June 12, 2007

No payola here

Dan writes about the newest advertising gimmick to come along with blogs.

This new scheme apparently pays per undisclosed sponsored link. Include a link from a blog post to whatever dodgy dealer likes the idea of buying these kinds of ads, absolutely do not reveal to anybody in any way that you’re getting paid for it… and get paid for it. Genius!

Harry says he’s now seeing… unusual… links popping up on a number of blogs that also run Text Link Ads.

That really is pretty shabby. But I understand the motivation, unfortunately. A paid testimonial is usually discounted by readers; what seems to be a spontaneous one will be worth more because readers will assume it's sincere. So they're trying to fake sincerity.

You may have noticed that I have said a lot of nice things about Robert's Anime Corner Store. He doesn't give me any money, and our only business relationship is my occasional orders. A couple of times he has tossed in something extra with larger orders, but it's not routine, and I get the impression they do that for other regular customers as well.

The reason I say the things I say is because I think they're true. I praise him and his service because he earns that praise and deserves it. If he ever ceases to deserve that praise, you'll hear that, too.

I don't take payola from anyone, and I never will. As a reviewer, I'm small potatoes -- but I'm honest.

UPDATE: Dan's post was a followup to this post, about pay-per-post advertising. That's pretty scummy, too.

UPDATE: So what about the question of receiving free review copies of DVDs and/or mangas? I think it depends on how that's handled.

I read Chris Beveridge's reviews and I rely on him as being an honest reviewer. I don't always agree with him but I do always believe that he says what he thinks, even though every DVD he reviews is a free review copy.

Perhaps that's due to weight and volume. He's important enough as a reviewer at this point that all the release companies routinely send him free copies of DVDs, and they can't stop doing so even if he pans some of what they send. So such pressure as there might be on him to be positive is slight enough that he doesn't have any difficulty ignoring it. When something really stinks, he says so.

On the other hand, a couple of months ago Basugasubakuhatsu started running reviews of free DVDs and mangas, and I don't think I've seen one yet that wasn't given at least a partial positive review. I don't trust him anymore, and I don't believe what he says. I've largely stopped reading his blog because of it.

I will give him credit for one thing: he admits each time that he's reviewing a free review copy. Even so, it's really hard to believe that everything he's given is as good as he says it is. He may not be under overt pressure to turn out positive reviews, but I sense a conflict of interest: if he starts panning titles, the flow of free goodies may stop.

Myself, everything I've ever reviewed I also paid for. So I have no conflict of interest.

UPDATE: Hung has responded to this on his blog, here.

Just to clarify something: I never thought, nor meant to imply that I thought, that Hung was accepting money for writing positive reviews. Given the context of the earlier part of this post, I can see where that could be inferred, and it's my mistake for not making it more clear.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in People at 01:17 PM | Comments (16) | Add Comment
Post contains 608 words, total size 4 kb.


I might, should my readership ever be enough to make it worthwhile, sign up for some paid advertising, much like Shamus has ads on his site.  I've even thought about signing up as an affiliate for click-through purchases to Amazon and Robert's  -- but I don't think my readership is large enough.  

Actually, if I'm wrong, I'll never know, because I deliberately do not put counters anywhere in the bridgebunnies.com domain.  I want to write what I feel about writing, and if individual posts (or even the whole site) have counters, then I'm going to obsess over whether I'm drawing "enough" readers with what I'm talking about.  (Houblog is a bit of a different matter, since it's written to influence public opinion, among other reasons.  So I track its readership.)

I wouldn't object to making some of my hosting expenses back or seeing some other return; outside of ISP and computer/electricity costs (which I'll have regardless), I spend about $400 a year on blogging.  That's why I have (the never-used-by-anyone) gift, CafePress and donation links.  And I wonder at times if I should take them down for the same reasons as in the prior paragraph. Since no one donates, there's been no need to bother.

But payola?  "Gidouddahere."



Posted by: ubu roi at June 12, 2007 01:58 PM (dhRpo)

2 I just checked out that blog you linked, the first post was a review of 009-1.  Talk about a corrupted reviewer!  I don't know if I've ever seen such blatant sucking up in my life, and for a series that's really pretty awful.  (Hint: 009-1 wasn't mostly ignored by fansub-watchers because ADV liscenced it, that didn't occur until about halfway through the series.  It was mostly ignored because the major groups thought it was pure junk.  It's an action anime featuring girls with large breasts; if it had even the slightest level of quality like 30 groups would've jumped on it.)
I know ANN liked it, but this guy talks about it like its the second coming of Evangelion.
I've never read that guy before, but I'll be sure to stay away from him in the future. 

Posted by: Adam at June 12, 2007 03:29 PM (ff/q8)


I reviewed the first episode of 009-1 over at The Pond.  I've never had so much fun reviewing a show, because it was SO awful.  I'm amazed that Basu liked it.

I'm also amazed that it got licensed, but what the heck?  "Big Guns" go a long way, I guess.

Posted by: Wonderduck at June 12, 2007 04:14 PM (eCrFX)

4 We were actually asked to sub it once it became obvious that nobody was going to; I think I put it somewhere near the bottom of the "To do, someday, maybe, possibly, if I'm ever really bored." list, right next to Happiness!, Ryuusei Sentai Musumetto, and the Eko Eko Azarak Live Action series.

I remember being bowled over that ADV had liscenced it, but I guess when you remember that they'd almost bankrupted themselves by overliscensing just before a huge industry downturn, it makes sense. Guess they haven't learned their lesson.

Posted by: Adam at June 12, 2007 05:08 PM (ff/q8)


They seem to think it's going to do well. They paid Anime News Network for one of the "remake the front page graphics" advertisements ANN's been running recently. That can't have been cheap.

Of course, ADV hasn't always demonstrated the best of sense in business decisions, but they're investing more in this one than in some.

You guys all say it sucks, by the way, but Chris Beveridge gave the first DVD a "B+" rating.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 12, 2007 05:40 PM (+rSRq)

6 Anime World Order liked 009-1, but then they like shows that are unabashedly stupid and terrible.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 12, 2007 06:38 PM (PiXy!)

7 My memory was that everyone who commented on 009-1 from fansubs said it was awful, so I've been assuming that Chris Beveridge's good review was an anomaly. It wouldn't be the first time he and I have disagreed.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 12, 2007 06:44 PM (+rSRq)


There are guns in her boobs? "Cyborg" not withstanding, there are things that are wrong, lines that should not be crossed, places that should not be sullied.

Their faces are ugly, too.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 12, 2007 07:05 PM (+rSRq)

9 Hmmm, I think the reason it seems like I only ever give good reviews is that I don't grade on a grade system. I just sorta say what I think about the titles. When it comes to writing the conclusion, I include the pros and cons. But I don't say "78/100" or B+/2.

I was looking back and I guess I do tend to be forgiving. I did give "negative" reviews to the Tsubasa Chronicles DVD, and the Bobobo ones, too. And Peach Girl, too. I totally railed on Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.

I honestly did enjoy 009-1. Maybe it's because I had such low expectations? Looking at the post, it is pretty positive, but really, that's how I feel about the series. If I like bad series, I like bad series.

Companies send me free stuff, and that's cool. I guess you're right that I might have some kind of subconscious thing telling me to give good reviews because of that. But they don't pay me. And sometimes they're really difficult to talk to as well. Believe me, if they have a choice of sending to ANN or me, they'll choose ANN.

I did take money to do a review on an anime download service, but I fully disclosed it and I gave them about a negative review as I could.

In the end, I'm just trying to do a lot of reviews, and I really don't make a lot of money from my site (with the ads). Companies give me free stuff and I review it. Call that a conflict of interest if you want, but there's no way I could review this much stuff if I had to pay for it out of pocket.

I really do hope you continue to read Basugasubakuhatsu. I hope I haven't alienated anyone by doing domestic reviews...

Posted by: Hung at June 12, 2007 07:59 PM (UKyzS)


Hung, the reason for reading a review is to help me make a decision whether to buy or not to buy a given thing.

A "forgiving" reviewer with "low expectations" is a waste of time. If you're proffering me reviews, then I want you to tell me when something is mediocre, when something is outstanding, and when something is utter crap. That way I know which titles to avoid, because they're probably a waste of money.

Maybe you get that stuff for free, but I pay for what I get. It's easy to be forgiving about something that's free, but a reviewer is supposed to be advising his readers -- and they don't get it for free.

I pan stuff that stinks. I really raked Maburaho over the coals, for instance, because it deserved it.

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." That's a good rule for social discourse, but absolutely terrible advice for a reviewer. A reviewers job is to say nasty things when it's justified to do so.

It's your site; it's your name on it. You write what you want. But I won't be reading it any more, because it's a waste of my time.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 12, 2007 08:19 PM (+rSRq)

11 Steven,

You're absolutely right. Maybe I've lost my credibility. Maybe I've let these review copies go to my head.

I'm really glad I found this post (albeit indirectly) and I'm glad you responded to me honestly.

I'm going to rethink the way I do reviews on my site.


Posted by: Hung at June 12, 2007 08:37 PM (UKyzS)

12 Hung has responded to this on his blog, here. I would have posted this as an update on the article except that I can't get in right now to post.

Just to clarify something, however: I never thought, nor meant to imply that I thought, that Hung was accepting money for writing positive reviews. Given the context of the earlier part of my post, I can see where that could be inferred, and it's my mistake for not making it more clear.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at June 12, 2007 09:36 PM (aTZaE)

13 I disagree that Maburaho adds up to a disappointment that isn't worth watching. It's fun, decent and a great way to use up free time.

I find your negative review of Maburaho rather exagerated in a biased way.

Posted by: Zina at June 13, 2007 05:16 AM (Cht44)

14 I thought it was kind, actually. I do know that people who had to work on Maburaho were often suicidally depressed afterwards...

Posted by: Avatar at June 13, 2007 07:47 AM (dlP4b)

15 Maburaho is in fact the third most common cause of death worldwide over the past twenty years, after malaria and American Idol.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at June 13, 2007 07:57 AM (PiXy!)

16 Where do Dancing With the Stars and CNN rank?

Posted by: ubu roi at June 15, 2007 06:05 AM (dhRpo)

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