Dec 112008
 

It’s not exactly news that I’ve been far from happy with Izea, PayPerPost and SocialSpark for some time now. I actually abandoned writing for them for about two months, but have returned as they’re still one of the most consistent money makers available to me on the web. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse over at Izea.

The last time I wrote about PPP was back in August related to Izea’s love of PageRank and how they’ve further embraced it instead of abandoning it as they had promised when Google attacked the bulk of their bloggers.  It seems good old Ted Murphy has decided that PayPerPost’s original critics were right and it really is all about selling PageRank and text links and actually has nothing to do with quality bloggers writing thoughtful and detailed reviews about products and services.  Why would I say this?  Well, according to Carri Bright (Izea’s Communications Diva)

The good news, though is that as of tomorrow (12.11.08), Tack Rating is no longer going to be a segmentation factor for Opps in PPP. So, while you may still receive a ban (deserved or otherwise) this will no longer affect your ability to take Opps from OTHER advertisers or lower your Tack score.

If you’re unfamiliar with PPPs workings, a ‘tack’ is the rating system advertiser’s have to give feedback on how well the blogger performed their duty when taking the advertiser’s opp (opportunity / sponsored post). Up until now, advertiser’s have been able to require a minimum average tack rating before a blogger could take one of their opps. This system allowed better blogs to (theoretically) rise to the top as an advertiser could require a 4 or 5 tack rating, leaving out all of those who previous advertisers have rated one or two tacks for poor English skills, outright lies, or rule bending.

The system was far from perfect, but was at least based on advertiser input and not the conflicted interest of PPP’s “reviewers” who (according to this ongoing thread) don’t seem very interested in disqualifying low quality blogs or even outright frauds and cheats.  In the past advertisers could allow even the one tack rated sploggers take their opps of they so chose, but now every PPP advertiser is required to let anyone and everyone who manages to game the (seriously broken) PageRank and RealRank systems get paid for linking to their website despite the quality of their writing or ability to follow simple instructions.

Dec 052008
 

Izea, the company behind PayPerPost and SocialSpark like to tout their international status, but non-US bloggers have complained for some time about the dearth of opportunities available to them. Non-English writers have had the very same complaint. The vast majority of sponsored post opportunities require that the blog be written in English, and most target exclusively an American audience.

So, imagine my surprise when I logged in about an hour ago to see the opp pictured above:  ¡Zona Niños!

I’m not really sure what it means or what the opp is about since I don’t read Spanish, but it’s from MEGA Brands, so I’m assuming it’s got something to do with Christmas toys and games.  I’m just excited to see advertisers finally reaching out to non-English bloggers.  Hopefully they’ll get a good enough return on investment to encourage more advertisers to do the same.

Aug 112008
 

Ted Murphy, founder and CEO of IZEA (parent company of paid blogging companies PayPerPost and SocialSpark) despises Google PageRank so much that his company created a competing website metric system called RealRank.  But I’ll allow him to speak for himself…

From a PayPerPost Community Blog post dated November 17, 2007-

Once again Google has proved that PR has little to do with blog traffic, influence or relevance and everything to defending their monopolistic stranglehold on search and online advertising.

[…]

What does this mean for Advertisers?
If you are still using PR as your measure for influence you will be missing out on a lot a great blogs and bloggers. While the general population has maintained their ranking some of our better bloggers have been hit by Google. You may want to consider using Tacks and Alexa instead of PR for future campaigns until we implement RealRank.

[…]

We know that Google PR does not reflect your actual traffic…

From the IZEARanks.com FAQ

PageRank is not based on real traffic, but on what Google perceives as the quality of a website as determined by a link rating algorithm and some cloudy rules. The arbitrary and unpredictable nature of this ranking system has left both bloggers and advertisers longing for accurate statistical measure.

In an IZEA Town Hall Meeting on January 24, 2008-

I can promise you that PR will disappear in the future. Timing depends on how fast we wrap SocialSpark, but we will be removing PR from PPP in favor of other data.

There were many, many more disparaging remarks made about PR by IZEA staffers, but I think you get the point.  As far as IZEA is concerned, PageRank is an essentially useless metric, the only reason they haven’t gotten rid of it yet is because some of their advertisers demand it, and it will be going the way of the horse and buggy as soon as possible.

So, then can someone explain this screenshot to me?

That’s an opportunity at PayPerPost, created by IZEA to advertise PayPerPost, and it is only available to bloggers with a PageRank of 1 or higher, regardless of the website’s RealRank.  If RealRank is so much better than PageRank and IZEA is looking to remove the option to segment blogs by PR, then why are they using it as the only qualifier in their own opps?

May 152008
 

Since I didn’t sleep last night I was refreshing the SocialSpark marketplace with some regularity this morning as the IZEA staff started releasing opportunities. An excellent opp titled “$15,000 Online Video Contest” appeared that seemed perfect for Philaahzophy, so I clicked over to take it only to find that the slots for today had already been taken in the three minutes it took for me to see the listing.

Curious who was so quick on the draw I clicked over to the profiles of the six bloggers who had looked at the opp before me as clearly they were the ones who got the available slots. After looking at their blog demographics I can’t imagine the advertiser, Pandemic Labs, is going to be happy with the results of their first day’s spending. Here are the requirements for the opp-

Min. Words 100

Language English Only

You must also meet at least one of the following: ITK Installed, Top RealRank, Highest Monthly Pageviews, Highest Monthly Visitors, Most Posts Per Day, Most Props, Most Male Traffic, Most Female Traffic, Most U.S. Traffic

The opportunity is to promote a contest on CommercialPitch.com that is only open to U.S. Residents. Let’s take a look at the segmentation created by the advertiser and how those six blogs measure up-

ITK Installed – since this is a requirement to take any sponsored posts at Social Spark I assume that all six blogs have it installed (as do all of the hundreds (if not thousands) of other blogs in the system)

Top RealRank – The RealRank of the six blogs are as follows: 5,288; 5,304; 1,410; 1,524; 525; 671. Two are in the Top 10%, two in the Top 20% and two are not even in the Top 50%

Highest Monthly Pageviews Every one of these blogs has their Pageviews set to private, so I can’t give you actual numbers here, but considering RealRank depends heavily on pageviews I can’t imagine any more than 2 of these blogs are in the Top 10% of Monthly Pageviews.

Highest Monthly Visitors Again, each of these blogs refuses to share its monthly visitors, but I can look at their Visitors/day: 6, 5, 50, 63, 160, and 159. Again only two have any chance of being in the Top 10%.

Most Posts Per Day – I haven’t taken the time to browse enough blogs at SocialSpark to determine what qualifies as high or low in this category, but here are the numbers for the relevant blogs: 0.28, 0, 0, 1.2, 1.26 and 0.

Most Props – again I haven’t done the research to determine how many Props is “a lot”, but the 10th most propped blog currently has 40 according to the leaderboard on the homepage. These bloggs have: 1, -1, -1, 4, -1, and 0. Hard to imagine any of those qualify as “Most Props”, especially the three with negatives.

Most Male Traffic and Most Female Traffic – These two requirementswould seem to cancel each other out, so I’m not really sure what SocialSparek or the advertiser was thinking with this type of segmentation. hence, no further comment.

Most U.S. Traffic – This, in my opinion, is the most important segmentation due to the fact that the contest is only open to legal U.S. residents. let’s see how the six blogs measured up: 8.4% (w/ 85.2% Malaysia), 15.3% (w/ 82% Canada), 32.5% (w/ 22.8% Philippines), 46.2% (w/ 29.5% Malaysia), 36.7% (w/ 33.2% Philippines), and 55.2% (w/ 21.3% Philippines). Only one of the blogs has more than 50% U.S. Traffic and the average (if I’m doing the math correctly) is only 32.3% U.S. Traffic – not exactly a majority considering many blogs in the system have 85% or more U.S. traffic.

Several of these bloggers have more than one blog in the system and I have no way of telling which blog will host the opp, but I chose the one with the most U.S. traffic for each blogger. While I won’t be sharing the names of the bloggers or their blogs here I will tell you that the numbers are in the same order for each type of segmentation.

An additional caveat is that I don’t know if all six of these bloggers received the opp. they were, however, the only six to visit it before me and there were no additional slots when I arrived, so even if they haven’t received the go-ahead yet, they will before anyone with a significant amount of U.S. traffic does.

So, I ask again. Do you think this advertiser is going to be happy with their Return On Investment?

Apr 282008
 

Setting aside, for the moment, the fact that more than five months after its release, IzeaRanks.com is still missing a significant number of both site visitors and page views, the IZEA development team really needs to take a closer look at how their various platforms (IZEARanks, Social Spark, and PayPerPost) communicate with each other. I’ve seen other blog posts and threads on IZEA’s own forums about other people’s situations, but I’ll leave them to tell their own tales. Instead I’ll focus on what’s been happening here at Philaahzophy…
IZEA Real Rank
This first screen shot (taken about 10 minutes ago) shows Philaahzophy’s page at IZEARanks.com.

I circled the relevant portion for you-

One Week Avg Daily Page Views – 226

One Week Avg Daily Visitors – 153

3 Month Avg Daily Page Views – 210

3 Month Average Daily Visitors – 155

Social Spark profile
This second screen shot (taken seconds after the first) is of Philaahzophy’s Social Spark page.

Again, I circled the relevant portion in blue-

Daily Avg Visitors – 98

Daily Avg Views – 142

Am I the only person that thinks the numbers reported in SocialSpark should match some number reported at IZEA Ranks? Sure, my RealRank islisted as the same at both sites (actually, it’s the same at PayPerPost as well), but what’s te point of sharing my traffic numbers with potential advertisers if they are not only going to be inaccurate, but also nonsensical?

The whole point of RealRank is to have a transparent and reliable ranking system for blogs.  The fact that the majority of bloggers seem to have their traffic stats set to private removes the transparency.  And its reliability is thrown into serious question by the fact that not even the various IZEA properties seem to be able to accurately report current numbers.

Unfortunately, my second recent example has no accompanying screenshots, so you’ll have to take my word for it.  Yesterday, all three IZEA sites were reporting the RealRank of my hometown blog (Aahz Reviews Morgan Hill) as 4,387.  However, I was unable to select that blog for a PayPerPost opp whose only requirement was that the blog be in the top 50% of RealRank.  With IZEARanks showing 9,167 blogs with RealRank, the top 50% would be anyone with a RealRank of under 4,583.  Yet, the PPP site didn’t seem to be aware of this simple fact.

Don’t get me wrong!  I still believe that RealRank is the best website ranking system available to us, but it still needs a lot of improvement.