5 Reasons Jane Thinks Every Small Business Should Blog
Smart Woman Online: Laura Ries

Jane Wonders: Is Advertising Going to the Blogs?

Jane's hearing a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about advertising. There seem to be two distinct camps: 1) advertising on your blog is bad, or 2) advertising is okay as long as it isn't blatant or self-serving.

As with most media Jane reads, she finds these discussions over the pros and cons of online advertising great yawn producers. For instance, Businessweekonline, August 26th, posted an article by Pat Wallwork, titled, "Advertising's Brave New Niches." As articles go, it wasn't an entire waste of time...we did get a nugget of information about the struggle small businesses face in the world of advertising today. This, however, was not news to Jane...we were very well aware of this already...and we sincerely hope all of our readers were aware of it. Here's what the article said that really hits home:

"About 40 years ago, an ad that ran on the three major networks [TV] would typically be viewed by 80% of American women. Today, with media fragmentation the prevailing trend, that commercial would need to run on 100 television channels to achieve the same result."

No mention in that article about blog ads. However, if we move on to Boston.com, we see this article by Naomi Aoki, Globe Staff, "With ads easier to dodge, companies eye new ways to get out the message." A few gems reported in this article make Jane's point nicely -- the yawn factor point -- a quote from an executive vice president of a well-known ad firm says, "Clearly, the consumer is in control. As marketers, we have to market to them in ways they want. We've got to make our messages interesting and compelling so people don't zap through them." He's talking TV, of course. He goes on to say "no other medium out there lets you reach as many people at once as quickly." Hmmm...has he heard of the Internet yet? Do you suppose he reads any blogs? If blogs aren't targeted marketing, I don't know what is!

Meanwhile, another marketing executive makes a much better point; he says, "People are tired of being interrupted and invaded." Indeed. Perhaps putting the ads -- not blatant used car approach ads -- in places people congregate on a regular basis is one answer. (could that be blogs?) But, he doesn't say so.

There was one gentleman who got it right (no ladies interviewed...Jane wonders why?). The last ad exec interviewed was wise enough to note that "I'm increasingly interested in alternatives where people already have control, like the Internet, in creating ads that look like TV spots in hopes that something magic will take place and people will pass it on to their friends."

This leads us to a two-part report on iMedia by Alan Chappell, titled "Web logs can be innovative marketing tools if not allowed to run amuck." Jane especially likes the "run amuck" reference.

Chappell gets it right. He begins with Dr. Seuss and the story of The Lorax, from which Jane remembers, with a twinge of sadness, the Lorax imploring,"Who will speak for the trees?" to the Once-ler, the story's representation of corporate greed...a greed that destroyed the Truffala Trees, as well as the rest of the environment.

Chappell asks readers "Is ad clutter helping or hurting the online ad market?" Hint: ad clutter is like the Once-ler, it's hurting the environment. Chappell interviewed a number of companies who have blogs and are using them as a marketing or customer relationship tool, something Jane approves of, heartily. He points out the pros and cons nicely. Then he goes on to give his view of how to use blogs as an advertising/marketing tool. Jane agrees with much of what he writes but one particular point rings truer to Jane than any other: that point is to make your blog transparent.

Where have we heard that before? Why, from Lisa Johnson and Andrea Learned, co-authors of Don't Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy -- and How to Increase Your Share of This Crucial Market. They predicted transparency as the strongest, best way to approach the women's market, but the truth is...transparency is non-gender. Men want to be approached with honesty and appreciation, also. Being transparent means understanding your audience.

Blogs are so well-designed for this, any blogger worth her weight in gold is already offering transparent marketing to her readers. A blog should reflect the true voice of the blogger, making it, by definition, transparent marketing.

To be able, then, to offer readers tasteful, appropriate advertising, whether discreet banner ads or pay per click or small, interesting flash movies, just seems a win-win situation. This is NOT a sell-out, nor is it corporate greed entering sacrosanct space. It's merely human beings providing valuable content and making a few dollars in the process. Because of this, Jane believes that advertising is, indeed, going to the blogs. Watch for it...at a blog near you!pups2

What's not to like about that?


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