One of Julia Allison's posts to NonSociety yesterday began: "Today Meghan and I met with the most amazing real estate broker in Manhattan (and I’ve met a few) — Dain Lee from Corcoran." Allison's cofounder and fellow NonSociety blogger, Meghan Asha quoted the post on her blog and added, "Dain knows REAL ESTATE the way he knows fashion, have you ever seen a more pimp Broker? He SAVED us today, by showing us spaces that literally made me drool. NICE JOB DAIN!" Believe it or not — I didn't, at first — Allison and Asha tell us the dreadfully buoyant copy wasn't paid for by Lee, or Corcoran. But when NonSociety does start selling ads, they won't look much different.Before Allison started NonSociety, she actually sold product placements on her personal blog to Dunkin Donuts. She told us plans to bring a similar model to her new venture. "In the future, we absolutely intend to have authentic product placements," Allison said, mentioning Canon, Victoria's Secret, Sephora, American Express, and Cisco as brands she hopes will buy in. "We only want to plug products we genuinely believe in," Allison said. "We think that is the future of marketing — genuine product recommendations, no bullshit." Uncomfortably, we're on the same page as Allison when it comes to the market potential of product placements in online media. One of the more successful publishing startups over that past few years has been EQAL, the team behind Lonelygirl15 and KateModern, which actually earned solid revenues stuffing shows with as many Neutrogena and Hershey products as any episode of America's Next Top Model. That company's cofounders, Greg Goodfried and Miles Beckett, just landed $5 million in funding. Allison has higher goals. "12 months from now," she tells us, "you will no longer refer to me as a nontrepreneur." True. Product placement requires some level of trust from the audience. If even Allison's non-product-placement endorsements continue to be so gushily nongenuine, we likely won't have to refer to her at all.
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