Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Cluetrain Advertising Paradigm Makes Blogs Ideal Marketing Venue

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Cluetrain Advertising Paradigm Makes Blogs Ideal Marketing Venue
For Small And Ethical Advertisers While Bringing Sustainability To Independent Opinion Makers

"We are in a place in time where individuals can use channels of communication formerly only available to large corporations. It is possible for me, as a private person to use very targeted online (and offline) advertising to help you find me. And the great thing about the world wide web is that you can link to me and that I can help you become more visible, by linking to you, by writing about you. Suddenly the world is a bit of a conversation again."
Source: Witold Riedel

It is with much pleasure that I take the honour of introducing to you a nifty little service which I think has lots of great, well-thought ideas integrated together, and which provides one of the first true alternatives for sustainability to independent publishers like me.

As the name clearly reveals, Blogads is an advertising service for blogs.

Now, while I remain highly sceptical that blogs constitute a truly identifiable category identifiable simply by use of a specific technology, I have no trouble understanding that the guys at Blogads are addressing the great potential made available by those independent publishers, reviewers, columnists and commentators who, on a frequent periodical basis, communicate and address relevant issues with wit and intelligence and which specialize in some very clearly identifiable theme.

I, for one, had long dreamt of never having advertisements on my sites. Why?

I am strongly against interruption marketing, and that kind of commercial advertising that wants to through down my throat something I really do not need as a human being.

Unfortunately, as many advertisers are rotten, useless companies from this idealistic point of view, I have long felt that advertising would not just be a viable road for me if I had to keep any integrity for my ideas and the change agent goals I had set for myself.

But I had to think over this again.

For one, my ethical, professional and philosophical choices have led me to a much more delicate financial position where I am more attentively looking for new opportunities that can allow me survival without compromising my independence.

Two, I had not believed hard enough in my own ideas about promotion and advertising, which developed in the 90s, painted a universe of ethical, contextual promotion, enriching and complementing whatever core information at hand.

In my own mind advertising had to become a relevant reference link.
If I am interested in a topic, then I should have easily accessible links to all references, resources, products and services that deal, complement or facilitate learning more about that issue.

Now, if I had the ability to transparently poll all those resources out there, and to contextualize them in a simple unobtrusive way each time I searched for something and I expressed desire for more resources, we would truly have a qualified system to help us find what we are looking for, with no need to spend trillions of dollars in brainwashing people with advertising messages.

In principle I would not have any resistance to integrate such kind of contextual and direct reference advertising in my writing and publications as, if implemented along the above principles, it would only enrich the information and benefit provided to my reader.

But back to the real world.

It seems, that what I am seeking from such an idealistic advertising system, is the respect and allowance for a number of principles which are indeed fundamental to my ability to conceive and leverage online advertising on my Web log in a positive and constructive way:

a) I decide which ads can go up and which ones not. I am not selling space in exchange for money. I am willing to promote ethical, relevant and useful products/services through my site/publications as long as they complement, augment or facilitate the ideas I am bringing forward.

b) I decide my own prices. If I am contributing my reach, visibility, exposure and credibility to promote these products I better be able to decide myself at what price I want to do this. While I am not stupid and I like to see transparently what others are charging I am not willing to be slotted into a pre-defined market rate based on number of impressions or unique visitors. I can show you hordes of web sites that while having 1/100th the number of visitors or page impressions of others, better known ones, bring back home a much larger piece of the pie in terms of products sold and relative margins.

c) I decide where and how ads look. If ads are to provide an ethical, useful, complementary service, without interrupting the work you are doing, they do not need to attract the attention, be "nice-looking", or to scream in your face the latest buzzword they have in their title. They only need to state clearly, without any marketing hype what the product/services is about.

Google text-based ads appearing next to search results as well as Google AdSense program show that this is not an information designer fantasy but a real need of the readers that can be leveraged to provide a higher level of quality promotion.

d) I like to deal with my customers directly. Bye bye middleman, arrivederci ad agency. I want advertising customers to come to my site and to input her campaign text, upload the optional image, select the duration of the campaign and pay the whole service in less than five minutes, directly on my site.

e) I can help some good cause with it. Unlike advertising contracts with traditional online agencies to which you sell full control of your space and its use at preset rates, I want not only to select who my advertisers are but I also want to be able to allow great products and services which I wish to support to publish their promotions at a lower or no cost at all on my site.

Blogads, a new online advertising infrastructure and service similar to Google AdSense provides all of the above, opening dramatically the range of ethical options we will be able to seriously entertain when it comes to identify ways and means by which one independent site can be made financially sustainable.

What Blogads provide in an absolute unique way is the re-establishment of long lost concepts typical of the real marketplace.

Directedness. Many blogs target very specific audiences, with highly defined preferences and styles. Bloggers are the ones in most direct contact with these people, to whom not only they distribute information to, but also with whom they engage with into heated discussions and open-ended fora. If I were to spread globally information about a product/service, the availability to access many individual highly focussed bloggers as vehicles of my promotions would appear as a extremely powerful and effective approach to get my message heard by the right people.

Synergy. If the independent publisher or blogger can self-select her advertisers she stands very high chances of being able to pull together the best complements (ads) for what she offers (as long as she is not driven by money only - which happily is a pretty constant characteristic of bloggers).

Reciprocal and mutual support. When the blogger can select the ads and companies she wants to support she is more likely to choose organizations and services she would have supported anyhow, outside of the financial return they now provide as advertisers. In turn, providers of products and services like to select minstrels, poets, artists and messengers to spread their news to the real people who need them.

Affinity. Freedom from the advertising agency conundrum of exclusive focus on brokering eyeballs, print space and TV time for the best paying dollar. Freedom to choose your advertising fiancée allows affinity and like-mindedness to bloom joyously again. If I can choose to promote companies I like, I would be naturally drawn to consider first those that operate in fields and arenas similar to mine.


"Publishers often get pushed by advertisers either to run flattering profiles or to kill unflattering exposes. Often enough, publishers succumb to the temptation. (Some publishers have even institutionalized the practice of drafting editorial staff into writing advertorials.)

Journalism professors worried about a blogger's ability to handle the same temptations should take comfort from the case of blogger Sgt. Stryker, who sold an ad to author Harrry Helms for his book Inside the Shadow Government. Stryker reacted by poking fun at Helms' ad (or site or book?), calling it "basically poorly written fiction that would be funny if it weren't so passe."

Apologetic to his readers for running the ad, he commented "...never let it be said that I let principle get in the way of making a buck (25, in this case)."
Helms, an author with plenty of books for sale at Amazon, asked for his money back and we (Blogads) obliged. I understand that it would be galling to have your socio-political analysis trashed by someone who you've just paid $25 for publicity. But from a PR perspective, the ad and Stryker's reaction were a home run. Plenty of other advertisers would kill for Helms' 18% clickthru.

Democratization of media buying. With a system like Blogads it becomes increasingly easy for small advertisers to find appropriate and effective venues for their promotions.

True referral, better than word of mouth. Hugh McLeod couldn't have phrased it any better than this: "....Buying a Blogad is a bit like getting this really cool person to tell everybody she knows about your work, for the price of a half-can of soda per day. Blogads are the next best thing to word-of-mouth."

But weren't blogs meant to be idealistic, pure, non-commercial instruments of communication, opinion making and community discussion?

Some folk object to advertising in blogs for ideological reasons, arguing that blogs are meant for a higher, purer calling. Others say bloggers don't have the requisite audience or commercial acumen.


First, society needs professional blogs. Journalism as we love it is being crushed by the vice grip of price/earnings. Journalism survives under a few old-school publishers, but everywhere else swarms of mediocre local monopolists, bleed-to-lead TV stations and Murdoch duopolies are killing the honourable fourth estate.

Autonomous, dedicated, low-overhead bloggers can save journalism.

Second, logic demands professional blogs. Many print publications -- with smaller and less influential readerships than a good blog's -- sell enough advertising to pay 20-person staffs. And every surface from newspapers to matchbooks to taxi doors to movie screens to telephone books to cellphone screens to stadiums has eventually found advertising underwriters.

Why not blogs too?

Blogs offer advertisers and sponsors intimate contact with influential, passionate audiences.

Blogs disintermediate gutless traditional media and offer greater value for money.

The old media economics - he who controls distribution wins the most eyeballs and serves advertisers best - will soon be plowed under by a new economics - she who relates best attracts the most valuable audience.

... Blogads brings to advertising the simplicity, low-cost, power and atomic-level automony that tools like Antville, Blogger, Greymatter, MT, pMachine, and Userland deliver to editorial content."

Source: Henry Copeland

Robin Good:
If what I recount above is true, and if enough people reading this article take on the challenge to try out and verify my good will in presenting a real practical alternative to traditional, imposed-from-the-outside advertising, Blogads may stand some good change of bringing great sustainability to a good number of us.

In the worst case, where Blogads will not be able to reach enough momentum and clout to make a serious difference for many, it will have nonetheless pioneered an approach to online advertising and promotion that many of us felt long due.

Kudos to Henry Copeland the all of the guys in Hungary working for Blogads for making accessible to all of us a truly great idea.

"...woo the early adopters that traditional media can't reach.

...impress 1,000 opinion makers with a colorful pitch, not pester 1,000,000 nobodies with a soulless textad or banner.

...Read by fanatics, pundits and journalists, blogs increasingly set the insider agenda.

Use blogads to start advertising where opinions are made."

Ad from the home page of Blogads.

"Blog readers need to see the blog-advertiser not as another PR-geyser, but as an ally, a comrade, somebody who has invested in a mind-set they care about.

I'm not worried. It will happen. Bloggers are the ultimate intellectual entrepreneurs, history's largest and most powerful class of autonomous scribes. Blog passion, inventiveness and audience-grip guarantee that this medium will detonate a new commercial universe."

Source: Henry Copeland

So what am I going to do?

I am going to try Blogads right away and I am going to recommend you to do same. If you are an independent publisher and want to strike a balance between selling and informing responsibly Blogads gives you a good chance to try this and be a pioneer.

Do not step back. This is an opportunity to take on now.

(Some) Limitations

Blogads pays you back through PayPal. If you, like me, are in a country not fully supported by PayPal (and there are many) you can only see the money coming in your account but you cannot cash it at your local bank.

You can use that money indeed to pay other online services and products that accepts PayPal payments.

Blogads picks up a nice 20% from your advertising rate. (While of all the features of Blogads this is certainly the one that I like the least, on the other hand I truly wish Blogads a generous success in the blog market, which may in turn allow them to leave a bit more in the hands of those that are making this revolution possible).

If you are serious about finding alternative methods to support your online independence without selling yourself to the ad market, give a try to Blogads on your web site and let us know all how soon we can start changing the rules of this market too.

Readers' Comments    
2004-12-17 07:20:04


Crispads is another advertising network focused on blogs. Crispads also allows publishers to place ads in their blog entries so that they propagate to their RSS/ATOM feeds to generate revenues when content is syndicated.

2004-10-04 05:47:22

erik hauser

To explore these issues further join

2003-10-08 19:30:07


Good idea and good service. It remains to be seen if a sufficient variety of advertisers can be attracted so that bloggers, most of whom have very specific preferences, can have a choice of who to "partner" with.

posted by Robin Good on Wednesday, October 8 2003, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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