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Calacanis And Copeland: Weblog Advertising Outlook

Network Landscape's Jason Clarke interviewed two entrepreneurs who have carved out successful business models centered on weblogs. Clarke spoke with Weblogs, Inc. Founder Jason Calacanis and BlogAds Founder Henry Copeland.

Weblogs, Inc. publishes 70 niche-focused weblogs. BlogAds in an ad network offering advertisers reach to weblog readership. Both companies have seen tremendous growth in the last year and it's very likely that growth will continue.

In the interview, Clarke asked Calacanis, perhaps referring to Adrants, Adland or the many other advertising weblogs, if he was concerned about launching his advertising focused weblog, AdJab, into a crowded space.

Without missing a beat, Calacanis responded, "I never worry about competition."

In what could be construed as either a validation of the weblog business model or a backhanded slap, Calacanis referred to competing Gawker Media publisher Nick Denton thusly, "When Nick Denton launched knock-offs of Autoblog, Joystiq, Gadling and HackADay three or four months after we launched them I was thrilled. Not just because it establishes us as a leader in the space and Nick as the follower, but because advertisers could look at each of the blogs and say "do I want Coke and/or Pepsi" as opposed to "do I want to drink that strange dark fizzing liquid?!?!"

When Clarke ask BlogAds Founder Henry Copeland about how advertisers should understand weblogs, Copeland responded, in part, "blogs are about "you and me" but big media is about "us and them" (journalists versus audiences versus sources) or "it and it" (corporations versus consumers.) Advertising that smells like anything not created by a human for a human doesnÂ’t fit in the blogosphere." Copeland also believes most successful weblogs will come from individuals and not corporations which are tied down by shareholder and legal obligations.

by Steve Hall    Feb-24-05    




Kiley: Airline Ad Budgets Wasted

Writing on his Business Week Brand New Day weblog, David Kirby is flumoxed by the money airlines spend on their ad campaigns citing personal evidence that most people select an airline based on frequent flyer miles and price. Price has become an even more important decision driver with the plethora of online travel cites placing airlines side by side in pricing charts. Given that deregulation has made airlines commodities, he also wonders whether the $30 million Delta spends on its advertising might be put to better use in reducing fares.

by Steve Hall    Feb-24-05    




'Truth' Campaign Said to Stop 300,000 From Smoking, Campaign Funds in Jeopardy

While the American Legacy Foundation's Truth campaign has been found, through a recent study, to have prevented 300,000 kids from smoking, the money that funds the campaign may dry up. The fund comes as part of a $206 billion settlement between 46 states and the tobacco companies.

As part of the settlement, large tobacco companies can cease funding the campaign is their market share drops below 99 percent which may soon happened as small tobacco manufacturers grow.

Even if the fund stays solvent, it's an unequal war. Last year, the American Legacy Foundation spent $58.9 million on the Truth campaign while, in 2002, the tobacco companies spent $12.5 billion.

by Steve Hall    Feb-24-05    




Online Ad Points to Product Commentary Rather Than Homepage

In an interesting and refreshing twist, an online ad for a new book by Murakami Haruki, Kafka on the Shore, does not link directly to the author's or the publisher's website.

Rather, the ad, running on weblogs via the BlogAds network, links to other weblogs which have commented on the book.

Publisher Knopf Books has hit on a unique form of paid, word of mouth advertising. Knopf is relying on the comments of others to talk up the book and to, ultimately, link to the book's website. In essence, Knopf is paying to point people to comments about the book.

Quite ingeniously, Knopf has bought their way into the word of mouth space and is, smartly, using the words of others, rather than its own, to promote the book. This approach works well on weblogs as linking to other sources is common practice. However, there's no reason why, say, opt-in banner ad company, Dotomi, couldn't promote itself through its own online ad campaign by linking to case studies by marketers who have successfully used Dotomi rather than directly linking to its own promotional site. While Dotomi is a fine, upstanding company, as an advertiser, it's likely more trust will be placed on those who have had experience with Dotomi rather than what Dotomi has to say about itself.

While this approach is not unlike typical endorsement advertising which has been around forever, a campaign geared towards driving people to commentary about a company rather than to the company itself is a new and novel approach to combining and capitalizing on both traditional one to many and word of mouth style advertising.

by Steve Hall    Feb-23-05    




Industry Looks Inward Following Early Seifert Convictions

Upon yesterday's ruling that former Ogilvy & Mather execs Thomas Early and Shona Seifert were convicted for overbilling their Office of National Drug Control Policy client in 1999 and 2000, one can almost here the papers ruffling and the keyboards tapping as agency employees fly through billing records in a flurry, hoping to insure no wrong doing has been done on their watch. While the public already has a somewhat disdainful view of the advertising profession, yesterday's high profile ruling is doing nothing to change that unfortunate impression. While we can't recall the exact source, it was once found in a survey that advertising professionals were viewed by respondents with as much trust as afforded a car dealer. Writing in The New York Times, advertising columnist Stuart Elliot reviews all the sordid details and garners Ogilvy & Mather's position on the outcome.

by Steve Hall    Feb-23-05    




Online Media Buyers Needed For Survey

Web Ad.vantage is currently conducting a survey of online media buyers regarding their satisfaction, expectations, and experience with online media buying reps. The company is reaching out to as many online media buyers as possible for participation. If you are involved with online media buying and like taking surveys, Web Ad.vantage would appreciate your participation. The survey is accessible here.

The results of the survey will be published by Clickz via Hollis Thomases, Web Ad.vantage President, and Clickz columnist.

by Steve Hall    Feb-23-05    




Editorial Text Link Ads Raise Ethical Debate

While making our daily visit to the New York Post, we saw a story announcing the Magazine Publishers of America launch of a $40 million, three year campaign to promote the magazine medium. The fact that this news is four months old is irrelevant, though comical in its own right. What is relevant is the New York Post's adoption of Vibrant Media's IntelliTXT service which links words in article to ads. Rolling the mouse over the word pops up a window with a Google-like text ad which can be clicked on.

Forbes used Vibrant Media's product for a while but editors and others rebelled against it. The line of thinking is edit should be edit and ads should be ads and never shall the two intertwine. While we've had advertorials and other forms of paid edit for years, this move, combined with the intense proliferation of advertising in general have caused some to question the ethics of this form of advertising. One could debate these ads devalue the editorial content. Alternatively, one could argue they are simply non-intrusive, context-relevant ads readers can choose to view or not. That choice is not a possibility with many other forms on online and offline advertising. The questions as to which method of advertising is better will not be answered by advertising pundits but my the market. Just as pop up blockers rose to fend off aggravating popups, so might a technology that blocks or hides editorially linked text ads. The fact that ads are linked from within an article does not necessarily devalue the content of the article itself. The links are easy to ignore and don't alter the content. Sure, they are just another thing to process while reading but they are far easier to ignore than all over forms on online advertising. Given the choice between an Internet full of flashing graphic ads or only passive text ad links, which would you choose? Let us know.

by Steve Hall    Feb-23-05    




CBS Markets 'Survivor' With Pretty People

We all know reality TV has nothing to do with reality and CBS has, again, confirmed that for us. Just as Survivor losers begin the leave the island, dirty truths rear their ugly head.

Not that we're very surprised but one of the first people voted off, Wanda, that weird singing lady, has revealed seven of the Survivors are professional models placed on the show by their casting agencies to "pretty up" the show.

Wanda tells TV Guide, "Out of the 20 people that were originally cast, they cut seven and put pretty people from modeling agencies in instead, so that they would have the eye candy. We found that out while we were there [in Palau]. When we asked [each other], 'What did you do for your audition tape?' some of the people would say, 'Oh, well, I didn't really do an audition tape.'" So there you have it. Seven worthy human beings were cast off in favor of bimbo factor. Perhaps the next Survivor should take a page from The Apprentice playbook and pit tribes against each other based on certain attributes.

Perhaps, planted modeling agency pretty people could be pit against regular humans. Then, we'd finally know whether or not looks really have anything to do with survival.

by Steve Hall    Feb-23-05    




Tahoe Gets A Hoe

Writing on Mutually Exclusive, Eric Eggerston points out the hidden dangers of choosing a URL. In a campaign to promote Tahoe, the Nevada destination has used the URL www.GoTahoe.com.

Of course, when capitalization is removed as it commonly is when entering into a browser, www.gotahoe.com takes on a whole new meaning.

For those not inclined to notice that sort of thing, Tahoe, apparently wants to know if you've got a hoe. Now hopefully, they are referring to the garden tool and not the ever prevalent, in Nevada, prostitute.

Perhaps this was simple oversight, ingenious marketing or just a sneaky trick from the Tahoe marketing folks to get press. In any event, we're happy to help promote the world's oldest profession.

by Steve Hall    Feb-23-05    




General Mills to Keep Marketing Food to Children

Taking the line of thinking that it's more a parent's responsibility than a marketer's to monitor a child's food intake and eschewing the thinking marketers cause obesity in children, General Mills, in light of a recent announcement by Kraft it would reduce advertising to children, stated it plans to keep marketing to children. General Mills EVP Ken Powell said, "We think that advertising cereal is a healthy thing to do." Powell claims cereal is the primary focus of the company's marketing and, because of its whole grain content, aligns with U.S.

Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines. However, the company will also continue to market its less than healthy foods as well.

Facing heat from consumer groups, Kraft, Kellogg and General Mills have banded together and formed the lofty sounding Alliance for American Advertising, a pro kid marketing lobbying group. Kraft Chief Executive Roger Deromedi told Reuters, "To be sure that you maintain self regulation, the company believes it is important to take steps to show that you can self regulate."

by Steve Hall    Feb-23-05    




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