Paydirt: Blogcatalog Interviewed on Technorati Blog Advertising

Technorati Blog Advertising - Technorati AdsTechnorati have now officially announced their new blog advertising platform surprisingly called Technorati Media.

It is a significant step, though not as many seem to think unusual.

Afterall, Google started as a search engine, then monetized search, and finally introduced their own publisher program Adsense.

Lots of discussion related to the often reappearing Microsoft Yahoo deal mention that display advertising is highly lucrative, and Technorati are in a prime position to serve advertising to a very specific demographic of publishers – bloggers.

Technorati know exacty what bloggers are talking about on a day to day basis, so in aggregate they can offer publishers targeted display advertising, at least in theory.

Also it is important to understand that instead of selling the vast amount of data they have, they are using it to provide an added value service.

From the official announcement:-

Our first step was a private beta. We assembled a core of like-minded sites, founded to provide community and services to bloggers and to surface the best of blog content to consumers, and were successful in attracting advertisers to the network including: T-Mobile, Toyota, and Verizon.

These sites form the base of the Technorati network’s vertical content channels and reach an audience of 17 million (with that audience increasing very shortly with several other sites about to sign). Over the next several months, we’ll be adding blogs from the mid and long tail within those verticals. Here’s some of who’s in so far:

The site itself is a little short on real information, so I thought I would try to pry some out of Tony Berkman from Blogcatalog. I was aware of some of the details at the beginning of March, but it has taken far longer than I expected for the news to finally emerge.

Andy: Hi Tony, thanks for taking the time to respond to my request to chat about the new Technorati Advertsing platform. Whilst I knew you had a deal with Technorati some time ago, it was felt best not to discuss it in detail.

Tony: My pleasure Andy

Andy: When did Technorati first approach you about their new advertising platform?

Tony: Around the beginning of January was when we started discussions. They started running ads on BC in February.

Andy: Up until that time Blogcatalog was primarily monetized using Google Adsense. Did you find Adsense was providing enough income to meet your growing development and hosting needs?

Tony: Exactly. AdSense was our primary income source. We do have a number of other sources such as premium membership and directory category sponsorships. For the first year of operation AdSense and these other sources of income enabled us to pay for hosting and developer costs. Around November 2007, BlogCatalog’s traffic exploded and bandwidth costs started to eat into the portion of income that we were using to fund development. At that point I started looking for ways to monetize the site that wouldn’t ruin the user experience.

Andy: So you decided to test Technorati Advertising?

Tony: Exactly. We entered into a relatively short term agreement so that we can see if it is beneficial and whether they can deliver on their promises. The contract term expires in November. It is really too soon to say whether we will continue after that time, but we will give them the chance to prove they can deliver.

Andy: When did you start displaying Technorati Advertising on Blogcatalog, and does it appear in all sections of the site?

Tony: We always want to avoid obtrusive advertising for our members, thus we currently display light advertising in the following sections

1. Directory Categories
2. Search Pages
3. Blog Detail Pages

And if you are a premium member, which costs $6 a month, all ads are removed from the site.

Andy: Can you elaborate a little on their performance?

Tony: The first few months were nothing to write home about as the Technorati team was getting their infrastructure together. During this time we were only displaying one vertical ad on each directory page. Recently though we have seen a move to higher paying ads that are more targeted to our audience – a win / win situation for both advertisier and publisher.

Andy: Whilst Blogcatalog gains very little mainstream coverage, it is quite a high traffic mainstream internet site with over 4M monthly pageviews. I assume that means Technorati are giving you a fairly decent deal?

Tony: We have a favorable split. Mainstream coverage is rather limited, however we certainly get a fair share of internet traffic. Traffic – BC is now closer to 9M pageviews though not all of those views are available to Technorati. For now, provided they continue to improve their offerings, Technorati is a great deal for us, and makes sense as we are able to monetize the directory withouth having to build up a sales infrastructure.

Andy: No yardsticks? Ah well… the other important aspect for any publisher is communication. Do they respond to emails?

Tony: Personally they are outstanding to work with. Their support has been first class. Though at the end of the day it comes down to whether it makes sense to have them representing our ad units, or whether it makes more sense for us to hire an ad team. There is always a balancing act and a desire to concentrate on core competence.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, it is good to have some direct feedback from someone who has already been using Technorati’s new advertising platform for some time.

My Take

At this time I don’t intend running display ads (on this blog anyway) unless it is in the form of some specific sponsorship, though it might be more interesting for some niche sites.

Display advertising is much more suited to more mainstream sites with broader topics.

On the advertising purchase page for Technorati I also noticed the following:-

You can also enquire about Technorati Conversational Marketing, the next step in entering the global conversation on the web.

That could be PR service targeting bloggers, or maybe something akin to Social Spark.

Disclaimer – I do a little consulting with Blogcatalog

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Comments

  1. says

    But it doesn’t make sense Andy to say they’re going after the long tail when in reality CPM isn’t going to play on the long-tail, and their signup form won’t let you apply unless you do over 100k views/month.

    Guess what, the long tail is way below that.

    • says

      I am not over 100K on this site, submitted pageviews in the 50K to 100K range and received this response.

      If your content and audience are a great addition to the network overall or to one of our channels, our business development team will contact you soon.

      Sure they are looking at the bigger partners first, it is taking them time to roll this out, and they suggested smaller partners in a few month.

      I am not sure they can meet my expectations of >$100 CPM either so I don’t expect a call any time soon.

      How viable this is for a blogger with a single lower traffic blog remains to be seen, but I know some of my readers have blogs in the 100s or 1000s full of unique content.

      • says

        >100 CPM? Wow. You’re kidding right? Nobody is going to give you that. You’ll be lucky to get 2-6 bucks CPM, maybe.

        Believe me, the numbers don’t add up. You can’t sell CPM on long-tail, you just can’t. Wait, the only way you could would be to aggregate about 70 million blogs into your network and share impressions. Still then, the split between them would be tiny.

        CPM ONLY makes sense if you do 1 mil page views a month at least.

  2. says

    Andy: Thanks for this update! It doesn’t sound as if this is the same market as adsense is it? It a[[ears they are just catering to the huge hogs like Blogcritics (which I write for and am not knocking!) Will they ever address the smaller traffic blogs like say: mine at about 100 uniques a day?

  3. says

    Hi,
    One of the interesting scenes going forward will be that of the bloggers panicing to obtain better Technorati rankings than Google PR… ie. Part of the search traffic giving way to site reference traffic.

    Cheers,
    Ajith Edassery

  4. says

    I agree with Jim. oftentimes you should be getting tons of uniques and page views per month.. even if they are accepting small nos then I can say it won’t be succesful bcoz cpm ads pay too low even lower for small blogs…

  5. says

    I love Technorati and everything about it… I am looking forward to see what will happen in the next few months regarding all of this… Serving ads to bloggers is difficult; remember that a lot of webmasters/bloggers/ppl in makemoneyonline niche have become ad blind and thus makes it difficult to capitalize on a huge portion of readers!

  6. says

    thjanks Andy, but tihngs have changed already, I think the CPM only works if you have more than 100-200K per day..

  7. says

    Hey Andy
    I spent a lot of time researching no follow and after all the crap I read some of the info on your site and used that as a major factor of switching to do follow,so thanks for that.
    As far as that sinking ship and the interview.I found going on Blogcatalog to be the most UNPRODUCTIVE use of time period.
    I mean even twitter brings more traffic,since they deleted my account for whatever reason.I have been MUCH better off.
    They may have pageviews and people but even the Titanic had people on it.
    Although you and many people may disagree I respect you accepting where I’m coming from and adding this.
    I always thought you were a marketing site so I avoided your site and saw your name all over.But I will say I respect your knowledge Peace OUT;)

    • says

      Hi John

      It is certainly not for everyone – I think that is the case for every online community, and that is what Blogcatalog is, a community.
      There are people who drive thousands of visitors a day from Facebook, I can’t remember the last time I saw Facebook on my stats.
      You need to invest time in communities that are right for your business.

      • says

        I agree with Andy – focusing is to the communities exactly related to your niche is the major key. Not to be a die hard fan of facebook though, I saw its strong potential as a means of marketing – in fact, have recently launched a professional networking site modeled to facebook – it’s schmoozii.com

        Hey, I’m finding myself to being on this site more often. Many thanks Andy:)

  8. says

    I absolutely agree with what Andy mentioned here – you should spend more time with the actual communities related to what you are doing. Regarding facebook, not to be a die hard on this social site but i saw its great potential for marketing – in fact have recently launched a social site modeled to facebook ( schmoozii.com )i just hope it gets close to its success. I find myself to being on this site more often than usual :)

  9. says

    I would love to see this take of, hopefull it is not another disaster like bidvertiser. however I dont think they can even get up to %10 of what google does.

  10. says

    As a buyer of advertising I first thought it looked really interesting. CPM though is not really good enough. It’s just adding an extra step of complexity for the advertisers, having to calculate the amount of visitors you will get. It also makes me a bit suspicious because it usually (not saying this is the case with tehnorati) signals very few visitors in the end.

  11. says

    I also think that more and more people are blind to ads, making it a little more challenging to make money with this type of ad. If people are truly interesting in a product or whatever is being sold, though, they will follow through.

  12. says

    I’ve never been real excited about CPM. It’s difficult to track any successful marketing campaign online with the CPM model (unless you capture the referrer in the URL). Low traffic blogs that can actually send traffic your way with CPC is much better way of doing it I think. This way we can actually measure the results.

    Also, most blog pages are huge, and just because an ad may be somewhere on the page will count towards CPM (even though nobody ever sees your ad).

    Jason

  13. says

    I am a committed member of BlogCatalog.com – I love the atmosphere there, the people are extremely supportive and (most of) the content is of top quality – how will this all be affected by a deluge of paid advertising I wonder?

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