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Archive for March, 2004

Huffington: blogs break through the din of our 500 channel universe

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Arianna Huffington writes: “The blogosphere is now the most vital news source in our country. I’ve toiled in the world of books and syndicated column writing, but more liberating is the blogosphere, where the random thought is honored, and where passion reigns. While paid journalists often just follow a candidate around or sit in the White House press room and rehash a schedule, blogs break through the din of our 500 channel universe and the narrow conventional wisdom. For that the blogosphere has my undying gratitude.”

Political blogads: fad or phenom?

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Charles Kuffner has some answers from campaign staffers.

Meanwhile, the pilot fish of political blogads — the t-shirt seller — is still thriving. I got this message the other day from Stephen Bach, who is selling piles of Dude, where’s my weapons? T-shirts thanks to his blogad on Talkingpointsmemo: “The response has been incredible! P.S. I Googled ‘Dude Where’s My Weapons’ and found my t-shirt picture on two other political blogs, WITH a link to my site. Viral marketing is a wonderful thing!”

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BTW, for all you folks who think that bigger is better in web-design — the simple landing page for Stephen’s ad (the page you see after you click) is a great example of how to do things right:

– we get punched in the face with Stephen’s offer: 90% of the visual communication is about his product.

– an unadorned design keeps the visitor focused on doing just one thing: acting. Think of the landing page as a bull’s eye that has just one logical outcome, not as a supermarket that promotes 57 distractions.

– the page should look neat and professional, but not too nice. An occassional rough edge emphasizes the human beings behind the HTML and lets customers know that their money is being spent on better products and not cutting edge web design.

A bullseye landing page can make the difference between just recouping your ad spend and making a five or ten-fold return.

Dealing with various blog advertiers, I’ve seen that these lessons apply whether you are selling t-shirts, fund raising for candidates or enlisting partisans for a cause.

Of course, some very fancy designs can work well too, but the risk/reward definitely suggests that money spent on design frills won’t increase your returns.

To put it another way, if you’ve got $4000 to spend on “blog advertising,” you should spend $500 on designing five good ad images, $600 writing good copy for the landing page, $100 designing a landing page and $2700 on ad space on blogs. (You can save on the landing page copy by cannibalizing some of your direct mail copy.)

Update: Later in the day, I called up Bach. Turns out he’s been doing marketing for 20 years. Rather than beginner’s luck, his brutally simple landing page is a tested and refined customer catcher.

Fun for a Friday afternoon

by henrycopeland
Friday, March 26th, 2004

Strange things happen when people are the media.

Amy Langfield stands in line on Times Square for theater tix and makes a weird weird electronic connection with a college friend in LA. Imagine what happens when you combine Orkut with GPS.

Bizarre tales from the Internet…

by henrycopeland
Friday, March 26th, 2004

“Secret” advertising on blogs? — Kos comments. Here’s a random $75 response.

Blog business at Harvard

by henrycopeland
Thursday, March 25th, 2004

Jeff Jarvis is leading a session on “the business of blogging” at the Harvard Bloggercon symposium this year.

My own view is that there’s going to be little “business of blogging” other than the flow of revenues to individuals and small groups of writers selling advertisers access their audiences. And, obviously, I believe the Blogads network — some of America’s smartest writers allied together — is helping make that happen.

I’ve been raving about blog advertising for nearly two years. I’m glad the Harvard poohbahs will finally get to hear about it.

Bruner outsources copyediting

by henrycopeland
Thursday, March 25th, 2004

Rick Bruner, who spells as bad as me, is rewarding readers who highlight his mistakes. Yes, yet another slash in the ongoing drawing and quartering of corporate media. “This may seem like a self-effacing bid for greater accountability, but in fact it’s a shameless attempt to build community, get some comments and compel people to actually read my posts closely,” writes Rick. Go pick some of Rick’s nits.

Goddard’s newest game…

by henrycopeland
Thursday, March 25th, 2004

Taegan Goddard, proprieter of PoliticalWire has just launched an aggregator, updating hourly, pulling together headlines from blogs on the left and right.

Bookstore up for Auction

by henrycopeland
Thursday, March 25th, 2004

Sometimes I see a blogad that blows me away. Only on blogs, I think. This is one of them:

“The legendary store Science Fiction, Mysteries, and More in lower Manhattan closed 3 years ago, and after being unable to find a new location, decided to liquidate everything. Over 4000 new paperbacks, available individually or in lots, all must go; this lot ends 4/15!”

The ad is running on the blogs of a pair of science fiction editors, a wife and husband team.

Virginia Postrel selling blogads

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, March 24th, 2004

Author Virginia Postrel is selling blogads… go buy from her. Also, an inside tip: the traffic numbers for TAPPed don’t yet register the site’s full traffic, so the one week ads are underpriced. Buy an ad fast if you like good deals.

Politics and advertising

by henrycopeland
Monday, March 22nd, 2004

An overview of political blogads in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. (Userid/pw: blogads.) The lead is a fun one: “Who wouldn’t love this kind of payoff? Invest $2,000 in an obscure concept that has no track record and watch $80,000 pour into your bank account in a mere three weeks. Bonus: The money helps win you a congressional seat.”

“An obscure concept that has no track record”… hmm, I wonder if we should trademark that?

Friday, I spent an amazing day at George Washington University’s internet and politics conference.

The highpoint was the final debate: is the Internet best used as a tool for control and organization or as a tool for individuals to express their automony and/or self-organize? Zack Exley of Moveon.org and Phil Hendon of RightMarch.com spoke pro-control against David Weinberger and Markos Moulitas laid out the case that the web’s anarchic or self-organizing principles are more powerful.

Although Prof. Weinberger pounded the table and shouted at the gathered 300 consultants and poohbahs, “I am not a consumer of your political products, I am a citizen!” the general debate was alarmingly civil; both camps ended up saying “we agree with the other guys, the web is about top-down organization and self-organization.”

To hell with moderation! To round out the dialectical dance, I argued that the either control or self-organization will win; either we’ll have politics a la Microsoft or open source.

Why? The dominant model will achieve network effects and squeeze the second model out. Which is to say: the model that has the most participants and delivers the maximum benefit to those participants will, ta-da!, attract the most participants. And if it will be either/or, the open source model will win.

The session on advertising focused purely on ad units, I guess because this is the currency of exchange that advertisers purchase from publishers. But this agency-and-publisher-centric view misses a key point: an effective message must be composed of an ad unit AND the landing page. Either piece alone fails or underperforms.

One participant asked: what’s the standard unit of political advertising — the banner, the sky-scraper, the popup? Good question. If you measure in terms not of dollars spent but of total number of candidates and causes, the standard unit of political advertising in this election cycle is the blogad: 150X 200 pixels & 300 characters of text. Anyone want to prove me wrong?

Two final points:

Welcome to The American Prospect Magazine, the latest magazine selling blogads. As a fellow journalist used to say as a deadline loomed: three is a trend.

And welcome also to Roadrunner, which, as blogger Bill Hobbs notes, is the first major corporation to advertise on blogs.

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