The future of spamming will see a new direction as startup Virurl, which just anounced it has raised $1.2 million in seed money, launches its public beta today. By posting links to advertised content on social networks, forums, etc., Virurl members will earn money for clickbacks based on the ppc value set by advertisers. Well, actually, they earn points, which can be traded for cash or prizes. Boosting the reception of Virurl probably is the fact that all proceeds from Facebook-generated clicks go to a charity of the user’s choice – I’ll come back to that.
Curiously, I signed up for Virurl simply by logging in with a Facebook account (btw, I don’t use Facebook for anything besides a dummy account to sign into “connected” 3rd party sites). There was an option to sign in with an email address but I saw no way to register using email. Immediately after logging in, Virurl notified me that I will not earn points because I have fewer than 100 facebook friends, but luckily, I can still share content with no reward. Oh giddy! I found that to be particularly nonsensical granted that it’s pay per click. Whether I have 1000 friends or 1, a click is a click, so why should my popularity matter? Oh, remember that I mentioned proceeds generated off Facebook clicks go to charity? Errm, not exactly. The points you earn from clicks on Facebook go to charity. This might be a way to help prevent abuse on what is the most popular social network, but my guess is that those points which go to charity get a lower payout rate than the points redeemed for cash by users, and it’s really just a clever way to keep payouts guarded against the place that will generate the most click-through, not to mention the tax benefits. Now the 100+ friends threshold makes sense – it creates a gauranteed minimum free views for each link. Speaking of money… how much are the points you earn worth?
The content to share consists mostly of links to blog posts and videos on sites like huffingtonpost.com and the thechive.com. Luckily I didn’t see any that were directly for bying products, but who knows what the future holds. The cost-per-click value of the content that I’ve seen ranges from 6 points to 30, seemingly in increments of 6. And whats the payout? For 5,000 points you can get a $5 in Paypal cash. There are a couple of other gift card options whose point-to-dollar ratio is slightly, but negligibly, higher. This means its about $1 per 1,000 points you earn. Even off the highest earners, which are 30 points per click, it takes 34 clicks to get $1. For comparison, the average click-through value of a Google AdSense ad is estimated around $0.30, about ten times the value. You can trade your points directly for any of a currently limited number of prizes, which includes a Michael Kors Tote Bag (79,990 or ~$80) or an iPad (499,000 points or ~$499). Is that a good deal?
For now, as long as the content to share stays relatively entertaining or useful, and not uber-commercialized with products and services, Virurl is a clever way to incent people to spread the word about articles, videos, and other “viral” types of media. With the low redemeption value of points and the low point-value of clicks, it must be a pretty cost effective means for the “advertisers” trying to promote their site or videos. But unless you have a thousand or more friends who click everything you post, on a service outside of Facebook, don’t expect to get rich, or really much anything. IAll in all, if getting the word out about informative articles or laugh-inducing videos can earn a few bucks for charity and possibly a $5 gift card here and there, I see no harm. Good luck to Virurl and I hope it doesn’t turn into a gag worth of spam flooding every social channel.