Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Advertisers not sold to blogs

Blogs are making headlines again today. According to a survey by the venerable Pew Internet and American Life Project, blog readership jumped 58% in the last year.

The mediapost has an interesting article where advertising executives were asked to comment on this report. In a nutshell, they are left unimpressed and give a catalogue of reasons ranging from "clients are too cautious" to "who is interested in lifestyle blogs?". The most striking comment comes from Carat Insight: "It's yet to be seen whether blogs keep up the momentum now that the political season is beyond us"…

It reads like the final nail in the coffin for bloggers :-)

Remember, ad executives were the very people who dismissed the Internet in the mid nineties only to wake up when they realised that their clients weren't spending millions of dollars on online campaigns with them.

But they raise an interesting point: are blogs a good advertising medium?

My take on that is no. Not in the traditional way we see (and ad executives see) advertising. Blogs are probably better at influencing opinions than shifting boxes on the short term.

But they can help not to sell. Just look at the number of blogs complaining about product defects, poor customer services or shedding light on some shady business practices. 58% more people are reading them compared to last year. That must account for some “attitudinal shift”.

Blogs are part of a changing environment, where thanks to the Internet and increasingly marketing savvy consumers, a more intricate web of relations, advices, information, messages, opinions and influences is formed during the purchasing process.

They contribute to what Don Tapscott in his book “The Naked Corporation” calls the age of transparency, where customers, journalists and stakeholders are gaining unprecedented access to information and scrutinise corporations’ behaviours. Blogs allow them to share that information quickly and widely, bypassing traditional media. While I may be impressed by the might of an ad campaign, I, like most internet users will be exposed to enough counter information to balance my judgement.

Blogs don't help sell but they help buy.

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