There are several new companies coming out of the woodwork to help smaller publishers make money from their blog or blogs. I see this as just another step on the path from traditional media to distributed citizen media. It's also a great development in terms of enabling individuals to take control of their financial destiny.
History and Progress
Newspapers, radio shows, and other traditional media have always written favorable articles about advertisers. That is, after all, a big part of the motivation for Consumer Reports - to provide unbiased reviews of products. There are also several watchdog agencies that are pointing out the commercial bias in traditional media as Andy Hagans points out in the ReviewMe Blog. So, this is just a further step in an existing trend. And, as a further step, it's not surprising that a lot of the same contentious issues play out.
If you send a free gadget to a reviewer is that a "pay per review" situation? Martin Varsavsky debates this point but in his case he's lucky to just have a $5 product! But, when jounalists given over $500 worth of multimedia/cell phone kit, can you really expect them to be totally unbiased in writing about Nokia? Some people are bashing this new wave of "paid blogging" as biasing the blogosphere, but it's not as cut/clear of an issue as some
At the same time we've all heard the statistics about people ignoring advertising more and more - so marketers are a bit concerned about how to keep getting their ideas passed along in meme sex.
Review of the Companies