Monetizing Blogs

    December 2, 2004

There’s lots of talk these days about making money with blogs. Some of its solid information with factual research to back it up but some of it’s just pure rubbish. One thing that’s unclear though is how advertisers can unobtrusively and effectively get their product placed on a blog their target audience reads.

Moentize Blogs
Can Your Blogs Generate Revenue?

How do you get your blogs “ready for prime time”? What potential do blogs have as money makers? Discuss at WebProWorld.

This opens up a real can of worms for ad agencies and bloggers alike. Bloggers don’t want to shove ads in the face of their users because this tends to depersonalize the blog. On the other hand, most bloggers are interested in earning pennies (or even dollars) for their thoughts. So, if a product matches a blog’s core audience and the blogger can personally endorse it, then it’s just a matter of where to put the ad.

However, one key component of getting an ad placed on a blog is getting the attention of the blogger that runs the blog in a way that gets their attention. Many folks go about this the wrong way and Battelle is quick to point out the ‘secrete blog press release submission recipe’ that works on his blog. However I can’t find the link to his entry (someone please email that to me if you find it).

When Submitting Stories to Bloggers, Don’t Do The Following

  1. Don’t just blatantly send a blogger a press release. I got one of those this week and it was immediately deleted.
  2. Don’t tell them you’re looking for a fastest way to make a ton of cash and ask the blogger to help you do that by mentioning your web site in their blog. I got one of those this week also.
  3. Don’t presume anything, be up front with your request and make sure the blogger has enough information to make an informed decision about your request without having to email you back to get more info.
  4. Don’t be unprepared. You should know all there is to know about the blogger and their blog before you contact them out of the blue.
  5. Don’t tell the blogger they’re an idiot and their writing style sucks. I got one of those a few weeks ago too. That request went straight to the ‘to do” basket 😉
  6. Don’t waste the blogger’s time. Chances are their blog is something they do on the side and if they make any money on it it’s not much at all. Wasting their time with silly requests will get you blacklisted faster than you can say “please link to my site”.

The ad agencies that are able to mingle with the A-List bloggers in a specific vertical will have advertisers banging their doors down. Why? Because well respected bloggers can build trust in a single post. Trust is what gets you to purchase or keep looking when it comes to products. It’s like when I read Wired magazine. I love going to the gadgets section and seeing what the staff has tried out the previous month. Why? Because I know they’ll write an honest opinion of the products they’re reviewing. That makes me much more likely to purchase the product they’re showing than if I just saw it on ThinkGeek.

This also creates an interesting situation for ad agencies. They’ll have to be much more selective with which clients they offer blog placement services to. I mean it has to be a perfect fit for the advertiser and their network of blogs and if its not then the ad agency runs the risk of losing all credibility with their A-List bloggers. Of course, paying the bloggers an exorbitant amount of money could remedy that but then the readers of the blog in question will be put off and not respect the blogger as much. Ah, the old catch 22.

But if any of you remember when Eric Ward started URLWire, that’s exactly how his business began. He had contacts in the media that were in charge of web sites and knew Eric wouldn’t give them any crappy press releases. Voila, a business model is born. It’s just that now its happening with blogs and back when Eric started there was no such thing as a blog.

I predict…

  1. Ad agencies will seek out A-List bloggers who have strong relationships with other A-List bloggers to head up their blog placement departments.
  2. Someone will step up and create a blog taxonomy that shows the key players in specific blog verticals. This will identify the “people to know” if you want to succeed with your blog pr campaign.
  3. Large PR Firms and Ad Agencies will spin off subsidiaries dedicated to blogs to increase their relationship with bloggers and appear to be experts in blog product placement and blog pr.
  4. Blogs will continue to increase their focus on specific areas whether these are niche verticals or niche subject areas.

I recently had an interesting conversation with Tig over at MarketingVox and he made a statement that I can’t seem to stop thinking about. He said that the ads on MarketingVox are bringing in some incredibly high conversion rates for his advertisers. More importantly, the ads on his site are reaching the point where they are becoming content.

Blog Ads Becoming Content
Now that’s not something you hear every day so at first it might not make sense. What he meant was that because of the strong reputation MarketingVox has with ad agencies and media buyers: the ads placed on their are looked at by his audience as content. In other words, the ads are perceived almost as “this is a product you might not have known about but it’s something you should know about if you’re really in theknow”. When any publisher can get their audience to perceive their ads as content then they’ve done something special.

Some of Wired magazine’s ads do this for me in the tech industry and MIT’s technology Review magazine does it for me in the research sector. It’s no different than little surfer groms getting their parents to buy an Channel Islands Al Merrick board and Quicksilver board shorts because Kelly Slater is sponsored by them. It’s just that we’re starting to see this same effect in the blogosphere and that’s incredibly enlightening for me. I mean, what some organic dairy farmer in Vermont says about organic milk can impact the dairy industry’s sales… man that’s cool!

Jason Dowdell is a technology entrepreneur and operates the Marketing Shift blog.