Political blogs in the UK are lashing together to create an ad network. That helps. But I’ll say it again and keep saying it: Advertisers won’t bother with a balkanized world of separate blog networks; we need an open ad marketplace to give them choice and control and to give us proper value.
Advertising Age has an amazingly story — amazingly bad — trying to assure advertisers that they don’t need to worry their not-so-little heads about all this digital stuff they hear. The moral to the story: Most people don’t read blogs or hear podcasts, so don’t bother. You’d expect me to get huffy about this and I will. First, I wonder whether Ad Age delivered similar bromides at this stage in the growth of cable and the VCR. Second, this only continues the myth that only mass matters. It doesn’t matter that most people don’t read blogs or hear podcasts. It never will. In a post-mass marketplace, you will have to look for audiences wherever they are. Yes, you should look on network TV … only you won’t find as many there as you used to. But to ignore not just these new media but also their potential is just stupid. Ad Age, you should be ashamed of yourself.
I’ve been trying to push media companies for a long time to expand their reach and targeting by putting together and selling ads on selected networks of blogs. The Washington Post is doing it; Steve Rubell does a good job of explaining what’s up. WKRN in Nashville, under the guidance of Terry Heaton and the leadership of Mike Sechrist did likewise sometime ago. Others are coming.
It is a win all around: The advertisers want someone to help them get into this strange world of blogs. The media organization wants to expand its reach and targeting (the Post — like every single newspaper, magazine, and online media company I know — needs more traffic and is thus seeking growth in technology, business, health, automotive and travel), establish a new relationship with the bloggeres, and make money along the way. The bloggers want to get money and promotion. A virtuous circle if there ever was one. Bravo to the Post.
GoogleMaps is offering local merchants the chance to add free, printable coupons to their listings there. Google will make money later by offering with keyword search ads. And they’re priming the pump with ValPak coupons.
This is a stake in the heart of local newspapers. Mind you, most of these small, local merchants never could afford to advertise in newspapers anyway because they are too big, too inefficient, and too expensive. But one of the promises of online was the opportunity to go hyperlocal — not just for content but, importantly, for advertising, to be able to target ads so finely and to eliminate the costs of sale and production so that these small guys could finally advertise with a newspaper company. That was one hope papers had for replacing the advertisers who have disappeared in classified, thanks to the internet, and retail, thanks to consolidation, Wal-Mart, and the internet, too. Strategically, some on the newspaper business understood this. But tactically — take it from me — it was nearly impossible to implement because newspaper business people are incapable of thinking small. They’ve spent so many years just maintaining big accounts that had nowhere else to advertise that they don’t know how to replace them with hundreds and then thousands of smaller accounts.
We tend to concentrate on the editorial side of newspapering when we lament the lack of progress to update the institutions. But editors are catching on. The problem is that publishers often are not. And they don’t have bloggers and consultants and professors and other obnoxious people pestering them at every turn. They just keep going to golf tournaments while Google steals their business. It’s time to pester the publishers. Wake up, gentlemen: You have a new neighbor.
LATER: And here‘s Peter Krasilovsky on the Google gambit.