Blog Advertising

It’s past time we online ad professionals used blogs to contribute to campaign efforts.

That point was driven home last week at ad:tech New York. Though this wasn’t the first year blogs were a hot topic at ad:tech, networks such as Blogads and AdBrite were making a splash. These networks make advertising on blogs easier than before. It’s becoming more and more practical for brands to embrace the blog movement.

Blogads’ Henry Copeland was a panelist on the “Do-It-Yourself Advertising” session. Copeland discussed the growth of his network over the last couple years and what he expects in the future. Currently, Blogads has about 900 blogs on which you can advertise. His stretch goal is 10,000 blogs by this time next year.

Copeland does have some basis for that claim. “There are about 18 million people [currently] blogging,” he said. Let’s say that’s the number of people who have set up blogs. The number of people actively blogging is, say, half of that. Of that number, how many regularly update content? How many update their blogs weekly, or even daily? The reality is there are maybe 10,000 to 100,000 really active (hourly or daily) bloggers who get significant traffic numbers.

Maybe 10,000 to 100,000 doesn’t sound like very many active blogs. But consider this: There are 49,000 daily journalists in the U.S. Conceivably, there are more well-informed, active bloggers out there than active journalists. That’s potentially tens of thousands of really influential people. People with an audience. An audience you can reach through their blogs.

Let’s consider how influential people think. I sat through another ad:tech session, “Real Time Focus Group: Influencers Unplugged.” Participants were identified as influencers and asked to share their thoughts on being influential. Basically, it was a focus group on a big stage with several hundred observers. Some insights:

  • The group talked about the value of having a brand — the idea everyone has a brand, and you must mind your brand.

  • This group understands social currency. Knowledge and insight, and a passion for such things as music, food, and travel are what make you influential.
  • These people stay connected with friends and family through technology: instant messaging, text messaging, and mobile phones.
  • When asked, “Is the glass half-full?” they all said, “Yes.” In fact, some suggested the glass was three-quarters full.
  • Influencers are two to three times more vocal when they’ve had a bad brand experience. Unsurprisingly, they said they tell more friends about bad experiences than good ones.

Clearly, influencers are a very savvy crowd. Bloggers are vocal and influential, too. So how do you put the power of these influencers to work for your brand? By embracing the platform they use to communicate with their audience, of course.

Copeland suggested a few things to keep in mind when launching a blog advertising campaign:

  • “Influentials are skeptical, cynical, and are the biggest pain in the ass around,” he told me. “People trust them because they’re doing their due diligence. So don’t create ads with babies doing jumping jacks and expect them to respond. Create advertising that’s honest and connects with the audience.”

  • “Don’t speak to a generic audience. If you’re a travel brand, don’t deliver a generic destination message. If you’re on a site with a gay audience, feature a gay-friendly destination.”
  • “Be entertaining. Be edgy. Let the audience know that you’re a part of the community and that you ‘get’ the community.”
  • Inform the audience. “Don’t talk at them or sell to them.” Deliver value in your messages. For example, “Here are 10 links to improve your… or get more value out of….”

In addition, Copeland directed me to “How to Write a Killer BlogAd,” an article by one of his smartest buyers, featuring great advice on how to use images, text, links, and the like to get the most out of blog advertising.

Get out there and try it. Blog networks such as Blogads, AdBrite, FeedBurner, and Weblogs, Inc. are great places to get started. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

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