Blog Ad Networks Expand, Take a Breather

  |  September 21, 2006   |  Comments

FM Publishing adds a slew of sites and scales back its blogger recruiting efforts. It's not alone.

John Battelle's Federated Media Publishing recently added 23-odd sites to its network and launched an automotive federation, its sixth such categorical grouping of Weblogs.

The expansion, which includes blogs written by Guy Kawasaki and the authors of "Freakonomics," brings FM's total inventory to "hundreds of millions" of monthly ad impressions, Battelle said. It may also be the last big batch of publisher additions to the network for some months, as the company now says it will put the brakes on its recruiting efforts.

"We just got overwhelmed by really interesting sites that wanted to join," John Battelle, FM Publishing's chairman, told ClickZ. "We're not really set up to take on 30 a month. Our promise to authors and to advertisers we work with is that we have the human being factor. If we're going to sell 200 sites, it's very important we have the right number of sales people, engineers, [back-end and finance people] to make sure the network works as we've promised."

FM Publishing is not alone. Several other blog ad networks have also experienced phenomenal growth, and are regrouping in one way or another before entering the next phase of their businesses.

AdBrite just added its 20,000th site to the network. Executives say the firm will shortly introduce new demographic planning and campaign management tools. An utterly different model from Battelle's high-touch, high CPM network, AdBrite considers itself more of a competitor to AdSense and other monstrous contextual networks. Though AdBrite's roots are in Weblogs, the sites now count for only about 5 to 10 percent of its network.

"We've got the critical mass of publishers, the critical mass of page views," said AdBrite CEO Iggy Fanlo, adding the network has 650 million daily page views and 62 million monthly uniques. Ad impressions are in the neighborhood of three billion impressions daily.

The company is rather vague and mysterious about its looming platform enhancements, but they're clearly based on providing more detailed data and targeting options.

"We're in the midst of creating what we believe is going to be the most transparent ad network on the Internet," Fanlo said. "The average individual in the business couldn't tell you what the average CPM is based on demographics because that information is pretty well locked away. We're going to create a marketplace that creates complete transparency for [the] advertiser, publisher, agency and journalist."

Henry Copeland's BlogAds, meanwhile, is now migrating to a more robust platform that will allow it to accommodate more sites and a larger ad volume. Copeland said the company -- probably the earliest blog advertising play -- has seen a lot of growth in the size of ad buys from small to mid-sized marketers. Copeland, BlogAds founder and CEO, believes the future of his network lies in offering marketers access to self-organized groups of blogs which he refers to as mini-networks. BlogAds already boasts a handful of mini-networks for a variety of topics as disparate as baseball and liberal politics. In the coming two years, he said, the company aims to offer networks of political bloggers organized by state, just in time for the '08 election season.

"The new code is a lot more robust, a lot more scalable, much more attuned to agencies representing multiple clients," said Copeland.

Even as the established blog ad networks begin to mature, new players have emerged. TradingMarkets.com has just launched an affiliation of finance and investing blogs at TheMoneyBlogs.com. The site aggregates posts from 130 bloggers, including venture capitalist Paul Allen and journalist Tom Foremski. By year's end the firm says it hopes to launch a similar collection of technology blogs; other plans include groupings of sports, finance and political blogs.




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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zachary Rodgers

Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects. 

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