So I read a great post by @CapeTown_Girl today about bloggers not getting paid by brands to write posts and it got me thinking about the constant battle between bloggers and advertisers in terms of value and budgets. Seeing as I qualify as both a digital advertiser and a blogger I wanted to add my two cents…
So let’s just get some perspective here so that you can see where I am coming from. I happen to be on both sides of the fence in this debate. During the day I am a digital media strategist (looking for online channels that will best reach my clients target audience, which often includes blogs), at night I am a blogger (while I have only done a few posts here, I have been actively blogging on my other blog PixelVulture for the past few years and have written over 400 posts). So I reckon that this should qualify me in both aspects of this debate.
Blogs are not websites
Blogs are not your mass reach websites that are run by teams of 50 writers that sit in a fancy office somewhere with glittering titles and a regular salary. Blogs are often individuals that write zealously about their area of expertise in their spare time while trying to make a living doing something else. They are motivated by their interest in their category and their passion for writing. While websites receive hundreds of thousands of impressions and reach very broad audiences, blogs are much more niche with smaller, more targeted audiences. What this means is that very often bloggers are unable to make a decent amount of money from traditional online advertising such as banners due to the large scale of impressions needed for that model to be profitable. Where a large website will make advertising income from banners and often publish press releases for free, a blog doesn’t have that luxury.
What brands really want
What brands really want (or should be asking for) is a customised brand engagement that reaches highly targeted audiences with a relevant message within a trusted environment. Sounds like a lot of marketing BS, but think why an advertiser has decided to use a blog rather than a bigger website? The beauty of using a blog as a digital channel is the ability to create a customised experience. All the bloggers that I know would be willing to go the extra mile and help create something engaging for a brand and their audience. This is something that a traditional website is just not able to do. This customised experience and content will probably only reach a few thousand people, but the effect that it will have on them will be impactful.
So should blogs be charging based on impressions, views, word count? No. Blogs should charge based on their ability to create inspiring content that aligns with a brands communication objectives and the quality/loyalty of their audiences. From a digital advertising perspective I can see that the traditional online advertising methods, such as banner advertising, are just not relevant anymore. Charging advertisers for an impression just doesn’t cut it today. Agencies and brands are starting to make the shift across to engagement based advertising and are seeing the fact that often quality brand experiences mean much more to a user than seeing a banner flash at them (if they even see it). However this is the bread and butter of the online publishing industry and is currently the only way that they can monetize their properties. This shift has been happening online for a while now and is evident in the rapid rise in importance of blogs.
Brands know the importance of blogs, they just don’t know how to justify spending money when their budget evaluation metrics are based purely on reach. A fundamental shift needs to happen within online advertising in order to change the way advertisers interact with both websites and blogs, both have specific roles to play in an online marketing mix and should be treated with equal respect and importance.