glam twitter widgetTake one publisher, one widget, Twitter, a sponsor, and a dash of censorship, blend well, and…you’ve got yourself an ad model!

At least. Glam did during last night’s Oscar telecast. The company plunked a widget on its home page during the Academy Awards broadcast last night so its users could share their thoughts on the telecast. Aveeno’s logo graced the bottom of the app.

But unlike the live Twitter feed gracing our fair homepage, Glam editors made plenty of calls: who was allowed to tweet, as well as redlining inappropriate comments, to make the environment more advertiser-amenable.

According to a report in Venturebeat, Glam intends to continue the experiment, but isn’t married to Twitter. Facebook and Friendfeed could supply the user-generated content in future endeavors in a product it has dubbed “gWire”.

Glam experimented with the feature during New York’s Fashion Week last week to enthusiastic participation. The company says it’s creating a pool of freelance contributors it can trust to feed teh stream with less supervision and accordingly, lower editorial overhead.

What’s not clear is if the tweeters are taking part in the project for
love or money. It’s not easy to assemble a great pool of freelance
talent that can be relied upon to reliably contribute quality content
— and clearly, in initiatives such as this one, there’s a contractual
obligation to the advertiser to deliver on that content.

There are, of course, a number of non-cash based compensation models a publisher such as Glam could consider going forward: access, tickets, product giveways being just a few.

Glam may or may not have been compensating its Oscar tweeters, but my educated guess is they weren’t. For now, that’s a model that can work, but methinks citizen journalist/blogger/tweeters are going to wise up in the future and realize if money is changing hands around their content, some of the love will have to flow in their direction, too. Free content isn’t sustainable – not when you’re selling it to third-party advertisers.

For years, I oversaw an online publication largely centered around the contributions of non-staff columnists who were experts in their respective fields. In no time, I learned I had to pay my contributors something – anything – to imbue our relationship with mutual respect and professionalism. To get them to respect deadlines and to deliver quality. We were obliged to deliver quality content against our advertisers messages. Acknowledging the contributions of our writers with real compensation quickly proved to be the surest route to that goal.