As the world of “new new media” unfolds, consumers are in the driver’s seat, and the content they are creating–via blogs and social networks–is proving to be highly influential.
So how come advertising on blogs is so dirt cheap? Sure, not every blogger’s content is designed or even appropriate for hosting ad listings. And certainly, not every blogger with killer content desires to run AdSense. All the same, as more bloggers continue opening their sites up to contextual ads in an effort to monetize traffic, the balance of power will shift.
My hope? That more individuals will have the incentive to develop and contribute quality content–and that bloggers will command the bigger ad revenue that they deserve.
There has to be a balance between advertisers accessing the social media inventory that will perform and the influential bloggers getting paid what they deserve for aggregating quality traffic. Right now, there is an imbalance. More often than not, independent publishers creating compelling content are getting the short end of the stick. Advertisers haven’t found them yet because they are looking for the wrong things.
Recent trends speak for themselves. Consumers are leaving the major Internet hubs in droves and spreading themselves thinly across the very fragmented online media landscape. As people increasingly turn to blogs, social-networking sites, and other sources of user-generated media, the “big four”–Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Time Warner’s AOL–have spent more than $10 billion this year to acquire companies and technologies to extend their network reach to new and differentiated areas online.
Blogs represent a fairly large chunk of that new or differentiated inventory, which is often referred to as the “long tail.” Despite the phrase’s hype and overuse, it’s accurate to say “the tail” encompasses clusters of linking activity centered around influential hotspots–bloggers who command an audience on everything from tax advice and knitting to triathlon training and advice on high def TVs. The Internet, in a sense, has turned into a million “mini” Oprah Winfreys who have a strong pull with consumers. That is advertiser gold.
Despite being picked apart the last several years by marketers hungry to demystify their ad potential, blogs still have not attained real advertiser street cred. True, there have been some interesting industry developments on the blog monetization front–everything from pay per post to the birth of blog ad networks–yet, the jury is still out.