Blog networks vs. print publishing

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I’ve done my fair share of print advertising. Back in the days of yore, clients and media planners alike were attracted to magazines for their ability to target niche audiences. Print newspapers, too, were attractive mediums when you were targeting geographically specific markets. But the days when print could deliver hype-focused niche markets are fading away. Today it seems that advertisers are taking a serious look at blogging as a platform to get their brands in front of niche markets. But not just any kind of blogs. We’re talking blog networks. A recent NY Times article suggests that blog networks may be the next big medium for advertisers. According to the article, most advertisers shy away from the blog medium because they have no control of the content and may be frightened away by edgy content. But when you’re dealing with a blog network like Sugar Inc. or Gawker Media for example,  advertisers tend to let their guard down because the editorial content is all being handled from a single, reliable source; just like traditional print pubs once did. On Gawker’s home page, for example, they define themselves thusly;

“Gawker Media marries a traditional publishing model and an all-star editorial masthead with the audience engagement borne out of the candor, frequency and hyper-linking of the blog format.”

Sounds legit, right? Who wouldn’t want the safety of the traditional publishing model cross-pollinated with the targeting ability of the blogosphere. Traditional publishers focus on content. Digital publishing does the same, but with the added benefit of speed, distribution and hyper-focused targeting.  Here are my top five reasons why I think advertisers will continue to consider blog networks:

1. They offer lightening in a bottle. Blogs can be updated on the fly and can deliver information, news, opinions at Internet speed. Blog networks often employ a stable of writers that are at their keyboards 24 hours a day.
2. Tapping vast resources. In addition to tapping into great writing talent, blogs have loyal audiences that can interact with the writers. Often times, readers feed stories or leads to blog authors allowing the blog to get a scoop on a story before a traditional print pub can.
3. Stickiness. If you have a network of fashion blogs, chances are that if you offer fashion products on your blogs, your audience will click through. They’re already there for fashion content. All you have to do is entice them.
4. Original content. The beauty of creating original content is that you can use it as you see fit. If your original content is highly sought after, there’s no reason why you can’t spread it across your blog network and break fresh content before your print publishers even get their ink rollers wet.
5. A mention is worth a thousand clicks. A mention in a story or a hyperlink to a brand name may mean a significant spike in traffic, depending on how good the content is. While a banner may do little, content can increase sales if done right. Try doing that in print.

I believe that blog networks will continue to gain momentum and increase their clout among advertisers. The image of the blogger clad in pajamas at the typer pouring his/her heart out to the world has given way to real money-making platforms that are both powerful and interesting ways to reach an audience.

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