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What's All the Talk About Blogging?

  |  May 7, 2002   |  Comments

...and what's so sacrilegious about advertising on blogs, anyway?

Most seem tongue-in-cheek. Some are campy. The bulk don't make any money. Blogging is popping up everywhere, from cocktail parties to online and offline pubs. What's all the hoopla? Perhaps it's the opportunity for commentary, free speech, opinion, analysis, satire, cynicism, and humor.

If you haven't heard by now, a blog (or Web log) is a rapidly growing area in online publishing. According to Evan Williams's site, Blogger, a blog is "a Web page made up of usually short, frequently updated posts arranged chronologically -- like a what's new page or journal." The term "blog" can be traced back to Cameron Barrett's 1999 essay "Anatomy of a Weblog."

It's easy to set up a blog. Blogger is a free, Web-based tool that helps individuals publish online instantly -- whenever the urge strikes.

Content

As I'm sure you can imagine, the content on blogs is quite diverse. Topics range from personal blogs families set up to car enthusiasts to tech, Web, and online advertising. Many bloggers gain permission to link to sites. Many people post to blogs. This aspect is similar to an online bulletin board or instant messaging.

NPR recently aired a segment by David Weinberg (who's Weblog is one of my favorites available via opt-in email) on blogging. NPR said Weblogging is "transforming journalism."

Amazing Growth

Blogging has grown from underground trend to mainstream phenomenon. But blogging exploded before the dot-com boom.

According to Blogger, in January alone at least 41,000 people created new blogs using their sites. Some put the total number of Web logs at more than half a million.

A Sea of Opportunity

If this practice is spreading like wildfire and traffic to blogs is surging, doesn't it seem like an obvious opportunity for online advertisers? For advertising opportunities, blogging technology needs to be user friendly. Ad technology needs to step up to the plate. To me, this parallels the crudeness of currently available ad opportunities in instant messaging.

Blogging isn't widely used, accepted, or provided by companies to employees. The technology would be an excellent forum for workplace communication. Quite often, my clients are trying to target the at-work audience. This would be a perfect fit. Not only would it be a great way to brand or promote products and services online, it would also allow advertisers to gain planning insight. Have you ever watched postings on an online bulletin board or lurked in a chat room? It's amazing what you can find out about people's interests, needs, problems, and attitudes toward a brand.

Many pundits strongly disagree. They believe blogging is built on trust. I agree. They think promoting a mobile phone or airline tickets or soft drinks on a blog would be horribly wrong. That's where I say, "Give me a break."

Open a newspaper, use the remote control on a TV, flip through a magazine, listen to the radio. What are you surrounded with? Advertising, of course. Perhaps these cynics want to protect and preserve the untouched atmosphere. I respect their opinion.

But I still say, "Why not slap an ad on it?"

Sidebar

From "We've Got Blog: How Weblogs are Changing Our Culture":

Blogdex 1. (n) A site developed by MIT Media Lab to track the appearance of memes in the blogging community.

Blogorrhea 1. (n) The tendency of bloggers to begin posting the minutiae of their life in an effort to keep their Weblog active.

Flamebait 1. (n) A link, comment or post purposefully written to create a strong reaction from other posters. The goal behind flamebait is to start a flamewar on the discussion.

Fram 1. (n) Spam from friends. E-mails of jokes, lists, Web sites and interesting tidbits with huge distribution lists are often forwarded and forwarded to others.

Linkslut 1. (n) A Web site owner who loves to be linked by other Webpages. 2. (n) A Web site owner who often links to several other sites or blogs in their community in hopes of receiving a link back.

Slashdot, /. 1. (n) A community Weblog focused on technology and computer news. Owned by OSDN Inc. (Open Source Development Network), Slashdot is also an example of an open source Weblog.

Troll 1. (v) To read Webpages without commenting or adding content. 2. (v) To post to a discussion group an incorrect or incendiary comment in order to create responses. 3. (n) One who trolls.

The WELL 1. (n) The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link was developed in 1985 and became one of the first online communities to form. It was the first virtual community, founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation and set the stage for current Web culture. It is currently owned by Salon Media Group.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Seana Mulcahy

Seana Mulcahy is vice president, director of interactive media at Mullen (an IPG company). She's been creating online brands since before the first banner was sold. Her expertise includes online and traditional media planning and buying, e-mail marketing, viral marketing, click-stream analysis, customer tracking, promotions, search engine optimization and launching brands online. Prior to Mullen, Seana was vice president of media services at Carat Interactive. She's built online media services divisions for three companies and has worked with clients spanning financial, telecom, high-tech, healthcare and retail. Not surprisingly, she has taught, lectured and written about the industry for numerous trade associations and publications.

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