Ad Age column: The open ad marketplace

I wrote a column for Ad Age proposing the need for an open ad marketplace to bring advertisers and bloggers together and to help support and explode this already exploding medium. I’ve written about this notion here; I’m delighted to get the chance to bring it to the people with the money.

It is just too difficult today for advertisers to join in the exploding world of blogs, podcasts, citizens’ media and the mass of niches. It’s hard for them to find the best and most relevant blogs, to measure and verify their audiences and to assure that they’re trusted. It’s harder still to reach the authors and negotiate rates. Though some blogs are in ad networks, they may not be the ones the marketers want most-and those networks may place ads the bloggers don’t want. Finally, serving the ads is a technical headache for both advertiser and blogger.

Yet I hear advertisers dying to reach customers via influential blogs, and I hear bloggers dying to get their money. This infant medium is growing fast. Media research firm PQMedia’s just-released study of blogs, podcasts and RSS pegged 2005 ad spending at $20.4 million and forecast a 145% rise this year, to $49.8 million, with growth of ads on user-generated content expected to continue at an annual rate of 106% through 2010.

Imagine if it were actually easy to buy ads there; citizens’ media would explode.

So how do we accomplish that? I propose an open ad marketplace that would allow advertisers to find the best blogs and bloggers to find the best ad deals.

(In case you have problems with the site’s on-and-off registration, another version is here.)


    The reason why blogs have become so powerful in recent times is because the authors did not have to worry about money. Bloggers could say whatever was there in their hearts without worrying about the consequences.

    The moment you start seeding the idea that you can make money out of blogs, its going to be a downward slide from there on. It has already begun. I read about 20-30 blogs everyday, and i can see the change. Many bloggers have already started making their blog content look like a disneyland story- piece rather than lend their own independent voice…or just some cut and paste ‘check this out’ stuff. Many of them even make new blogs hoping to catch the eye of particular advertisers.

    Its sad that even people like you are encouraging such practices. Its naive to think that the media folks/advertisers are just going to hand out money on a silver platter to the most influential bloggers with no strings attached. Some bloggers might hold their own ground. But many of them will capitulate to the sweet allure of green dough. No guesses needed to know what happens then.

    It just feeds the usual stereotype cynicism that people have that nothing can stay pure. Everything is bought out in the end. Name tags end up becoming price tags.

    And i am saying this inspite of working in the ad industry.

  • Mac

    Jeff — Excellent column. As someone who owns a blog network, I’m constantly fighting for industry legitimacy and a column like this could got a long way toward opening eyes.

    Moreover, your move toward a “trade group for citizens’ media” is, in my mind, the missing link in this equation. I’ve long thought that an organized effort could do wonders for this burgeoning industry.

  • Excellent column, Jeff.

    Over at Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits blog, I just alerted our readers to your column. I thought people from mainstream news/media organizations should have this on their radar screen because I see a possible synergy: that media orgs could become a sort of broker on the “systems of trust” aspect of the infrastructure you envision.

    And as for folks (like the previous commenter) who see any sort of business model or advertising in weblogs as shamful and polluting — Oh, puh-leeeeeze!

    There is nothing inherently wrong with advertising, and for good media to be self-sustaining it needs a revenue stream. Bloggers gotta eat, too! Besides, one of the beautiful things about weblogs and other types of online media is that you don’t absolutely need ads (or any revenue) to publish. Plenty of bloggers will continue to eschew ads, and that’s fine.

    Personally, I think having a system for blog advertising that’s efficient and effective for everyone involved will only enhance the quality of blogging overall.

    – Amy Gahran
    Editor, Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits

  • Context please. How does an advertiser chose a publication? Three reasons: Readership, Subject Matter and Continuity. I want a lot of eyeballs for my money. I want it surrounded by context in sync with my product/service ad. I want to know that the context doesn’t radically shift.

    I’d say that a model for blog advertising can possible address the first two. But the third is not very likely. Most blogs by their nature are too volatile.

    – Amanda Chapel

  • I like this idea a lot – I hope it can become a reality.

  • Jeff,
    Keep up the great work. We love seeing you evangelize our product over here at Triggit. Let me know the next time your in the Bay Area, I’d love to buy you lunch.


  • Instead of putting your message where people might see it, try inviting people to come look for themselves. But instead of trying to sell your products to your visitors, let your visitors sell themselves on your products.

    And give them reason to buy what you make not by shilling it, but by producing good product. Product that gets positive buzz. Produce quality, let people know where it can be purchased, and let them make up their own minds.

  • Jakob Lunden

    New software is out to address all of the factors advertisers need to gather data on the blogosphere. The journalism department at my college (Western Washington University) brought in a guest speaker whose company develops it. Initially it was a way for companies to track chatter about thier products. It measures links to other blogs in similar subjects and observes readership, so obviously advertising potentials abound. Offensively, it allows advertisers to better find thier niche, and defensively it safegards against allowing damaging information to be under the radar for long periods of time. The speaker mentioned Kryptonite brand bike locks, who were unaware of how notoriously flawed their products were until news made it to the mainstream media- three years after appearing on blogs.

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