PowerVoice, a new social media marketing company founded by former federal consultant at IBM Ryan Landau and ex-Googler (and brother) Andrew Landau, is launching today. The service compensates users for sharing brands’ messages on social networks in a somewhat similar fashion to Adly. However, unlike Adly, it’s not focused solely on enabling celebrities and other public figures to earn additional income through recommendations. Instead, on PowerVoice, anyone can sign up and get paid to promote brands’ ads.
Of course, since PowerVoice users aren’t celebrities, they’re not going to receive hundreds or thousands of dollars for each brand message they choose to share – the payouts are much smaller. But, says COO Andrew Landau, “we’re democratizing the social media space, so people who don’t have the time or the resources to connect with these brands, and may not have an agent….can come to PowerVoice and get paid.”
The company has been operating a private beta since Thanksgiving, and now has a network of a couple thousand users who are sharing these advertisements on Facebook and Twitter. The types of ads PowerVoice has seen to be most effective involve “like” campaigns (i.e., to “like” a brand on Facebook) and video views, but a brand can determine the message they want to promote, be it a discount, contest, coupon or some other promotion. Brands can also control the commission rates by offer, but PowerVoice says it prefers to give a 60% to 80% cut to its publishers.
PowerVoice has around 30 companies in its system, but most have come through affiliate networks to start. These include Starbucks, Sheraton, American Greetings and W Hotels, for example. Andrew Landau was previously an account executive at Google’s Affiliate Network, so this is an area he’s familiar with.
Users have to earn at least $50 before receiving a payout, and so far “dozens” have been paid, with some earning “hundreds of dollars,” says Andrew. The average active user earns around $55 per month. In other words, a bit of extra income, but don’t quit your day job.
Also important to the company are disclosures – that is, users must say that what they’re posting is an ad. On Twitter, this is done via the hashtag “#ad,” while on Facebook the text includes “sponsored promotion.” Messages can also be shared through email, blogs and forums.
To combat the obvious challenge of dealing with fraud and spam, as is case on any platform where money is being handed out in exchange for clicks, the company is using technology from Cactus Media, a product that two of PowerVoice’s investors, David Weinberg and Aaron Weitzman, happen to own. PowerVoice also sees the majority of its signups via Facebook Connect, which helps to verify a user’s identity. (Plus, spamming your friends is not only bad business, it’s bad for your reputation.)
Speaking of reputation, PowerVoice will very soon begin tiering the system based on user’s Klout scores where higher payouts would be given to those with higher scores. Thankfully, this may be implemented alongside other metrics, so even those with low scores but high engagement levels will have similar opportunities as the highly ranked. This is interesting, though, because it’s one of the first companies to really use Klout’s scores in something that leads to tangible rewards outside of Klout itself: i.e., cold, hard cash.
It should be noted that this whole thing has been tried before, not only with Adly, but also Twittad and Magpie (acquired by another – IZEA’s Sponsored Tweets), for example. In addition, Adly once operated very much like PowerVoice is proposing to do now, before switching to the far more lucrative celebrity endorsement market. Of course, this was in the pre-Klout era. With “real” metrics (err, Klout scores) in tow, plus support for additional social networks (yes, Google+ is coming soon), PowerVoice hopes to raise itself above its competitors.
PowerVoice currently has seven angel investors, mostly from Detroit, and has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding. It’s now looking to raise additional funding.