The Blackmail/Extortion Business Model
A business that has the potential to negatively influence perceptions of
another company but negotiates the information disseminated for some type of fee.
Examples (Allegedly, with sources):
Businesses want positive reviews in one of the web's definitive guides to local
businesses. Yelp allegedly takes advantage of this (source )
by changing what reviews do or don't show based on whether you pay or not.
Advertisers use ComScore as the definitive source for traffic statistics.
ComScore is accused of under-counting companies that do not pay their fee ($10,000!)
to get their tracking code. (source)
Better Business Bureau
Businesses get rated and consumers make complaints. The BBB makes money
from businesses subscribed to their service. It has been accused that the grading
system favors paying businesses (source).
Why it Matters:
These organizations have a reputation with the audience purchasing a service or product.
They take payment from businesses providing that service or product in order to
present information about those businesses. Exerting their power over businesses
listed in their system can increase their profits. This business model sustains
itself as long as lawsuits and legislation allow. It is one of the strongest
lock-ins available. Consumers keep using it because companies keep promoting it
because those that don't, often fail.