Rocket Internet Startup Caught Paying Bloggers to Publish Content!

In this day and age, blogging and content generation is not an easy task. You have to be regular, you have to constantly add value and you have to be patient because it doesn’t start paying the bills until you get healthy traffic.

Pakistan is host to some amazing bloggers in every field. Unfortunately, however, in their quest to break even or make it their primary earning method, they sometimes resort to less than ethical means, without thinking for a while about the morals, values and credibility in the long run.

This state of bloggers is coupled with such brands that use the short-way of getting promotion through paid content. Instead of bringing value into their products and building relations, they rely on money to get their content published.

Paid content is bad for publishers, and even worse for brands. But the fact remains that both publishers and brands are equally responsible for paid content as both parties agree to shake hands. Who is bigger culprit in this is something we can argue about.

But the fact remains that publishing paid content is against journalistic values unless clearly notifying your readers about the origins and type of the content (which is against Google TOS anyway, meaning that doing so will get yourself banned from Google SERP and adsense).

This issue was recently brought to the spotlight after a blogger received an email (and shared it on his Facebook), which we’ve shown below, that asked for a series of articles posted on a blog for PKR 2,500.

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We won’t even talk about how insulting that amount is, rather, we would like to state that brands in Pakistan — especially those who want to get short-term benefits — don’t hesitate to get involved in dirty business of paying bloggers and journalists for getting biased content published.

When we called Lamudi and asked them about the email, they said that getting free PR is next to impossible these days and bloggers themselves demand compensation for any content that would promote a company, regardless of merit.

Clearly this is not the case when we see the above screen-grab, in which Lamudi is explicitly luring a blogger to do some posts against a fixed money in return.

Brands getting involved in shady practices is not new, but bloggers asking for money against publishing a content is purely a shock for us.

In fact we know about bloggers in Pakistan who have specially crafted “Rate Lists” for accommodating PRs, interviews, reviews and etc. on their blogs.

That’s not all actually, two smartphone companies (we won’t name actually) give bloggers the very smartphones they are supposed to review. This encourages more favourable reviews in exchange for monetary gain. Even if you are impartial, the company would rather give the devices to people who post reviews that give a higher score. In short, even unwillingly, you end up misleading readers.

According to PR gurus, such PR people who offer money against publication of content should commit suicide as they contradict the very definition of their profession.

We think that getting paid for publishing content compromises journalistic integrity and takes away any authority from your content.

We know it’s hard work to build something from the ground up out of your own pockets but we as a nation have to decide if we want to engage in the same things we curse our leaders for? The answer should be a big NO.

By the way, if you are wondering that how exactly bloggers should make money out of their blogging then its banners ads, affiliate marketing but no agreed money or an agreed incentive against the content.

Tech and telecom reporter with over 15 years of experience, he works as founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Well Amir, I damn think that you should have focused on the payer side (Lamudi in your article) more than the bloggers. You have a proof in email that goes against the payer (Lamudi) which in no way reflects the demand from the blogger… The person from Lamudi is insisting the blogger to take money after once he’s rejected. I have rejected many like those and I still have those email conversations exactly matching in your article.

    What made me justifying here only is that you should not have focused against the bloggers only if Lamudi is saying so….. If there are proofs against some bloggers, you must list them in your article specifically instead of using the general term as Bloggers…

    Your article goes completely to damage the reputation of all the bloggers… Please name some or revise the article… Thanks….

    • Well, you are right. Article was somewhat inclined towards Lamudi. I have fixed it.

      But sparing bloggers won’t be just as well. I interviewed over a dozen bloggers during last two days to reach the conclusion that yes bloggers ask for money as well.

      • Thanks but I’ll still say… you must name those bloggers strictly and specifically otherwise you have offended many other bloggers who are not involved. In that way, you are getting benefit by damaging their reputation hence confusing their readers. Sorry to say that above article is still miss-leading…

  • What about all those Paid Articles ProPakistani posted last year? Umm, this comment is going to get removed :p

  • They have been spamming since they launched. I once subscribed to one of their websites for a weekly digest but I get about 4 emails every single day and the unsubscribe button at the bottom of emails don’t work.

  • G main bilkol aap kay sath hoon. PRs or Reviews k liyey paisay lena, ikhalaki dairay say bahar hay. Es ki bajai, apko chahiyey k ProPakisani ki tarah, content k against online Ads mangien

  • Is it true that if they give Rs.1 million to Propakistani then the above news will never be made.

  • Agree with you Aamir attaa, as a blogger I would say that bloggers should write what is true and should not misguide their audience by paid content

  • Bare afsos ke sath ye kehna perta hai ke Pakistani brands internet marketing ke lye Google, Facebook or other social networking sites ko thousands of dollars pay ker dete hein but Apne Pakistani bloggers ko just Rs: 2500/- for 8 articles pay ker rahe hein, i think ye offer kerte howe kuch tu sharam feel honi chahye.. kya ye status hai Pakistan k bloggers ka k ap un ki insult ker rahe hein… As we know already Pakistan google b side pe lagye rakhta hai or agr koi blogger traffic generate ker he leta hai tu us ko Rs: 2500/- offer kiye jate hein, peri personal opinion ye hai ke aise 2500 se inqaar acha hai.
    or janab “Amir” sahab ap se b ek gila hai k ap mere comments del ker dete hein jo k zayati hai, agr ye democratic country hai or ap democracy pe believe rakhte hein tu mere comments delete na kia karin…

    Thanks

    • Hazoor, apka koi comment delete nahi howa… can you pls specify any URL where your comment was deleted?

      • this was happening to me as well. awaiting moderation and then never shows up. but it started to work again. i think it’s “disqus” issue.

      • Thanks for response, or mein Hazoor nahi hon, Mohterma hon :)
        ab muje ye tu yaad nahi ki kis link se del howe but anyway ap ne Democracy ka kuch tu lihaaz rakha :) Thanks once again

  • I think so, Aamir Bhai is going MAD here, Everywhere in the world, each and every top brands hire best bloggers for promoting their brands. Why Aamir bhai charging money for placing Ads on there blog, aap to kamaoo or aapky bloggers ko koi faida na hoo its a dam shit is this ethics, they giving your brand a value aap un say muft kam loo or in the return un ko khuch na doo kya un kay biwi bachay nahi hotay, unkay kharchay nahi.

    • Sir meri website par daily 100 log atay thay max,for over an year. No one gave me ad for over two years. There’s a process involved before you start making money from blogging (or from any business for that matter). I hope you can get it.

      • Iam asking right now Are you charging or not ??
        People reading your content only on your website ??
        remaining writers on your site not increasing the value of your blog ??

          • What is the benefit to your writers ?? they are adding value to your Blog in the return what are you giving them ??

            • We pay them from the money we earn through ads. Sir agar app ko itna nahi pata tu blogging isn’t your thing.

                  • I am your regular subscriber, reading daily your posts, but this post hurt me, can you tell me where it is written in the code of ethics for blogger that they will not charge for writing…Yes it is unethical if he is misguiding or giving favor to brands and not express their own vision to people.

                    • Why would someone pay you if you are not writing as per their will? And how can you write against the will of a brand if you get money for that post?
                      This very thing is why getting money for publishing content is considered bad and unacceptable.

                    • This is right I agree, you should not write if he is forcing to write against the writers will, but your headline dosent show this, In his email its is also not showing that he is asking to write in the favor of company.

                    • email is saying that Lamudi will provide articles that bloggers will have to publish (as they are). Please don’t be naive.

                    • Amir you are wasting time with a breed which is absolutely ignorant of the word called ethics – let alone complex concepts like professional ethics.

                • Brand agr pay kry ga to writer one sided hojay ga..benifits to paish kry ga..masly chupa lay ga..jb k acha writer/blogger wahi hy jo sb kuch paish kry. Is liay aamir bhai ny is chez ka bura mehsoos kia hy…samjh agae????

  • Blogging for Earning is ethical, If some one has God gifted ability to write better then he has the right to earn from him, Yes its wrong if he misguide peoples with their writing, if it increase the value to the topic its OK.

    • Sir, Blogging is same as journalism, you cant pay any journalist or writer to write as per your wish. Paying a blogger for the article is like bribing which is unethical. for instance someone pay international media channel or agency to write bad about your ISI or good about RAW, will it be ethical? SIR JEE ETHICS, RULES, REGULATIONS ki baat horahi hai yahan, kyu nae samaj arahi ap ko?

  • In my humble opinion, Blogging has now evolved in Pakistan and is now very much a “commercial thing” and should not be attached with journalism or journalistic values. The two are NOT the same.

    A Journalist gets degree, relevant experience and writes for an “established media group” which is trusted by hundreds and millions of people. Where as Bloggers start from scratch(mostly from free publishing platform like blogspot or wordpress) to share their “PERSONAL OPINIONS” about certain topics on their OWN BLOG.

    Bloggers are mostly newbies, young folks who study something but write on different topics(mostly about their passion and interests). Now Whatever they do, its their “turf” their “Self-made entity”, if they manage to attract a couple of thousands readers from their OWN Effort, time and skills, I don’t find it unethical if they write paid reviews or get paid for promoting something.

    Its happening world over that bloggers getting paid for writing reviews and enjoying commissions on sales made thru their posts(that’s affiliate marketing I know that). The only ethical obligation on their part is, giving the “disclaimer”.

    • This can be true for personal and semi personal blogs, but not for news blogs or review blogs. What do you say?

      • And how many such “news and review blogs” do we have here in Pakistan? 2, 3 or MAX 5? :) That’s our industry & we are having a problem with them getting paid :) Dragging all bloggers here in this post was so unjust & unfair. #HaulaHath

        • There are lots of them buddy but not all of them are pro. Like i do blogging just for fun and when i started i even don’t know that you can earn from this. I even donot know about copyright thing etc etc.
          I dont say that i am now a pro but i think i am better than many others.

  • Its a common practice for bloggers to publish paid/sponsored posts. However, ethically a blogger is required to mention these posts as ‘Sponsored’.

    Digg, Reddit, Twitter, Instagram everyone do that.
    FYi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sponsored_post

    In case of Rocket Internet, you are making issue of a non issue.
    Real issue is 2500 PKR for 8 posts, off-course this is insulting to the blogger.

  • they do this for carmudi and kaymu as well. Aamir i have few of their emails if you are interested.

  • Simple thing what i want to say dont compare propakistani with The Verge or some other names…….. App ye samajh rahay ho kay main pata nahi kya cheez ban gaya hoon or abb main jo chahoon post kar doon kya farak paray ga :P

  • wow! well there is a plot twist. op is such a cute certified idiot and publicity h*e #IDontThinkSo #ButThisCouldBePossible

    • EDIT 1: for the sake of some clarification for confused ones. According to ‘my opinion’, there is no harm in accepting such kind of advertorials. The unethical thing ‘I’ realize is to sell your reviews / opinions because of incentives, etc. The best and morally recommended practice is to put a label of (sponsored content / advertisement) somewhere near the title for the readers. Almost every other website generating business via blog posts accept such kind of ads. thenextweb rate is $5k usd for this, and other large ones goes up to $15k.

      PS. I’m sorry op ‘if’ my first comment hurts you or anyone. but thats exactly the very first thing came to my mind after following few of most recent articles on this site. you can delete that comment. :)

  • But didn’t ProPakistani just publish a piece “prepared by” Carmudi just a couple of days back? What about that? Just an honest question.

  • Man…the first line in the email looks like the blogger asked for compensation and the marketing guy after getting confirmation from the back-office is “contacting him again”

    Please share the first email for clarification.

  • They should commit suicide? Are you out of your mind? How is that in any way politically correct? If you can’t focus on being politically correct or ethical, please stop talking about others ethics. Furthermore, paying bloggers for content happens all over the world. Its called payment for services rendered, and it isn’t against the law unless the blogger misrepresents the service he or she is reviewing. That’s like saying TV channels are unethical for airing advertisements and receiving payment for doing so. Let’s not pretend like the whole idea of content creation ISNT centered around revenue generation – because that’s essentially what creating any kind of content. Integrity or content creation just for the sake of it has become RARE. ProPakistank themselves generate rveneue from content creation. So get off your high horse and stop talking bs. The only stupid thing the Lamudi people did was offer the poor sob 2.5k for 8 articles. That’s highway robbery.

  • Seriously and i know Pro Pakistani asked me for pushing article :) Wished i could have tapped that phone conversation.

  • two smartphone companies (we won’t name actually) , so you named Lamudi but won’t name them? What hypocrisy. Also, the blogger who was offered this admitted that he has accepted payments in past from the Rocket group so he only has a problem with amount of payment otherwise he is a sell-out. But why do bloggers expect a lot of payment if they are given ready content, only to publish it? now you are going to delete this comment

  • I don’t think any violation of “ethics”in all this. Actually, they provide you a PR which contains a backlink to their website which increases number of incoming links to their website. But this affects (somewhat) to publishing blog in negative way. So, they pay you as a cost of the backlink you are giving to their website. They wouldn’t pay anyone if backlink is not placed within. This is modern SEO.

    • This, my friend, sure is modern SEO, but it is called Black Hat SEO. I will call this kind of payed links, the artificial links. PR is Google’s analytic that is used to judge the importance of certain content via sites linking back to it and a payed link means you are increasing the PR of certain content artificially, means you will artificially make google think that this your content have more value than any other authentic source there.

      Whole PR things runs on the concept that sites linking back in are linked willingly without any greed by the linker.

      Hope you got my point.

  • I am against Paid Reviews and Paid PR. But one thing we should keep in mind that due to so much unemployment in our country, bloggers sometimes do such things to run their kitchen. Again, I am not supporting them.

  • I have heard even blogs like techcrunch publish articles against monetary benefits. Is it correct?

  • Interestingly at the end of this Article, I can see a banner Ad of Lamudi displaying through your adsense account. :) Why don’t you take this initiative & block “lamudi” to discourage companies who are involved in dirty business.

  • There seems to be some confusion among almost everyone here what is journalistic (duty of a journalist) with what common ethical guidelines are and what is the domain of a blogger is and how n where they overlap/separate. I think there should be a piece on that specific thing.


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