WordPress bloggers who want to generate ad revenue from their content have tradtionally had to upgrade from the free version of the service, to a platform (and domain) that they pay to host themselves. But WordPress parent company Automattic is planning to loosen that ad restriction, so that free accounts can run small ads. The catch is that they’re SocialVibe widgets — meaning that the proceeds go to a charity, cause or community organization — not to the bloggers themselves.
It’s the latest partnership that social giving and marketing firm SocialVibe has announced since it picked up $8 million in a second round of funding in January. People have been able to embed sponsored badges on their Facebook and MySpace profiles since the startup launched roughly a year ago, and SocialVibe says it has helped users raise almost $500,000 for various charities from these micro-transactions since then. SocialVibe currently donates 100 percent of the proceeds to the charities, but plans to move to a rev-share model by later this year.
With the latest deal, WordPress.com bloggers can now sign up for a SocialVibe widget; they choose a specific charity and corresponding brand sponsor, embed the ad unit in their blog, and start earning micro-donations from the brand once readers interact with the sponsored units. Interactions include things like watching and rating a video; progress gets displayed right on the widget with a note like ‘My blog has provided 17 books to students in need’. Bloggers can chose from over 30 causes, including World Wildlife Fund and charity: water; sponsors include Kraft Foods, *Sprint* and Showtime, among others. There’s also a version of the app available for the upgraded WordPress.org.