Blog Advertising Difficulties: Blog Network Doesn’t Mean Big Money

There is a great set of posts and videos going around right now talking about advertising and blogs, and I wanted to chime in with my two cents.

Aaron Brazell started me thinking about this thanks to a video on his blog Technosailor about blog consolidation.

Then I saw a post on Inquisitr talking about what Aaron said and Duncan added his own thoughts and opinions on bringing blogs together under one flag to sell advertising as a group.

These are both people that I highly respect, and who probably have more knowledge about the business of blogging than I do, but in this area, I don’t think they know what the heck they are talking about.

I am the co-founder of Grand Effect, a great blog network, with great blogs, written by great bloggers. We were all independent and came together for the purpose of passing traffic to each other, as well as a bit of link juice and of course banding together for network wide advertising sales.

I assumed because there would be a great deal of higher quality, focused blogs that we could get some high advertising rates, and when you bring our traffic together, we have a fair bit of page views, but still the advertisers aren’t running to our doors. I’ve shopped around the network a bit to some companies trying to gauge their response, and so far it has been a really lukewarm response.

We just don’t have the five or ten million page views that the big brands are looking for, or a tight enough demographic or the required star/networking power to make those big deals with friendly companies. We also aren’t high enough currently on the thought leader chain in the blogosphere for certain brands, making things even more frustrating as we work hard to show how powerful our brands have become.

While we have a lot to offer an advertiser that can come in with a three to five dollar CPM rate, we haven’t been able to secure that yet across the network of nine sites, and so bringing together a few blogs under a banner is definitely not enough to entice companies to sign up and tap into that combined traffic.

Also, I have found that the more page views that you bring together, the lower these companies want their overall CPM rates to be. So while a 50,000 page view blog might be able to sell some advertising space for a consistent $2 CPM, or $100 per advertising spot per month, a 500,000 page view blog, won’t instantly get $1000 for the same advertising positions.

Everyone also seems to be forgetting the time and effort that needs to go into selling these companies on buying advertising from you. This can take an immense amount of time depending on the company and it can also be difficult when the coalition is young and thus the brand everyone is flying is unknown. I always thought 9rules should have done something to help its membership make money through a network advertising service, but I realize now, in working with Grand Effect, that it just takes so much time.

You either have to develop an advertising platform, use one that already exists (thus giving them a cut) or do things manually. Development costs a fair bit of time and/or money. Using one that already exists can be frustrating because it might not have the features you want, and they’ll want their cut. Doing things manually can take huge amounts of time, and lends itself to mistakes.

How does everyone expect to manage network wide advertisements? Who will take the lead to create relationships with companies and sell them on advertising positions, and does this person get extra money? Who will handle the receiving and disbursement of advertising payments?

The information that the others have put up don’t really cover the important questions, instead lingering on about other less important things like freedom of creative control on your own blogs, and trying to quickly pull everyone under your wing in hopes of selling big advertising blocks.

Too many unanswered questions. I think people are going to jump in with both feet, only to find themselves disappointed. Doesn’t anyone plan things out properly in the blogosphere anymore?

13 thoughts on “Blog Advertising Difficulties: Blog Network Doesn’t Mean Big Money

  1. Jeffro2pt0

    Interesting post David as I was thinking about writing a post which would of informed readers that the big bucks are where the blog networks are. You have already proven me wrong though. What a fickle game advertising is.

  2. David Peralty Post author

    It’s not that there isn’t more money in blog networks, but just bringing blogs together in a network doesn’t mean you will make more money.

    Blog networks that have dedicated advertising sales staff do well because they have a better shot at monetizing any traffic they might get.

    Advertising is very fickle though…

  3. Jeffro2pt0

    I think the reason this post resonates with people is because it goes against what I would consider to be common sense. More blogs under one brand = higher traffic numbers which equal more money. But apparently, thats not how it works.

  4. raj

    not disagreeing w/ you in general, but a decreasing CPM as #(M) increases is actually pretty standard in the world of print.

  5. David Peralty Post author

    Jeff- I’d have to agree with you. I always thought that bringing a bunch of blogs together would mean huge gobs of money as companies try to access the larger groups of people you had available.

    More blogs under one brand = higher traffic numbers, might make it easier to sell advertising or entice bigger brands to advertise, but might not mean more money than the separate sites could have earned independently.

    Raj – Yeah, that’s pretty much the standard for all mediums in my limited experience (radio ads have a descending CPM rate as the overall impressions increase too), but I wanted to make sure to point it out so that those trying to sell “group” advertisements understood that they might not make as much money as a group as they’d hope.

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  7. jeremy wright

    Will respond more later, but as a note the economics *should* be: decreasing cpm’s buyt increasing fill rate.

    Big drivers are also sales platforms and sales teams.

    More later though 🙂

  8. David Peralty Post author

    Jeremy – Thanks for commenting, but as I am sure you know. Increasing fill rate only occurs if there is someone “selling” the inventory. Companies don’t come out of the woodwork to advertise with you just because you have a conglomerate of sites producing X amount of traffic.

    Looking forward to your later comment. 🙂

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  10. Easton Ellsworth

    David, very smart post. I went through exactly what you have – for a year and a half I struggled for hours and hours every week to develop and monetize relationships with advertisers for Know More Media’s blog network.

    I totally agree. Just because you network some blogs together doesn’t automatically mean all will be better. It just all depends on several different factors that will determine whether the whole will really be greater than the sum of its parts. Things like how closely related the blogs are topically, how efectively the ad selling process can be streamlined, etc.

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