Gawker's Hamilton Nolan has unearthed a dirty marketing scam that's happening in the Internet journalism world right now: Advertisers are paying bloggers for links in posts. Nolan got into a email exhange with Bryan Clark from a marketing firm called 43A, in which Nolan was offered $130 to place links to 43A's clients in his Gawker posts. This sneaky, and totally unethical, practice seems to depend on keeping editors out of the payola loop. "We work with bloggers mainly. That's not to say we don't have editors working for us (we work with editors at the Huffington Post, Business Insider and Technorati — to name a few)," writes the marketing rep. Business Insider's Henry Blodget, for instance, tells Nolan he was entirely unaware of the firm or the practice.) But Clark adds, "We generally meet with resistance when dealing with editors, but bloggers aren't paid as well and most are willing to make some extra money." So while he doesn't out and out tell Nolan to lie, Clark does suggest that he may want to keep the arrangement to himself. Nolan declines the offer, which was upped to $175 per link, and decided to burn Clark instead. The sound you hear is a hundred web editors scrutinizing URLs.
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