Blog Advertising – cutting through the complexity
Here is what I found to be true. I am posting it in the hope that it will be useful to you.
1. A real blog that carries ads is capable of delivering traffic to your site, if you observe some basic fundamentals which I will get into further down in this post.
2. I have been using blog advertising and it has more than paid for itself, even though my copywriting ability still needs a lot of work.
3. It took me some trial and error to find out what works best for me. Your results are almost guaranteed to differ from mine, so use this as food for thought, not as a recipe for your success.
If you have ever checked my Mission Statement (on the left sidebar), you will see that I write to stimulate thought and possible action, not to prescribe to others what they should believe. This is a necessary preface, especially for this post on blog advertising.
Writing about blog advertising is like describing a flow of lava. In both cases, the subject evolves almost as fast as you can describe it. If you can capture the essence of what I am trying to communicate, you will be able to work out your own destiny in this matter.
Once upon a time, it appeared that blogs might be following the dismal path charted by standard websites. Some blogs had banner ads complete with animated gifs. This tacky state of affairs was compounded by pop-up ads, mortgage ads, porno ads, Google Ads, Amazon.com ads, more mortgage ads, etc.
This apparency was created by those would-be entrepreneurs who saw no difference between blogs and regular websites. Their approach was to put up a blog with a canned template, fill it with canned feeds from various sources and fill every possible square inch of space with ads. These fake blogs are merely roadkill on the information highway. As a reader, you avoid them and as an advertiser you should avoid them also.
A real blog has an audience and a message. If this blog accepts ads, your ad should be meaningful to the audience and should not conflict with the message, or you will wasting your money and worse than that, you may be alienating readers. You need to consider whether your game plan involves alienating bloggers. Once bloggers tag you as a clueless bozo, you might as well close up shop and rename your company, because the blogger comments will appear ahead of your ad copy in any Google search.
Once you find a blog that accepts ads, has readers who will buy your product, and your ad is compatible with the blog message, then you need to choose what kind of ad is right for you.
This Clickz article, Blog Advertising: Right for You?, by Hollis Thomases will bring you up to speed on the most common types of blog advertising. you must decide what will give you the best results in your particular situation.
I went with Blogads, which allows me to create the image and the copy I want and update it at will and place the ads on the blog of my choice. I pay for the space on a weekly, monthly, or longer basis. Blogads has a simple interface that helps me select the blogs that appeal to my target audience of book buyers. If I have questions, I can talk to the crew at Blogads and get help. The user interface to Blogads allows me to monitor clicks, revise my ad and renew my ad even while the ad is running.
Being a hands-on guy, I really appreciate the power and flexibility of their system. I consider the host blog readers as this enormous flood of prospects. I have less than a second to catch their attention and bring them to my Bent Crow Press website. I continually tweak my ad to optimize the number of host blog readers who click on my ad.
Improving the percentage of book orders is then a matter of learning to write effective "Buy Now" copy that turns their casual interest into a buying decision. Since I can track my publishing site traffic through Sitemaster, I can see where the visitors are coming from and if there is a difference in order rates from different classes of visitors.
Your book or product may have entirely different requirements, but advertising in blogs allows you to select only those which cater to the niche your buyers occupy. Blog readers are highly motivated communicators who will buy and talk about your product, if you deliver a superior customer experience from initial contact to final delivery.
If your target audience is grandparents who are raising grandchildren, blogs will deliver that audience. If your target audience is single parents who are struggling with a problem of any sort, chances are that blogs will deliver that audience more effectively than any other media.
The only caveat is that you are exposing yourself to an audience that can be merciless if you attempt to follow shoddy business practices or provide less than satisfactory customer experiences. If that is your normal practice, keep on advertising in the little ads in the back of newspapers and magazines. It’s safer.
I did not address the topic of whether a blogger should permit advertising on her or his blog, but I can offer a suggestion.
Your blog is the result of your creative efforts and the responses you have received from visitors. Uncontrolled comment spam and hateful remarks make your blog an unpleasant place to visit and you will lose readers. You should not permit anyone to degrade the work you have put into developing an audience for your blog.
In the same way, advertising that does not provide a useful service to your audience is a detriment to your blog. Most ad programs do not give you as a host any control over the ads that appear.
Blogads are approved by the group at blogads.com and must be approved by the site owner. This gives you, as a site owner, some confidence that your blog image is still under your control. As an advertiser, it also gives me feedback that my ad will be acceptable to the blog audience.
As a blogger, I have thought long and hard about the merits of putting ads on any of my sites. Since I have one personal and two business weblogs, I want to ensure that I understand the consequences of placing ads for others on my sites. My current position is that I will accept ads from those who have supported me on their sites and from those bloggers who have written books and would like to exchange ad space. I have benefitted greatly from those who have supported me in my self-publication efforts. I want to return the favor in full measure.