TiVo has cancelled a Pay Per Post advertising campaign promoting its new TiVo HD digital video recorder. One wonders: Was it because of concerns expressed here and elsewhere? Or was it because Pay Per Post, a startup which pays bloggers to tout customers' wares in posts and videos, isn't actually that effective? Regardless, TiVo's effort appears to be an experiment gone wrong. Even though TiVo embraced a spirit of disclosure — each paid video was supposed to include a five-second "bumper" segment explaining that it was a paid post promoting TiVo's "Hook Up with TiVo" campaign — the mere fact of working with Pay Per Post may have ruined TiVo's good intentions.
The entire mismanaged process can be viewed in Pay Per Post's discussion boards. Pay Per Post failed to include the bumper in the original call for posts. When the company realized its error, Pay Per Post continued to allow posts to be created without it, hoping to email the bumper after the fact.
At TiVo's request, Pay Per Post's "Director of Customer Love" Karen Allen sent emails asking posters to remove all videos, but the email didn't explain why, how , or when. Despite the takedown requests, Pay Per Post continued to list the "opportunity" in its directory of advertisements. Said one user:
Why is that post STILL available then? It's looking at me and WINKING! Saying ... take me! Feign ignorance! Get the money!
Some posters said they never received the takedown emails. One admitted that a similar takedown request never made it to her, but no one ever noticed that she hadn't removed the material:
There was another opp that was supposed to be removed and I had taken it, but didn't realize that until I got the payout with an apology weeks later. Weird.
And others remained confused about whether ads with the explanatory bumper needed to be removed at all.
But really, the mismanagement of the TiVo campaign is beside the point. Certainly, Pay Per Post's antics didn't help matters. But more to the point, why would TiVo even have to pay bloggers to express faux affection for its video-recording devices? While TiVo's gadgets remain superior in their user interface, cable and satellite-TV providers are renting similar devices for much less. Having gone from life-changing to run-of-the-mill, TiVo no longer evokes genuine passion. The fact that it's now paying for fake testimonials from bloggers merely reinforces that it's getting no real love.