Money makes ze veb go around
It’s significant for two reasons: First, and most important this is a major brand using weblogs as a branding medium. That’s big, people. It took ages for major web publishers to convince big advertisers that the Internet could be a branding medium (that is, a place where you associate your brand with quality content to good effect, rather than merely going for clicks or direct response). That is why The Times’ Martin Nisenholtz had to create the Online Publishers Association. But here, Denton has created an environment suitable for branding, and Nike — a king of brands — bought it (for good bucks). That is great for the medium.
Second, Denton gave Nike a new and creative means of advertising with a custom blog. It’s a new form and needs to get its legs. It needs to learn how to involve and interact with the audience/public/consumers; it needs to find a voice that makes the blog compelling and is still compatible with the brand; it needs to surprise with links out into the Web and not just into Nike’s festival. The custom-published blog also needs to confirm that the audience understands this was bought (but Gawker’s content is not), which they accomplish with clear “advertising section” labels. What’s important is that a premier blogger saw the need and opportunity to serve a branded advertiser in a creative way.
: Rex Hammock, custom-publishing mogul, adds:
Since Nick Denton is today announcing that Gawker Media is launching a “contract publishing” service, I have decided to announce that Hammock Publishing is doing the same. Actually, we launched it about 13 years ago, but today seemed to be a good day to announce it….
As for Hammock Publishing, we anticipate launching our first “custom published” weblog later this summer. I will keep you posted. Promise.
: UPDATE: Frank Barnako at CBS Marketwatch (whose column I can NEVER find in their byzantine architecture, by the way) just sniped at Denton’s custom publishing. Frank quoted me starting off criticizing the effort and then praising the fact that a big brand is using the medium; I would have put that in the other order. When Frank called me as I wended my way to Better Burger in Manhattan (disappointing, I’m sorry to say) he complained first that Nick was a “charlatan” for putting up what really isn’t a blog. I first gave the speech above on the great news about big-name branding and then said, sure, it could be more bloggish. I told him that Nick and Remy know it’s a work in progress and they asked for suggestions. So I gave them a few (e.g., get other folks to review the films and blog that; link to some other things that are about the art of speed but don’t have to do with Nike or film, like, say, a beautiful picture of a fast horse from the Belmont). That, I said, is the easy part; the thing just started yesterday and it needs to interact with the audience but couldn’t until it went public. So I stand by what I said above.