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.