When marketing eyes look at the blogosphere

MediaDailyNews puts an advertising spin today on the Pew Internet Project’s study of growth in the blogosphere last year.

Industry-wide, ad executives offered plenty of reasons for avoiding the blogosphere. “We’re very interested in the medium and would love to explore it, but our clients are particularly cautious,” explained John Montgomery, CEO of WPP Group’s mOne North America. “Lifestyle blogs could work very well–fishing, or tennis, or something–but who’s interested in that? The problem is that the blogs generating all the buzz are those that our clients think too risky to associate with.”

Ryan McConnell, a consumer strategist at Aegis Group’s Carat Insight, agreed that blogs might be a tough sell these days. “It’s yet to be seen whether blogs keep up the momentum now that the political season is beyond us,” said McConnell.

Even when blogs generate traffic–such as the well-publicized spike in blog visits after the Dec. 26 tsunami–the jump doesn’t necessarily give marketers an incentive to advertise. “A company has to seriously ask themselves: ‘Do we really want to associate ourselves with the greatest natural disaster of the last quarter century?’ ” continued Montgomery.

When marketing eyes look at the blogosphere, they do so through Modernist glasses. The gods of reach and frequency don’t rule here, and that’s the problem with the idea of blog advertising. Until new metrics come along, the blogosphere won’t be an ad-rich space. If it ever does happen, it won’t be recognizable as what we now know it to be.

People blog for a lot of reasons. Alicia and I have recently had discussions about advertising on this blog. I’m sure I could sell the eyeballs, but I don’t blog to make money. I do it to keep myself up-to-date with trends and ideas, which is what my business is all about. Writing, I find, keeps me sharp, and so I blog.

In a comment on my post about the Pew study, Brendan Watson of Smudged Ink wrote:

Blogging does take a lot of hard work, and with the explosion of blog authoring and readership highlighted by this report, the one thing that gets lost is the fact that according to the Perseus Blog Survey nearly 60% of these blogs will quickly be abandoned. If even the best, most successful blogs are going to be sustainable, there needs to be greater coöperation and more group blogs.

It’s silly how many of us are doing this on our own, even though there are dozens of blogs that essentially have the same things to say about the media. Some of the best blogs should join forces to create a real powerhouse and build a real community for discussing these important issues, instead of fracturing audiences across dozens of blogs. See Dot Squiggle’s post on this issue.

There are some good examples of what Brendan suggests. I think unmediated and Lost Remote are excellent. I also think, however, that you’re going to see growth in the area of aggregated individual blogs this year, much in the way Greensboro101 and similar sites handle their communities. This is a part of the filtering process that some people need in order to feel they’ve gotten a fair reading of any particular community of sites.


  1. Ryan McConnell says

    I discovered your usage of a quote of mine when I was stroking my ego in a Google search. Anyway, while I stand by the statement I made to the reporter, I also wrote a lot more about the blogosphere’s marketing potential that he apparently didn’t feel fit his thesis for the article. Here’s what I wrote to him, in full:

    “Hi Gavin,

    I actually just finished writing an overview about blogs and their advertising/marketing implications for Carat, so you could say that we definitely are paying attention to the phenomenon. It’s difficult to say the level of priority we’re giving them as an agency because all of our clients’ needs are different. For instance, as the blogosphere stands right now, advertising on blogs isn’t appropriate for our clients that target mostly females or an older demographic. But we have a few clients that it may fit with, especially those that are trying to reach a younger or “influential” target. Advertising on blogs has definitely been discussed with several of our clients. Our main focus is how to utilize blogs in an innovative, fun way that won’t turn the audience off, as the audience has proven that they can see through transparent “hard-sell” tactics.

    It’s yet to be seen whether blogs keep up the momentum now that the political season is beyond us. But as more and more people are getting their news information online, we expect blogs to grow to the point that most forward-thinking advertisers will at least test out marketing on blogs in the future.”

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