Ask Kelly & Ted - Should I Use a Blog Ad Network?
Advertising via "vertical content networks" is certainly a viable option within your overall marketing plan. Vertical content networks are a collection of websites that are focused by audience, topic, or other binding factor - blog advertising networks (like Blogads, AdBrite, Feedburner, etc.) are an example. Placing a very compelling advertisement into a set of great blogs that pull in just the kind of dedicated viewers you'd like to see your ad can drive up to 5-8% click-through rate. However, to "connect" with these loyal blog readers in a very niche area requires a really good visual ad and message, a really accurate campaign (i.e. placing the ad in just the right blogs, at just the right time), follow-through relationship-building, and payment. Like any other advertising medium, to get really good, focused exposure will cost a lot more - while casting a broader net and relying on more coarse matching between viewers and your ad content will cost less (as when using Google Adwords, with your content appearing not only in search results, but throughout the Google Adsense network, which many bloggers use). We'll point out that a key benefit to the Adsense network, is that advertisements include text-only types, which get indexed by the search engines.
Therefore, the first criteria to consider when embarking on such a specialized and effective advertising campaign, is your cost-benefit ratio. Costs will include time researching and planning the campaign (such as figuring out which blog network to use, which blogs or collections to select, and what actual advertisements to use), creating the advertisement itself, implementing and monitoring. Benefits can be a rapid boost to your image, reputation, inbound traffic and actual conversions. Note that the primary benefits are actual sales, but secondary benefits like impressions, brand awareness, "buzz" and word-of-mouth advertising are also important and can lead to future sales. Note also that a poorly-executed campaign brings not only the risk of wasted money and no sales, but could actually damage your reputation, especially in this social media (i.e. blogging) environment. Advertisements regarding "something for sale" run in social media networks (like Facebook or blog networks) that aren't focused on "buying things" will perform less effectively than the same advertisements run as search engine PPC campaigns (like Google Adwords). That's because more people are in "shopping mode" when searching, than when socializing.
So, figure on 8-12 hours service ($50-150/hr) from a typical, small ad agency to plan and create the basic campaign (if you're not doing it yourself) with one content network (presuming it's fairly straightforward, plus the ad and landing pages aren't real complex graphic designs), and then anywhere from several hundred to many thousands of dollars for the "blog ad buy" to run your advertisement, per week, in the blog network. We can quote you an estimate for a Blog Ad campaign, if we know approximately what your "ad buy" budget is, and obviously what the nature of the advertisement is (i.e. is it a special offer, just general awareness, a new product, response to competition, an ad combined with newsletter signup, etc.).
One last point - visual banner advertisements are fast becoming less effective than contextual and search advertising (and in fact aren't typically indexed by search engines); however, really well-placed graphic ads on well-read blogs can overcome the traditional stigma of "spam-like" banner ads.
Labels: Blog Advertisement Network