You are currently browsing the archives for September, 2006.

Why Doesn't Anyone Ask: If Content Is Printed On Paper, Is It Niche?

Heidi Dawley’s recent piece in Media Life, “For blogs, the real future is a ways off,” has this for a subtitle: “Though written off by many as ad vehicles.”

For “most blogs,” like ChasNote here, sure. With my few thousand readers (thank you all!), I have no plans of going public anytime soon. Nor is ChasNote on the Q4 ad buy from General Motors or HP. But as for the 40.4% of media buyers surveyed by Media Life who agreed with this statement — “I see blogs stagnating and becoming passé. They will never be a great place to advertise, they’re too unpredictable” — they’re being asked a silly question.

That’s like asking “Do you think making ads in the HD DVD format is a good idea?” It’s not relevant whether you like the HD DVD format (versus Blu Ray or the plain old cathode-tube TV format); what’s relevant is “Do my customers

spend their evenings in front of TV programming formatted in HD DVD?” The answer should be, “I like what they like, and you’ll see my ads following those customers wherever they go.”

If you frame the question about blogs in a similar way, you’ll get a much different answer.

Dawley’s article ends with Nielsen / NetRatings numbers from September 18. Among the top 25 brands online MySpace is #7, Wikipedia is #14, YouTube is #16 and is #17. While that list doesn’t include any FM partner sites just yet, Digg (8,500,000 uniques), Boing Boing (2,200,000 uniques) and Dooce (800,000 uniques) aren’t exactly small either. Should marketers care that 100,000,000 young people have MySpace profiles? Should marketers care that more than 11 million people watch videos on YouTube every week? If we care about our jobs, we had damn well better care. Should we care whether Boing Boing is published using Word Press of Movable Type? I don’t think so.

So while small blog sites with specialized content are best thought of us a niche marketing oppotunities, just as are small print magazines with specialized content or small cable networks with specialized content, large-reach blogs can be reach marketing vehicles. It feels sorta stupid to write a sentence like that. But until 100% of media and marketing folks (rather than 44.7%, according to Media Life’s survey) agree with this obvious statement — “As long as blogs continue to grow and evolve and demonstrate more professionalism, they will be more accepted as an advertising medium” — the ChasNote crusade will continue.

Does Online Advertising Make Sense?

That’s the headline at Sacramento Executive, in an article that questions Logo Jeez’s choice to sponsor TechCrunch. (Caveat, FM earned commission for putting the sponsorship deal together.)

“Does online advertising make sense? That was going to be my topic for this post. This morning I sat down at my computer and decided to write about Why? Because Logo Jeez is one of six advertisers, spending $10,000 per month to advertise this ad on I was fascinated that a company I had never heard of would spend that kind of money on advertising.”

I posted this comment to the story:

I run sponsorship & ad sales for Federated Media, a company that works with TechCrunch to help build & sell marketing programs. While I can’t disclose exact figures regarding the Logo Jeez deal, I’d like to share a recent (and public) case study from another adveriser on TechCrunch, Adobe. From a post at my site, ChasNote:

…Adobe has been running ads for Flex 2 on TechCrunch (an FM site), and caught the attention of blogger Ryan Stewart (Digital Backcountry). Folks at Adobe must be thrilled that their ads are driving editorial coverage by influential authors.

The bummer is that Ryan really didn’t like the banner creative. “How can a company so ‘in’ with designers have such horrible advertising? I don’t get it? Do these appeal to anyone? Am I crazy?” Instead of hiding their heads in the sand, though, the Adobe team took this an opportunity to learn from and engage with a core group of customers. Here’s Jeff Whatcott, Sr. Director, Product Marketing for Adobe’s Enterprise & Developer Busines Unit…. [His full post is at the link above]

Marketing — online or offline — isn’t only about getting people to click to your site or call your sales department. There’s benefit to engaging core members of your professional community in a conversation, to listen to them, to get smarter about the kinds of products & services they need. Logo Jeez sees value in building brand awareness and positive buzz among the influential folks who read TechCrunch, a crew of powerbrokers that will come in handy as LogoJeez launches their company and markets their products to customers.

To that point, the author of the Sac Exec article, Pierre Cutler, himself admits — right there in the second paragraph — “I simply had to know more about Logo Jeez.” Maybe Logo Jeez is getting more value from their TechCrunch sponsorship that Cutler gives them credit for!

Digg, Techdirt and Techmeme Launch RSS-Powered Ads

Yesterday I came across a few articles covering the new “Techmeme Sponsored Posts” — ads populated with content from the sponsor’s RSS feed. (Here’s coverage at the Business 2.0 Blog and at BuzzMachine.)

I absolutely love this concept. It’s the opposite of what Google recommends for its CPC advertisers (that is, don’t put too much info in your ads or Google will pull them out of rotation because of poor click-through performance). It’s advertisers adding value to content sites by contributing real, live content


From the page thanking the first three sponsors, I see that they are oDesk, SocialText and Wink, but I can’t see them on the right side of Techmeme. [Correction: The ads are up and running on the right side of the Techmeme home page.] Meanwhile, also on Monday, Symantec launched their own RSS ads, refreshed with content from Symantec’s Security Response Weblog, on Techdirt (the box at the upper right of the homepage) and on comments pages in the tech section of Digg.

Shame on us for not getting the news out faster!

Google Optimizes Away from Brand Building Programs

Great column by David Berkowitz at MediaPost’s SearchInsider called “Google to PPC Branding: Drop Dead.” Even as Google makes moves that suggest it wants a piece of brand-advertising pie (the addition of site-specific graphical ads to AdSense, hiring the former president of Time Mag, etc.), it continues to show an aversion to advertising that attempts to pursuade (brand advertising) in favor of ads that fulfill on existing demand (direct response advertising). He cites Google’s own advice, published at the Inside Adwords blog:

“If your ad fully conveys your message without requiring the user to click through to your site, this could lower your overall quality score and in turn signal our system to not serve your ad.”

Advertisers should intentionally hold back information from their prospective customers unless they click to the advertiser’s site? Keep their value propositions a secret to all but those eager customers who click on their ads? Wow, that’s downright hostile to the idea of building awareness, not to mention annoying.

Further, Google has refined its algorithm to remove from results pages ads that don’t receive enough clicks. Here’s the penalty for those advertisers who disclose too much information in their ads!

“This could prevent top-ranked ads that appear most prominently from providing any potential branding value. Do ads in the top three positions (when there are three top positions) contribute to branding? Do they even play a subtle role, noticeable in aggregate, on sales? Do they give consumers a sense of confidence in the search results by showing a familiar brand there? Do they introduce consumers to new brands that the consumer hadn’t previously associated with that search query? Yahoo, in its collateral, reports extensively on how search marketing is one of the most effective ways of introducing consumers to new brands, with search being even more effective than word of mouth in some circumstances.”

BW's Best Blogs — BoingBoing, TechCrunch, Paul Kedrosky, Internet Outsider

There are others, too, BusinessWeek. I just called out my favorites. :)

Relevancy, Targeting & The Brand Marketer’s Dilemma

Joe Marchese’s guest post at MediaPost explores the conflict between the search-ad networks’ desire to expand their market from CPC direct-response advertisers into the larger market of CPM-paying brand advertisers. What has made Google and the others successful to date, according to Joe, is “relevancy,” — delivering ads that match the content on the page so that readers experience the ads as content — not traditional “targeting.” But brand advertisers want targeting, they want to coax prospective buyers into considering their products before they start researching those products on their own. To get in front of that prospective Prius driver before he or she starts thinking about a new car, brand advertisers need to target audiences based on a demographic or psychographic profile.

“So what is the missing link between the brand advertiser’s need to increase reach online, television’s reach/ad value being increasingly compromised, and search ad networks’ desire to attract these brand advertisers’ online budgets? The link is a whole new system for determining relevancy of brand advertisements–a system that will create a market for brand advertisements and facilitate the rethinking of the advertising ecosystem, taking into account brand advertisement goals as well as the intentions of the ecosystem’s participants and their effects on a market for brand advertisements.”

At FM, we use a human-powered system to bring relevancy to targeted brand advertising campaigns. It works like this: Brand advertisers buy space on FM partner sites based on demographics, psychographics and content fit, and then — not always, but more and more often — those brand advertisers are inviting FM’s authors (or their readers) to shape the creative messages. The marketers target the ads; the media creators and consumers make those ads relevant.

YouTube Hires Suzie Reider from CNET

CNET confirms that Suzie Reider has left her post as EVP and general manager of CNET’s entertainment group (Gamespot, MP3, etc), a position she took over recently after Vince Broady left CNET for Yahoo. “According to our sources,” says Rafat at PaidContent, she’s joined YouTube to run sales and marketing as CMO.

AdBrite, BlogAds *Much* Bigger Than FM

AdBrite recently signed their 20,000th publisher site, according to ClickZ, and BlogAds is “migrating to a more robust platform that will allow it to accommodate more sites and a larger ad volume.”

Meanwhile FM, with its mere 85 sites, is slowing down the pace at which it adds new publishers. Trouble in Paradise? Well, according to John Battelle, FM’s founder and my boss, here’s why: “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.”

The difference between FM’s model — fewer sites that are selected for quality content and influential voices, and a commitment to human-based service to authors and advertisers — and the broad online ad networks is becoming more apparent. In the words of ClickZ’s Zachary Rodgers, “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.”

Fast-Forward-Proof 30-Sec Spots (Almost)

Fox has begun to run static 30-second commercials so PVR users who fast forward commercials will still get the message. (Techdirt pointed me to SignOnSanDiego for this news.)

“U.K. advertisements for Fox’s new drama, ‘Brotherhood,’ which premieres in Britain in October, simply shows an image of Providence, R.I., where the show is set, and the program’s logo. Viewers fast-forwarding through the ad would see the image for a few seconds; those watching it normally would hear dialogue from the show in the background.”

Mike at Techdirt has it right:

“It seems like the TV execs are still focused on the wrong thing: figuring out how to force DVR users to watch traditional commercials, rather than figuring out ways to deliver advertising that doesn’t piss people off so much that they want to skip it.”

Mobile TV Viewership Grows to 3.7MM Subscribers

The Center for Media Research cites a Telephia study on the growth of mobile TV watching:

“According to Telephia, researcher to communications and new media markets, the mobile TV audience grew 45 percent to 3.7 million subscribers in Q2 2006. The third screen allows consumers to get news and information while on the go, with news, weather and sports channels topping the list as the most watched mobile TV content. Total quarterly mobile TV revenues increased to $86 million last quarter, an increase of 67 percent since Q1.”

ABC News leads the pack among mobile TV watchers in Q2 2006, with 40 percent of the total mobile TV audience. The other leaders are The Weather Channel, Fox Sports, ESPN, Fox News and NBC Mobile News. Interestingly, Comedy Central — which skews younger than ABC, Fox or NBC among news watchers — placed behind the others, with 16% of the mobile TV audience compared to ABC’s 40%.