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Targeting Conversations, Not The Whole Web

Rob Crumpler, CEO of online advertising company BuzzLogic, says there’s a strong correlation between campaign effectiveness and blog quality. But quality doesn’t necessarily mean popularity; more likely it has to do with the strength of a blogger’s influence.

“In this fragmented media environment,” he tells WebProNews, “it has become clear that a popular site isn’t necessarily influential when it comes to niche subject areas. Many lesser-known blogs have the capability to deliver great advertising results, they’re just not getting paid for it.”

Indeed the sheen on AdSense has lost some luster in recent months with bloggers complaining of declining revenue. Affiliate networks in general seem as lacking as they seem abused. What’s more are the media powerhouses and big brands coming online are squeezing out smaller advertisers while encouraging fragmentation among content producers. Just as small business can’t compete with big name brands, quality, unaffiliated content producers are forced to drill down and specialize in the face of big brand content with its broader aims.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Quality specialization produces loyal, focused audiences, which produce advertisers very interested in reaching them. Hoping to capitalize on this idea, BuzzLogic unveiled today its Conversation Ad Network, previously in beta, and previously guaranteeing $2 CPM. That guarantee was not extended for the broader launch, but Crumpler suggests that since over 80 percent of online ad inventory sells for less than $1 CPM, BuzzLogic is definitely looking to produce better than the average.

And during beta testing they were sure able to that. Crumpler boasts of banner ads generating 86 percent higher click-through rates than ones on other systems and that visitors end up spending 6.25 percent longer on those destination sites.

BuzzLogic’s new ad network currently has over 500 blogs participating with a half-dozen or so being added daily. Though bloggers can apply to be included in the network, they are generally chosen on an algorithmic basis, editorially vetted, and then invited to join. The Conversation Ad Network is designed to reward bloggers who lead influential conversations on specific topics by matching them up with quality advertisers.

Crumpler is employing what he calls a “no remnant strategy,” a phrase critical of networks who slap leftover inventory onto leftover affiliate blogs (think made-for-AdSense ones). Instead, BuzzLogic is focusing on the blogger’s trust and credibility from the start. The algorithm ranks bloggers for influence and credibility within a given niche, scoring them based on things like the number of times a blogger has talked about a certain topic, and how often posts are linked to other conversations on the Web. After the algorithm, humans get involved for further analysis.

BuzzLogic cites some fairly big name advertisers trying to reach these highly specific blog-consumers. Crumpler mentions, a US Dept. of Defense buzz site owned by Monster, which was looking to increase readership via RSS and newsletters. BuzzLogic was able to target audiences interested in the defense or weapons procurement industry. He mentions also K-Swiss and their launch of a high-end running shoe for tri-athletes, and the University of Denver’s promotion of their MBA program.

Andy Knight, who runs a site dedicated to vintage denim (talk about niche!) called Denimology, participated in the beta testing. “Being a part of the Conversation Ad Network allows me to focus on creating really good content, rather than how I’ll make a living from my blog,” he said. “Content is really the key to driving readership on my site.”

Well, hasn’t it always been?

About the Author:
Jason Lee Miller is a WebProNews editor and writer covering business and technology.

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