Announcing ReviewMe!

In April I mentioned that I wanted to create some sort of a social network. I left that description intentionally broad such as to not tip my hand too much. But the idea was a social ad network.

I had a good idea, but hate the idea of having employees and running a company. I want to be able to travel and explore the world, so the idea required a partner. ;) I brought my idea to Andy Hagans, and he was up for running the show. The idea is to create a blog advertising platform that allows advertisers to contact related bloggers to ask if they would review their products or services. Our network is called ReviewMe, and will be launching soon!

While I got into the web as an SEO, I tend to think of myself more as a blogger and viral marketer than an SEO. Viral marketing was the idea behind ReviewMe. It took us a while to get the model and infrastructure down. Since we started working on the projects other blog ad networks launched and one even got VC funding, but I believe our model is going to be somewhat unique and offer a high value when compared to other businesses in the same space.

I think writing a lot and reading a lot about marketing put me in a unique position. After acquiring Threadwatch, while still building this site and others, I started getting pitched more and more frequently. It made me think that there could be a formal marketplace which made it more efficient to ask bloggers for reviews, and also removed some of the potential risks associated with pitching to bloggers. The last thing you want is a popular blogger calling you a spammer, because that stuff tends to rank well.

Four elements which will work nice in our network to filter out bad products and bad offers are

  • bloggers will disclose their relationship with the advertiser

  • bloggers only review things that are interested in
  • we encourage brutal honesty
  • the comment sections on popular blogs will help keep advertisers and bloggers honest

Fraudsters and advertisers with junk offers will not want to risk paying people to write reviews that may expose their business flaws. But, if you have a good product honest feedback and conversation about your business should only help you. Getting great feedback early on in a product's life-cycle can save millions of dollars in the long haul.

I also think this is a more efficient way of selling cost per influence than some of the other networks. Buy a sitewide ad in the right rail of a popular blog. Compare how much traffic that sends to the amount of traffic sent to links in the content area of the blog, and you will see that the influence is in the content area of the site, not near it.

In addition, I think the real value of blogs is the unique feedback you can get from the blogger. Do they like your idea or hate it? And why? What advice can they offer you on how to improve your business?

We are not going to try to create the largest and most efficient ad network in the world. That's Google's job. Rather than trying to squeeze a few more cents out of an ad space, our idea is to extend the value of advertising by coupling it with reviews and conversation on popular sites. Brand building is much more about conversation and community involvement than it is about targeting keywords and displaying ads.

ReviewMe hasn't even launched yet, and I am more excited about it than any site I have ever worked on. You can read Andy's official announcement here, and read up on the latest developments on the ReviewMe blog.

Published: October 12, 2006

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Comments

October 12, 2006 - 11:08pm

Good luck with it Aaron. I hope it becomes the next youtube!

P.S. About why your SEO marketing opinion might sometimes be flawed, perhaps the reason is because you are more of a blogger at heart than an SEO.

October 12, 2006 - 11:08pm

Exciting,

Marketing is an important tool to which SEO is a part of. Effective marketing is the difference between success and failure.

Kudos.

October 12, 2006 - 11:20pm

Best of luck Andy and Aaron, it will be interesting to see how everything unfolds at launch.

Butch
October 12, 2006 - 11:37pm

Great Idea. One question though...

Would the blogger's reviews link back to the advertiser's own site or to the ReviewMe site?

I'm just curious if there is potential link value here in addition to the general product exposure that this service would garner.

October 12, 2006 - 11:43pm

This is a huge deal and I know it's going to take off like a sky rocket. There are some concerns on my end though. I hit on them in more detail on my blog, but here are some of my recomendations.

Bloggers doing the posting should not be required to physically link to the site, service, or product they are reviewing. I also think Aaron should ban the word link from any page on the ReviewMe site. Any time he feels the urge to write the words linking, links, link building, or link popularity he should stop and replace it with “Buzz Marketing”.

October 13, 2006 - 12:09am

Sounds like a very good ideo. I especially like the fact that bloggers disclose their relationship with the advertiser instead of pretending something else. Good luck with it. I guess I will test it too ;)

October 13, 2006 - 12:11am

The bloggers would not link to ReviewMe since it is not what they would typically be reviewing (we would just be the network that made the market more efficient by making communication and transactions between the parties easier).

Some bloggers may not link at all. You are buying reviews - not links.

October 13, 2006 - 12:15am

Good to hear Aaron. I wasn't sure if you guys where approaching this from the Buzz Marketing side or a Link Building side. I see good things ahead. You've got my business once it's launched!

October 13, 2006 - 12:41am

This is a great idea.

IMO you should approach this link thing head on. If a reviewer likes the product he provides a link. If he doesn't like the product he either does a nofollow link or doesn't provide one. This should get Matt Cutts off your back.

Also you can do a double opt-in kind of process:

1. Client submits product
2. Reviewer accept review
3. Client approves reviewer
4. Reviewer does the job and gets paid

This why no one can complain. It will also weed out extremly nasty reviewers.

Ron
November 10, 2006 - 11:32pm

I think you need to have quality writers, bloggers are not all good writers.

And you need to improve the overall look of the site, it needs a fresh design.

October 13, 2006 - 12:46am

We are not likely to use double opt in (as we like the idea of potential advertisers with fraudulent /shifty offers or poor quality product being afraid of getting toasted in reviews - it is a relevancy filter that will increase network quality and value).

Plus if the blogger does the work they deserve to get paid. It is not their fault that the offer did not mesh well with them.

And we are not concerned with links. We offer reviews, not links.

October 13, 2006 - 1:28am

Wow you mentioned you were working on something like this but I had no idea it would be this good. Good luck with it Aaron, I truly expect it will bring you great things.

Jeremy
October 13, 2006 - 1:36am

"We are not likely to use double opt in (as we like the idea of potential advertisers with fraudulent /shifty offers or poor quality product being afraid of getting toasted in reviews - it is a relevancy filter that will increase network quality and value).

Plus if the blogger does the work they deserve to get paid. It is not their fault that the offer did not mesh well with them."

And that's the reason you are going to blow PayPerPost and their VC funding away. BEcause you are being ethical.

I think you keep getting the links thing pop up because it's being announced on SEO and a Link Builder sites. ;)

October 13, 2006 - 1:44am

This is an awesome idea, Aaron. Best of luck on it. :)

October 13, 2006 - 2:23am

This is a great idea, I'm obviously signed up for the publiclaunch already.

One /review/ of the idea for you - how about affiliate deals? I think that Text-Link-Ads has done an amazing job spreading its message using affiliate programs. I suggest the same for reviewme.

October 13, 2006 - 2:47am

What incentive is there to be honest and not be sued in the process? I mean, what if I review something, hate it and write a scathing review? What if that company doesn't like that "honest" review? (Even if deserved.)

Or reverse. What if I pay for a product review and it gets killed with bad reviews, which appear in search engines and I'm put out of business? How do you know people are qualified to make certain reviews?

What if someone reviews something they know nothing about and does a pathetic job of it? Can you get your money back?

As an advertiser, I'd want some major control over what goes out over the blog airways. As a reviewer, I'd be wanting to protecting my butt from somebody I pissed off - even unintentionally.

Jeremy Luebke
October 13, 2006 - 3:00am

@Kim

I'm sure all of that will be covered in the TOS.

Advertiser control over reviews would kill the whole concept. This is the reason why PayPerPost is going to be a flop. Bloggers who use it will never get any respect.

Aaron decided to put ethics above greed and do it the right way.

October 13, 2006 - 3:07am

What incentive is there to be honest and not be sued in the process?

The incentive is your own credibility. Like why be dishonest for a few dollars. Considering how freewheeling many blogs are, lawsuits are not that common. And if they are outright bogus lawsuits the bloggers can end out ahead in the longrun (I did, anyhow).

What if I pay for a product review and it gets killed with bad reviews, which appear in search engines and I'm put out of business?

I don't think any one review will probably kill a healthy legitimate business. If a few negative ones come in so will a few positive ones. Learn from the negative ones and help promote the ones that mesh with your core brand identity.

How do you know people are qualified to make certain reviews?

I think a large part of the web working so well is that there are no qualifications. I posted my opinions yesterday and today and had no real qualifications to do so.

Also advertisers can look at recent content of a blog to see what the blogger is interested in and their perspective on various issues...thus you can select to be reviewed by specific bloggers.

Also look at what happened with PayPerPost. They were slammed by tons of A list bloggers, and out of that they ended up getting $3 million in venture capital.

How you react to what others say is AT LEAST as important as what others are saying.

October 13, 2006 - 7:20am

Is this the same biz model as Rob's Blogsvertise? I know little about either product.

October 13, 2006 - 9:32am

Hi Tony,
I think there will probably be some overlap between blog review networks, although each will have different brands / goals / market segments.

October 13, 2006 - 10:24am

Biggest RSS Button ever? AKA some extra link bait?

October 13, 2006 - 12:57pm

I am amazed at how many of these sort of sites have popped up recently. I thought of the idea of such a site over a year ago and was suprised that nobody had really done it yet. I was more interested in using such a service though not starting one, but when a friend of mine said he had the same idea we talked about launching our own site. After I blogged about my intent to launch such a site I got a few reponses from others who were planning on launching similar sites. However, I do think there our so many ways to approach this that each site will be unique. Aaron, I welcome your competition and wish you the best of luck in this venture.

November 11, 2006 - 9:02pm

Hi Ron
I think our flaws are often what give us our greatest strength and value.

October 13, 2006 - 1:29pm

Hi Aaron,

Please correct your link to "Andy's official announcement" since is not working.

I also believe it's a nice idea.

Regards

Manuel

October 13, 2006 - 2:25pm

I follow your SEO Book blog everyday and can't wait to add another one of your sites to my watch list! Do you have a page/portfolio online that shows all of your websites? I'd love to check them out.

October 13, 2006 - 2:55pm

Sounds intriguing. I'll have to keen an eye on this in the coming weeks & months...

October 13, 2006 - 3:05pm

>Do you have a page/portfolio online that shows all of your websites?

I might need to create one just to keep track for myself! But if I did, it would not be public as some partners or clients would not want that sort of information disclosed, and I am not actively involved in every website that I have ownership in.

October 13, 2006 - 6:23pm

Jeremy and Aaron...just wanted to extend thanks for responding to my questions. Odd things like a forum poster lawsuit in the news has me thinking, is all :)

Will be exciting to watch the next venture from Andy and Aaron. (Where do you guys get the energy?)

October 13, 2006 - 8:56pm

Aaron ... what would be the logistics of the $$$ process?

Advertiser pays to distribute their request for a review through your blogger network. You'll then take the amount this advertiser paid you and share it with the blogger who writes a review?

One concern is ... what would stop that advertiser to use your service as a "one time search" for the relevant blogger?

This is something to think about but I do think that it's a good idea and as a blogger and advertiser myself, I'd be interested in having our services reviewed by relevant blogs.

P.S. Aaron ... suggestion for this blog. Please add a check box for an automatic notification through e-mail of any new posts on the topic people comment on. You can see it on my blog. Quick click on a check box and I get a notification through e-mail of new comments.

Look forward to hearing you at the PubCon.

October 13, 2006 - 9:36pm

I think the ROI will likely be high enough that most people will just use the network rather than trying to skirt around it. See the link to Jeremy Zawodny's blog I posted in the above article.

October 13, 2006 - 9:50pm

Looking forward to it. Great idea. I will definitely be looking for bloggers.

October 16, 2006 - 7:59pm

Interesting idea and hopefully it will have a unique presence in the social marketing community.

Let me know if you're looking for extra bloggers :)

seopractices
October 16, 2006 - 10:18pm

Hi Aaron, great idea! Can you keep us udpated with the process of Marketing ReviewMe? It would be interesting to get to know some of the insights of this project in terms of SEO and SEM. Congratulations.

October 29, 2006 - 9:14pm

I'm doing a review of PPP and blogsvertise and would like to include Reviewme. Can I get access to the beta?

October 29, 2006 - 11:55pm

Hi Aaron
No guarantees of course, but I have forwarded your request to Andy.
Cheers,
Aaron

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