Internetnews.com writes that Marqui is paying bloggers ($800/month) to mention their product:
We put no limits on what these paid bloggers can say about Marqui; we only require a badge on their site, a weekly mention of our product and a URL link in the body of their blog. For their own integrity factor, if they want some sort of disclaimer on their blog, they’re more than welcome to acknowledge that we are paying them to blog with a frame, background, language, etc.
If bloggers paid by Marqui want to do more, whether offering criticism about our products and services or adding their personal endorsement, we welcome it. Criticism is helpful
in our development process and it is always better to be talked about than not.
This of course sparked a lively debate in the blogosphere to which they say:
Complete transparency (sic) is mandatory
The idea of paying bloggers is a controversial one, as it challenges some of the sacred cows of the journalistic publishing business. When we first started talking about this idea, an energetic exchange between people with traditional publishing backgrounds and bloggers erupted on the Web.
If Marqui can support these debates, helping the business community to better understand how to harness the power of the network — which is exactly what our products and services are designed to help them do successfully — we believe our sponsorships will pay huge dividends.
It will be interesting to see how the model will play out for them. It will certainly generate content around their URL and increase the Pagerank of their site over time, then it’s successful. After the hubbub around the ethics of this tactic dies down, they will hopefully get good product feedback this way as well. It’d be great if they provided a list of the 15 bloggers they have chosen as I’d like to read what they are saying about Marqui.
Another fun way to “game” the search engine rankings is what P&G Japan did with their trackback contest. They asked people to post stories about their run ins with tough stains and then trackback to their site for laundry detergent. I think they gave out prizes for every 100th trackback or something but the result was that many websites are now pointing to this page so that it’s become a top ranked page for those searching on tough stains and detergent – exactly what they were after!