Who are these guys?
In the nearly two and a half years that this blog has been up and running, I've been bragging that I don't take ads, and promising that I won't.
Well, now I'm breaking that promise -- sort of.
You may have read about an outfit called Marqui that is paying bloggers to blog about it. It's based in Vancouver, B.C., but I hear it's about to open up shop right here in Portland. Anyway, Marqui sells a service that techies call a CMS -- I think traditionally that's meant "content management software" but Marqui prefers to call it "communication management software." (Can you tell how clueless I am about this?) If you'd like to see and hear an animated demo of what it's about, just go here.
The Marqui folks think they've got a great product (I think it's more a service than goods), and they were looking for a cool way to spend a few hundred thousand bucks to spread the word about it. And that's where the bloggers come in. Rather than buy traditional advertising, Marqui has decided to see if it can get itself mentioned on some established blogs, rack up some Google hits, and reach its audience a different way (and perhaps a slightly different audience as well). The novelty of the approach is also likely to attract some free publicity. Sounds edgy, but it's got potential.
When I heard about the program a week or two ago, and with two college funds always in the back of my mind, I e-mailed Marqui to inquire, and well, here I am on the roster. As of today, there are just over 20 of us bloggers who have been offered, and taken, the bait.
So what does it mean for this blog? Well, for the next three months, once a week I must make, as the lawyers put it, a "textual mention (with URL link) about Marqui and its Communication Management Software." I've also got to put a Marqui logo up, which I've done. As far as I can tell, that's it, and Marqui says "it wishes to give [me] the freedom to make any comments, positive or negative, about [their] service." Oh, and I'm encouraged to learn more about the company and its customers, about which Marqui will no doubt be educating me beyond my wildest dreams.
Why would I do this? It's several hundred bucks a month, but it's also intruding into the very body of the blog -- my precious little journal. I'm reminded of one of my favorite albums as a kid, "The Who Sell Out." Is it worth it?
Well, for one thing, I don't think it will be too intrusive. All I have to do is mention these folks and link to them once a week. I'll probably do more, but that's up to me. Besides, this makes me feel like a professional writer again -- paid to go out on assignment, as it were -- and I like that.
But perhaps most importantly, this could be the start of a new phase in the evolution of blogs. Blogging is like rap music: It was looked down upon by the established artists when it first appeared, but it's here to stay. There could come a day when it takes a serious bite out of the advertising industry. And if it does, it will be kind of neat to have been there at the dawn of that trend.