TBD drops blog ad network, for now

TBD.comThe Albritton Washington DC online only news organization TBD has suddenly ended its experiment with building an ad network comprised of blogs in the DC area. The reasons cited all have to do with disappointing sales and the difficulty of convincing advertisers to put ads on blogs.

We have heard many enthusiastic accounts about how TBD links have boosted the traffic of network members. Unfortunately, the advertising aspect of the network has not taken off as effectively as the traffic and linking relationship.

Paid Content provided similar insight.

The site network had only launched this past summer with a heavy reliance on its initial 120 local blogs. The idea was that these neighborhood sites would be able to supply an ample amount of news coverage, way beyond the depth of the Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) and other local outlets. In turn, that was supposed to attract the sort of small businesses that don’t typically advertise in print or on TV, while offering marketers a chance to target consumers more tightly. But apparently, it didn’t work out that way, or in (Jeff) Jarvis’ view, that model wasn’t given much of a chance to succeed.

In response to Jarvis’ tweets, Jeff Sonderman, senior community host for TBDwrote that, in essence, “Bloggers were running free house ads for us while we figure it out, so we said, take down the ad for now… We’re paying bloggers a bonus we didn’t have to pay.”

While disappointing, I wouldn’t read too much into this regarding the value of the local ad network concept. It’s just a lot more complex to create one that’s viable than simply inviting bloggers into a content network.

TBD assumed that online advertising is a reach-frequency play, but it’s all about data. You acquire data by putting ads on sites that will give you rich data, not just because they happen to cover a specific neighborhood. In this, TBD was thinking too small. Traditional media types think you have to have targetable content in order to provide targeted advertising, but the Web allows you to serve ads to targeted individual browsers, based on an understanding of that browser’s interests. Blogs can provide some targeting, but the essence of TBD’s approach was geo-targeting based on the neighborhood or content of the blog’s subject.

TBD has made smart moves since inception, and I honestly think this is just a diversion. If anybody from TBD happens to read this, call me. I can help you.

To everybody else, I apologize for the blatant shill.

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