Denton, the brand

Denton, the brand

: Nick Denton launched two new blogs today: Lifehacker (the software response to the hardware Gizmodo) and Gridskipper (a travel blog from the edges). But that’s not news. Heck, Dave Sifry told me he’s now tracking 40,000 new blogs a day (up from 15k only about a year ago).

What’s news is that Nick (a friend and business colleague of mine) signed up Sony for Lifehacker just as he signed up Audi for Jalopnik.

And here’s what’s newsworthy about that:

Since the internet started, many big-time publishers have struggled to convince big-time advertisers that this new medium is not just about direct response (click-through) but also about branding (that is, the value of associating your brand and product with a media brand — the reason to advertise in a glossy magazine with a classy audience, for example). That is why the Online Publishers Association was created.

But note what Denton has done twice: He got big-time advertisers to sign onto a product that didn’t even exist yet. Take it from a guy who started a magazine; that doesn’t happen. So why did they do it? Clearly, they wanted to be associated — branded — with the next, new, cool thing. Just being the first in equals branding. That is a value of this new medium: its newness.

Now that won’t last forever. One of my mentors in the magazine business said she never wanted to be what a famous creative director called hot models — the hot thing. For you don’t stay hot. But it’s clear that this new medium, executed cooly, has heat, has whuffie. And the fact that it comes from the people and is promoted by the people may be enough to keep its heat, its whuffieness, its branding power forever. We’ll see.

  • http://michaelzimmer.blogspot.com/ Michael Zimmer

    Given that Sony is “sponsoring” the blog, would you suspect that their agreement has language that prevents the blog from any type of “excessive” criticism of Sony or its products? Or anything that would guarantee Sony gets “equal time” in discussions of certain product types (MP3 players, etc).
    Not trying to start a conspiracy theory here, but just wondering if such arrangements would be considered “typical” within such media sponsorship relationships.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Michael: I have no idea about the contract; you should ask Nick. But I do know that at a session with Denton and Calacanis I moderated in NY, Denton said he lost sponsors for featuring such things as bicycle dildoes.

  • http://www.blackincventures.com Brad

    I am the partner at BlackInc Ventures who signed this deal on Gawker’s behalf. I can tell you unequivocally that Sony has no control over the editorial content of the Lifehacker site. Further, Nick Denton knows how critical editorial credibility is for attracting a large audience, which in turn provides value for marketers who wish to reach that audience.
    Media businesses that have previously crossed the line between “church and state”, or have blurred it on a regular basis, have quickly lost credibility, their audiences, and ulitimately their advertisers.
    Further, smart marketers like Sony understand this important dynamic, and stay away from trying to influence editorial decisions.

  • http://www.blackincventures.com Brad Bowers

    I am the partner at BlackInc Ventures who signed this deal on Gawker’s behalf. I can tell you unequivocally that Sony has no control over the editorial content of the Lifehacker site. Further, Nick Denton knows how critical editorial credibility is for attracting a large audience, which in turn provides value for marketers who wish to reach that audience.
    Media businesses that have previously crossed the line between “church and state”, or have blurred it on a regular basis, have quickly lost credibility, their audiences, and ulitimately their advertisers.
    Further, smart marketers like Sony understand this important dynamic, and stay away from trying to influence editorial decisions.

  • http://www.davidgalbraith.org David Galbraith

    Now that’s even smarter – people involved in a brand marketing deal watching comments on blogs. If news is a conversation, as Jeff says, then marketing and PR certainly are.

  • http://www.richlamphear.com Rich

    It’s interesting to see Gawker Media draw all of this commercial attention with what seems to me a slick, but lowest-common-denominator approach to blogging. So far Lifehacker’s posts are mostly yesterday’s news to anyone who is even peripherally in touch with the world of current shareware. Even fleshbot is pretty boring as sexblogs go :) The whole thing strikes me as the “Entertainment Tonight” of the blogging world. I guess that’s why established commercial interests are attracted to it. Interesting to see whether this conservative of an approach will work in a blogosphere that’s being heralded as a hub of the new “exploding” media experience.

  • brian

    from what I’ve seen of lifehacker, it is not much better than reposts of product descriptions and press releases. I hope Gina (the editor) finds an authentic voice soon or Lifehacker will be relegated to the dustbin.

  • http://www.dustbury.com/ CGHill

    And as of the first of the year, Jalopnik’s sponsor is the automotive section of The New York Times.

  • http://www.gapingvoid.com hugh macleod

    Rock on, Nick Denton!
    Gawker is not in the business of getting linklove from the blogosphere geeks.
    Gawker is in the business of getting money from the New York media world.
    Two different criteria altogether.

  • Bill Peschel

    Agree, Hugh. After all *somebody’s* got to be the ET of the blogworld. Why not Nick?