name bloggers like Chris Brogan and Julia Roy writing paid articles. Despite the fact that many participants fully disclose their involvement when writing a sponsored post, Izea still has quite a few critics thanks to the bloggers who do not.
Now those critics will have something else to get up-in-arms about: Izea is planning a launch of a new ad platform called "Sponsored Tweets." And just like it sounds, this new spinoff will pay people to tweet.
According to an article on AdWeek, the Sponsored Tweets Twitter ad platform is set to launch in about a month, or so says Izea CEO, Ted Murphy. Already, the company has run promotions on Twitter like this one for Blockbuster where all the posts are marked with a #spon hashtag indicating the post is a paid tweet. Once launched, the Sponsored Tweets program will follow a similar course.
Murphy believes the community will be self-policing and the sponsored messages won't get out-of-hand since too many paid tweets could easily alienate a Twitter user's followers. And because some campaigns will pay based on the number of clicks a link receives, that's not something the pay-per-tweet participants would want to risk. (Other campaigns will pay a flat rate per tweet).
Izea isn't the only company using Twitter as an ad platform - the pay-per-tweet service Magpie has also been running campaigns for some time. However, on Magpie the companies whose sponsored messages were being tweeted out weren't necessarily the ones buying the ads - it was outside affiliates. Of course, that only came to light after we revealed some of the participating company names in a blog post back in April. Still, the set up there is arguably much more spammy than with Izea who plans to work directly with advertisers.
The only question now is how big will the backlash be this time around? Is this a better or worse idea than paid blog posts? Will you immediately unfollow anyone whose posted a tweet tagged #spon? Or only if they go overboard? Share your thoughts in the comments.