Bloggers Vs. Brands?

Legal blogger/podcaster/all-around cool cat Denise Howell, who just launched her new Lawgarithms blog over at ZDnet, pointed me towards a great New Statesman article that takes a look at blogging for hire. Using paid blogging service Blog Republic as a jumping off point, the article presents what seems almost like battle lines that are being drawn between bloggers and companies that use bloggers. I’d like to hear what everything thinks on this.

Suddenly corporations are all over the blogosphere. Last year, Business Week ran a feature, “Six tips for corporate bloggers”, which highlighted a deal between the web services company Marqui and 20 bloggers who were offered $2,400 each to write about the company once a week for three months. At the end of June this year, the idea went pro with, a site set up by Ted Murphy, chief executive of the advertising firm MindComet. PayPerPost’s home page shows a youthful adman in a smart suit and with a cheeky grin – “He wants to create a buzz for his new product” – alongside a glamorous girl kicking back at a cool party – “She wants to make money”. “You tell the blogger what you want him/her to post about,” the advice for advertisers reads. “You can require the blogger to add photos to their post, write about experiences with your product; the possibilities are up to your imagination.”

I don’t personally agree with the premise, but the article certainly highlights some points that are worth noting. Brands are trying to buy placement in blogs and this is a trend we’re going to see going on for the next few years as companies struggle to integrate the concept that globally networked marketplaces are human dialogues. It’s nothing insidious – instead, it’s just companies trying to fit the blogging world within their conception of the media world. Paying for product placement or ad space is normal to them and change can be a little scary sometimes. Eventually, I think this will give way to normal discourse, but it’s going to take few years.

More interesting, Stephen Armstrong, the author of the piece, seems to be subtly suggesting that instituting some type of oversight or regulation into the blogging world might be a good idea. Again, something I’m personally opposed to, if for no other reason than it would hamper the free marketplace of ideas.

My favorite line in the article, though? “Many new bloggers are […] college kids just trying to get laid.” Two questions: What universities does this guy live around and where can I get an application?