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FM #2 on Blog Network List

BlogMedia, Inc., has started tracking leading blogs & top networks of blogs based on audience size, Google PageRank, Technorati in-bound link counts, etc. Their stated mission is to “look at various ways to track and rank the performance of the many blog networks dotting the landscape today. It’s our goal to be the most comprehensive source of metrics and analysis for the blog network world.”

I’m thrilled to see Federated Media at #2! Here’s the full list: Blog Network List

Viral Marketing Done Right

Back in September, Steve Hall at AdRants wrote about an odd viral campaign for a Dutch newspaper (AdRants post). Steve didn’t know what the Dutch newspaper’s message was, but he called the “viral” part a success — because the editors at Boing Boing linked to the story. Ie, edit coverage by Boing Boing equals a viral home run.

Today, Boing Boing editor Xeni Jardin kicked off another viral success story (Xeni’s post), this time for a brand that wasn’t pulling zany stunts in order to “go viral”:

“I haven’t done this before, but wanted to share a personal anecdote involving one of Boing Boing’s sponsors — Quikbook.com. Recently, I needed to find a hotel room in a *totally* sold out city at the last minute. I had no luck with the travel websites and bucket shops I usually turn to for hotel booking. Just when it looked like a $900/night janitor’s closet at the Podunk Craquehaus was my only option, I remembered the Quikbook ad on Boing Boing. I clicked tentatively, ended up booking a great room at an impossibly sold-out upscale hipster property — at a really nice discount off the rack rate. I’m absolutely planning to use them again. Also, Quikbook smells nice and has great hair.”

Unlike most wanna-be viral campaigns, Quikbook used plain old advertising. They did make an effort to let Boing Boing’s readers — an audience which, obviously enough, includes the site’s 4 editors — know that their ad didn’t end up on the site by accident: They played off Boing Boing’s tagline by referring to themselves as “A directory of wonderful hotels.” Not exactly a ground-breaking marketing tactic, but rather one that has been working wonders for over 50 years.

Nor did they disrepect the journalists at Boing Boing with requests for editorial coverage in exchange for ad dollars. They just bought an ad on the site and used the real estate to tell Boing Boing readers exactly what they do. No viral gimmicks and no sleazy tactics.

Meanwhile, Quikbook’s web servers are overheating right now because Xeni pointed the 2 million people who read Boing Boing (and another 1.3 million who subscribe to Boing Boing’s feed) to their site with an unsolicited rave review.

(Disclosure: Federated Media, my employer, handles ads sales & other business stuff for Boing Boing.)

Print Newspapers: “21st Century Equivalent of Running a Record Company Specializing in Vinyl”

That’s the word from Andrew Gowers, the recently departed editor of The Financial Times (see AdAge). But the digital editions alone don’t make enough money yet to support the current news-gathering infrastructure at conventional newspapers, so the worry — at least according to the journalists who write about the situation for their conventional newspapers — is that quality, hard-hitting journalism is headed for extinction.

Advertising Age executive editor Johan Bloom, however, includes the perspective of Rafat Ali, a veteran of both print and online publications, who points out that while the organizational structure at conventional newspapers won’t survive the Internet, quality news journalism certainly will:

“The answer more likely lies in a wholesale shift in the journalism model and mind-set. Rafat Ali, who runs Paidcontent.org — a site devoted to new media models — is an advocate of this Journalism 2.0. In the world he describes, editors would stop wasting resources by ordering reporters to re-create existing stories, instead accepting that part of the role of their news sites is to aggregate the most relevant content regardless of its origins. That would free up time for news reporters to dig up genuinely original stories — aka, er, news! Pay structures and cultures would encourage journalists to be more entrepreneurial.”

Yahoo Buys Delicious

Mike Arrington has the scoop at TechCrunch.

Taken together with Yahoo’s acquisition of Flickr earlier this year, this deal is another step in Yahoo’s march to regain some mojo in search. They’re betting that user-generated content tags will deliver better search results than Google’s index of Web’s link structure.

I bet they also plan to integrate these tags with their ad server. One day soon, the collective brain of the Internet’s users will create highly targeted ad rotations.

Podcasters Dawn & Drew Quit Day Jobs

According to The San Jose Merc, Drew Domkus is making enough money from ads in “The Dawn & Drew Show” that he quit his job. Congrats, Drew! I hope there will be more where that came from. The gang at “Mommycast” is also putting up big numbers:

“Virginia moms Paige Heniger and Gretchen Vogelzang began ‘Mommycast’ — a show about the joys and travails of motherhood — in March. The pair has quickly become podcasting stars, drawing hundreds of thousands of listeners a month and appearing on national news shows.”

“In November, the duo announced what is perhaps the most lucrative podcasting marketing deal to date — a 12-month sponsorship agreement with Dixie paper products, worth more than $100,000.”

Product Placement, Right Into Kids' Imaginations

In June Nickelodeon-parent Viacom bought Neopets for $160 million — $6.4 million per member. That’s a lot of money. But since 80% of those members are under 18, Viacom has plenty of time to recoup its investment. From Wired’s “The Neopets Addiction”:

“For Viacom, the main draw is the site’s advertising model. In a world of TiVo, pop-up blockers, and satellite radio, where it keeps getting harder to reach people with ads, Neopets collapses the boundaries between content and commercials. Many zones in the vast make-believe world, like the Firefly Mobile Phone Zone, are sponsored by companies, and there are branded games like Nestlé Ice Cream Frozen Flights and Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Sandwich Snackers. Tyler likes to play McDonald’s: Meal Hunt, in which he searches for lost McNuggets. Jana Gagen, his mom, says they’ve been taking more trips to the real-world McDonald’s ever since Tyler started racking up NeoPoints in the restaurant’s online game. ‘We go to get the Neopets toys,’ she says. The tie-in merchandise comes with Happy Meals.

Neopets calls its model ‘immersive advertising’ and hypes it in a press kit as ‘an evolutionary step forward in the traditional marketing practice of product placement.’”

Mag Industry: Let's Stop Fudging Our Numbers

When I present advertisers with readership numbers from server logs cross-referenced by ad-server counts, I get these “yeah, whatever” nods. Like they’ll believe my numbers when I have certified, audited numbers like traditional magazines have. But I’m not sure I want certified, audited numbers like that! In AdAge today, MPA chairman Jack Kliger calls for more transparency:

“With the industry’s largest player, Time Inc., currently cooperating with federal authorities investigating impropriety in circulation practices, Jack Kliger, Magazine Publishers of America chairman and president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., called for the industry to clean up its act.

More on print circulation inflation:

The Newsday scandal in their own words. An excerpt:

“But the operation was a sham — an elaborate ruse orchestrated by some circulation managers to fool auditors investigating claims that Newsday had fraudulently boosted its circulation, according to Newsday’s independent home-delivery agents who participated in the scheme and two others who are familiar with it.”

Sally Falkow (Sally Falkow’s WebsiteContentStrategy) connects the practice of fluffing print-circulation numbers to the shift in media spending to the Internet:

“NewsDay has admitted that it had inflated its circulation by about 100,000 copies on weekdays and Sunday for the 12 months ended September 2003; Hoy’s circulation was inflated by 45,000 copies during the same period. Parent Tribune Co. has set aside $90 million to reimburse advertisers who paid for fraudulently inflated circulation…. Online ad spend has been up eight week in a row. In the fourth quarter of 2004, online advertising reached a new high of $2.7 billion, according to independent research conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers for the Internet Advertising Bureau. This steady climb was further supported by strong Q1 2005 earnings from Yahoo and Google, indicating a solid resurgence for online advertising. Seems to me these might be connected.”

Not a bad guess.