“Rebel Yell” may no longer be the theme song of bloggers.
Journalist Louise Story wrote an insightful article recently in the New York Times about the growth in the number of bloggers who accept advertising on their blogs. If you do much surfing of blogs you may have noticed the increasing prevalence of advertising in blogs. Certainly among the business blogs out there, most that I visit at least have some Google AdSense ads on their blogs.
The article happened to have quoted me. That is not why I think it is a good article. Rather, Louise picked up on a trend, that truly reflects a change in bloggers’ attitudes from just a year or so ago:
When Anita Campbell started her Web log about small-business trends two years ago, she thought it would simply be a service for her clients and help her consulting business grow.
Instead, she said, the blog “just took off,” attracting more readers than she had dreamed of. Then, companies offered to pay her to post advertisements and product mentions on her site. There were enough offers, she said, that she could choose to work with only the ones relevant to her readers. And so, her blog, once just a marketing tool, became a money generator on its own.
“I never try to hide the fact that I am writing about an advertiser,” she said in an e-mail statement. “But I also don’t apologize for accepting advertising, and I make it clear that just like everyone else I have to earn a living and pay the expenses of keeping the site going.”
After beginning as a vehicle for anti-establishment, noncommercial writers, many Web logs have laid out welcome mats for corporate America in the last couple of years. No one tracks how much advertising money is flowing to Web logs. Nor is it clear how many bloggers, like Ms. Campbell, disclose their sponsors. But when writers have not been completely open, their fellow bloggers have been quick to criticize.
My philosophy about advertising is to limit the number and type of ads so that they are not overly intrusive. It is important to strike a balance between moneymaking and site usefulness.
One of the advantages of blogs over mainstream media sites is that blogs tend not to have nearly as many intrusive ads. Some well-known magazine sites now have so many ads moving across the page, popping up or automatically launching videos or covering content, that it is downright unpleasant for the reader. I do not even bother to link to articles in certain business magazine websites anymore, because it pains me to send visitors to have to run the gauntlet to read anything on their sites.
Also, this is an important point often overlooked in the “to advertise or not to advertise” debates: carefully chosen ads that are relevant to your readers can actually provide a service to readers. Readers view them as a wonderful thing.
Think I’m joking?
Take a look at the “free magazines” ad block over on the left side. I get paid a small amount of money whenever someone subscribes to a trade publication or a free white paper. You the reader pay nothing — and you get some free publications. I have had so many raves and thank you’s for the trade publications, I have lost count.
This is an example of an advertisement or sponsorship being a valuable service to readers. Not every moneymaking program in a site needs to be an irritant.