Grassroots sales for grassroots blogging | Blogads

Grassroots sales for grassroots blogging

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Today we’re launching a new feature to pay bloggers who bring advertisers to other bloggers in their niche or locale.

Think of this as grassroots ad sales to support grassroots news.

We’re testing the new functionality with the 15 members of our military blog hive and 20 bloggers in our economics blog hive.

Here’s the idea: the total commission on buys through the econ and military hive order pages will rise to 40% from the current 30%. On any buy referred by a blogger through the hive order page, 14% will go to that blogger, 6% will go to the hive manager, and 20% will go to Blogads. So, for example, if a blogger refers an advertiser to the hive for a $3,000 purchase, that blogger will make an extra $420 above the revenue from the ad itself.

To get the commission, bloggers will use a specific URL when sending advertisers to the hive. If an advertiser doesn’t buy immediately but returns to the hive within a month, the referring blogger will still be commissioned.

This commission will compensate a proactive blogger for her hard work or connections. The sales effort could be as simple as putting an extra link to the hive order page in the blog’s nav bar or as full-throttle as sending a link out to contacts or writing a blog post extolling the virtues of advertising on the hive.

(On a related note, we’re lowering the commission for ads sold when buyers click on the “advertise here” on individual blogs, currently at 30%, to just 14%. We’re keeping less money because we do less work on these deals; we want more money to flow to the people who are doing most of the work.)

Why are we doing this?

Niche blogs are vital players in the media ecosystem and they MUST be funded. In a world in which algorithms and top-down solutions increasingly drive both content creation and advertising, we think this collaborative ad sales solution could a significant impact on the livelihoods of niche bloggers.

In both competing for eyeballs and ad dollars, blogs are up against giant competitors… not only the likes of the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN but content megafactories factories like Demand Media, AOL, and HuffingtonPost. There are now literally billions of pages online for readers to mine for information and for advertisers to use in promoting their goods and services.

Amid a Gobi-sized desert of generic media mediocrity, blogs have something special to offer both readers and advertisers: an oasis of human quality, a strong sense of connection with and among readers. For advertisers looking to elevate their brand and really connect with influential readers — as opposed to just getting clicks from random consumers — there’s nothing better.

We think that some niche bloggers will bring their passion for their niche and investment in its success to selling ads. Since nobody knows niche blogs better than the bloggers themselves, a self-organized group of bloggers seems like an ideal platform for selling those ads. Bloggers are often uniquely well-connected in their own communities of interest, whether in a given locale or a niche. In a sense, the blogger sales commissions is a continuation of the ideas — niche-focus, self-organization, DIY, bottom-up — that we started chewing on clear back in 2002, when we launched Blogads.

Many thanks to bloggers Craig Newmark, Matt Burden, Amy Langfield, Kari Chisholm, John Hawkins, and Ken Layne who have helped us with the concept.

Once we’ve fine-tuned the functionality, we’ll roll it out to other hives. For members of the Mil and Econ hives, here’s our technical explanation of the functionality. Please let us know how we can improve it.

Some background on hives: We currently support ~130 hives.

These range from the Liberal Blog Advertising Network (117 blogs, 100 million impressions a month), to Conservative blogs (90 blogs, 50 million impressions) to New York City blogs (26 blogs, 29 million impressions a month) Wine Bloggers (5 blogs, 195,000 impressions a month), Jewish Blogs (10 blogs, 2.5 million impressions a month), and Evangelical bloggers (11 blogs, 430,000 impressions a month).

We created hives (then called “mini-networks) in 2005 to try to stay sane; we had topped over 1000 blogs and couldn’t keep track of who was who. Rather than try to determine who, for example, was a liberal blog we turned this over to the bloggers to determine. So we let bloggers create their own hives and promote sales commonly. The hive adminstrator, for his or her troubles, would then get 5% of sales.

Over time, we’ve realized that the hive’s cataloging function the hives was the least of their utilities. The blogs in the hives, reading each other, linking to each other, e-mailing behind the scenes, have incredible power. We hope the new idea will extend this power even further and fuel new profitability for locale and niche blogging.

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