Open-source ad tags calls: Followup

Open-source ad tags calls: Followup

: A few notes on my call for an open-source ad tag:

: I called them open-source ad tags because that’s common media jargon now. But the word “tag” is so loaded with flickers of Flickr that I think it’s a misnomer. This is really just about putting a call (an include) on a page to insert an ad, with data about the opportunity attached. So how about “open-source ad call”?

: Amy Langfield sent email letting me know that BlogAds’ Henry Copeland has started some specialized ad networks. [I can hear Henry growing: If you’d call once in awhile, Jarvis, you wouldn’t have to hear these things second-hand. But more on that in a minute.]

Blogads now has a specialized network for New York blogs and another growing network for gay blogs. Each is just a start but a great start.

Advertisers will want to buy networks of similar blogs to get to a critical mass of audience that’s worth their effort. This means that being part of a network beats selling ads alone.

When other folks have asked me how I think they should start such ad networks, I’ve sent them to Henry and I’m delighted he’s starting them.

: I want to make sure I’m clear on one point about my open-source ad call notion: This does not in any way replace existing networks — BlogAds, Burst, etc. Instead, I hope it would send more business their way.

Let’s say you’re a New York blogger in the BlogAds New York network but you also write about travel (hello: Amy) and along comes an advertiser wanting East Coast blogs about travel. Let’s say the advertiser wants 100 of them and there’s no established network, like the New York one, that already exists and, besides, the advertiser wants to pick the blogs on a number of criteria (traffick, topics, location, Technorati authority, and so on). The idea is that with an open-source call, you could join that network through the BlogAds network; it simply makes you eligible for more (and if they’re properly targeted, better) ads.

Sitting out there on your own and trying to sell ads on your lone weblog won’t work. Handing over space to Google AdWords will get some revenue — but on the lowest rung of the value chain. It’s far better to join a BlogAds or a Burst. And it’s better yet to also be able to join in ad hoc quality blog networks agencies, advertisers, and media companies could put together … if there were a standard, open-source ad call.

See the post below for more.

: Fred Wilson likens the open-source ad call to sell-side advertising. Not to quibble, but they’re actually two different things:

In sell-side advertising, the advertiser puts an ad out on the web and publishers (bloggers, media companies) select the ads to place on their sites and they get paid only if the ads perform with clicks. In this case, the publishers are selecting the ads.

In open-source ad calls, the publisher (blogger, media company) makes an ad space available to advertisers (or their agencies). In this case, the advertisers are selecting the publishers’ sites.

What open-source ad calls allow is for advertisers, agencies, and media companies to put together selected, quality ad hoc (which is to say temporary) networks of sites based on any number of criteria (data that will be associated with the site and its ad call).

I know from meeting with advertisers in my BlogBoy routine that they want to do just that, only the means don’t fully exist today to allow it. And that means we’re leaving money on the table, as they say.

: Searchviews says there’s a danger of spam. Well, in life today, there’s always a danger of spam. But I’m not so sure that’s a killer problem here for two reasons:

First, in either sell-side advertising or with open-source ad calls, I imagine that most advertising will pay only on a performance basis. The fraud, in that case, is about manufacturing clicks, but that’s a different problem.

Second, I would bet that most of these ad hoc networks using open-source ad calls would be put together manually by agencies and media companies wanting to offer advertisers “safe” and “relevant” networks. So you could spam and say you have a site about great art. But when it turns out to be tattoo art, someone will see it.

: Susan Mernit also weighs in. See also AdJab.

: Mark Pincus has a not-unrelated concept about open-source people tags.

: Finally, if I do all this speculating about ads on blogs, how come I don’t have them? I’m lazy and disorganized and I have a day job. I was also going to redesign the site first, but I’ll get around to that sometime after I clean out my in-box and my car.

But I do realize that to learn about how this really works, I need to start taking ads. So I’m about to sign up for BlogAds [yes, Henry, I’ll call!] and I’ll experiment with others (Burst, AdSense, Kanoodle, FeedDirrect RSS ads [full disclosure: I’m on the Moreover board and Moreover is behind FeedDirect]).

Just one question: I have no idea what to charge. I once accused Glenn Reynolds of devaluing the CPM for all of citizens’ media, but it appears on that he has raised his rates. I’m curious whether anyone has analyzed existing rates on citizens’ media ads.

  • http://bushout.blogspot.com gandhi

    This is all about controlling the message.
    Jeff’s warblogging buddies get annoyed coz they can’t stop anti-war messages popping up unless they want to drop advertising (through Blogads anyway).
    The New York Times today has a lengthy disclosure of how the Bush machine is controlling propaganda.
    And Jeff still hasn’t even tried explaining his role in the Eason Jordan witch-hunt.
    Look around, folks. You are being fed synchronized lies from all directions…

  • bago

    XML. It’s built for this purpose. Need an arbitrary tag? Define it and attach behavior to it.

  • http://hubris.typepad.com Hubris

    gandhi, when you put butter on your toast in the morning, do you hear the toast talking to you about the war? Just curious.

  • http://punditdrome.com Scott Ferguson

    I’ve decided that I’m going to be selling ads directly on my site (punditdrome.com) rather than relying on blogads or google or kanoodle or whatever.
    Aside from the fact that Henry never seems to get around to responding to my request for a blogads placement, I am finding that the quality of the ads served up by such broker services is really low.
    By “quality,” I mean of interest to my site’s readership. Stupid ads = low clickthru rates. More importantly, lousy ads don’t add intrinsic value to the site. You may think that it’s strange to evaluate ads with the same criteria that editorial content is judged, but consider that many “dead tree” magazines that are valuable PRECISELY because they have good ads — Computerworld, InfoWorld, any car or motorcycle magazine — in fact, most specialty publications. Websites, too, draw users with specific profiles; and ads that speak to the needs of the user community enhance the site’s overall appeal.
    In website advertising, it seems like the only game in town is more clicks or more eyeballs = more revenue. You either get huge numbers or you starve. (BTW, has anybody else finally figured out that Google’s $100 minimum for writing an Adsense check amounts to a HUGE revenue skim? The FTC ought to look into it.)
    I think that there is a third way. By not relying on a broker for ads, and selling ads yourself, you have greater control over your site’s content. Moreover, you have the potential to charge a MUCH higher ad-per-eyeball rate, because your carefully-cultivated advertiser base is willing to pay a premium to reach your specific community. This is the community newspaper model for generating revenue. I think it can be profitable in the context of a web-based community too. Sure, it takes more work than dumping some ad broker code on your site, but if your site isn’t getting 10,000 hits or more a day, what are your alternatives?

  • http://ari.typepad.com Steve Rhodes

    As far as your rates, since you’re experimenting and don’t need the income, set them low so you have a full inventory of ads.
    With more ads, you’ll be able to learn more.