Blog Advertising: A Quick Tutorial

We launched a blog last year to get some dialog going both in- and outside our company about interesting things we’re seeing in digital communications. We didn’t know where it was going, what it might become, or how it would perform. Interestingly enough, our blog now enjoys the same visitor count as our company Web site, and the majority of traffic comes from outside the company. I’d feared we’d be short of readers and content, but we have an abundance of both.

We’re in the midst of evaluating our Web presence, and I was reminded blogging is a great (and often overlooked) way for companies to reach their target customers by either blogging themselves, posting, sponsoring, or even buying ads on other blogs. So, I thought it’s time for an update on blogging as a marketing tool.

We’ve all seen the numbers, and they’re impressive. The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently published a research study on blogs and bloggers. According to the study, 12 million American adults keep blogs and 39 percent of the adult population (57 million adults) read blogs, a significant increase over last year. Blog visitors still skew young (under 35) and from higher income households ($75,000 and above). When you add in blogs generated by businesses (companies, journalists, etc.), the number expands substantially. According to Blogpulse, at press time there were 32 million identified blogs on the Web and nearly a million blog entries posted in the last 24 hours.

Advertisers follow the eyeballs. This is true with blogs, as well, although it’s still a nascent market with less than $50 million in spend expected this year, according to eMarketer. Everyone expects blog ad spend will grow substantially, because there are a lot of viewers and not a lot of advertising. It’s a fresh medium and relatively uncluttered, so response rates can be high for advertisers. This is why our media team considers blogs a natural part of the digital media mix.

Here, then, are some insider tips for advertising on blogs:

  • The beauty of blogs is their specificity; they’re a targeting dream. The challenge is aggregating enough of an audience. Very few blogs have broken the million monthly visitor mark. That means blog sites are used to augment other elements of the digital media mix. Mainstream advertisers are already there. If you’re marketing high tech gadgets, Gizmodo is a great blog (Texas Instruments is an advertiser). Boing Boing counts BlackBerry and AT&T among its advertisers. If you market luxury items, Luxist is a natural fit. Gawker is a logical lifestyle play because of its celebrity content, and you’ll find American Apparel, Hershey, BMW, and Sundance Channel advertising there. Another hot celebrity gossip blog is PinkIsTheNewBlog, where companies like MTV, TBS, and T-Mobile advertise. For autos, it’s Autoblog, where Acura and advertise.
  • You can buy standard forms of advertising on blogs (IAB ad units, page takeovers, floating ads, and wallpaper skins) at CPMs (define) that are roughly comparable to content sites by going directly to the blogs or buying from blog networks like Federated Media, Weblogs, Glam, and Gorilla Nation. The most effective strategies are highly targeted with unique advertising content.
  • An effective blogging strategy moves well beyond just buying ads on blog sites. If a company’s considering creating or sponsoring a blog, it will quickly becomes an initiative involving marketing, PR, and legal. Managing a blog is a full-time job, even for a smaller company. It’s a great way to reach opinion makers and those who influence purchase decisions.

Last year, blogs were considered an emerging medium for advertisers. Now they’re all grown up. Major advertisers have overcome their concerns about advertising on blogs. Blog networks have emerged that help advertisers aggregate audiences efficiently. Traditional digital advertising standards are being applied. It feels like a mature market, except it’s growing — fast. And it’s still a very small part of the digital media mix.

If you haven’t refreshed your blogging strategy recently, it’s time you did.

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