From the category archives:


Does Blogger Engagement Still Matter?

by Jason Preston on January 26, 2009

As we continue to help clients in their social media outreach strategies, I’m starting to notice that more and more people are turning away from blogs and blogger engagement to focus instead on social networking sites. Which begs an interesting question: does blogger engagement still matter?

After all, if you can generate good word of mouth and drive sales from efforts in sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace, why bother to court the hard-to-reach and often hard-to-impress blogerati like Scoble, Arrington, or Om?

Here’s why: because they’re hard to reach, and hard to impress, and everybody knows it. These bloggers have spent time building up a brand, and that carries value when they talk about your products or your messages.

Harnessing this trust, this existing relationship, is why it still matters to work with bloggers who have a name and a following, instead of simply trusting in the effectiveness of blind, stranger-to-stranger word-of-digital-mouth marketing.


Wired’s Paul Boutin joins the “blogs are dead” bandwagon

by Jason Preston on October 23, 2008

And I have to disagree completely. Blogging is far from dead—blogging is thriving. According to Paul, the reasons you should skip the blogosphere are, roughly:

  • There are too many other blogs
  • Writing more than 140 characters is too much work
  • Media companies are now blogging
  • Jason Calacanis isn’t doing it anymore

Blogging has always been a medium. It’s a tool that you can use in many ways, and what’s happened is that this tool has been adopted by a lot of people for a lot of different purposes.

Some of what Paul brings up is actually valid: gone indeed are the days when a wayward blog post about a popular subject like “Barack Obama” could rocket you to the top of Google. But a blog still beats a static web site on SEO hands-down.

And there’s also the way that a blog lets you connect with your niche. The Techmeme leaderboard does not define the blogosphere. It tracks the “broadcast blogosphere” – blogs from people and organizations big enough that they’re essentially going back to broadcast models.

Today is an excellent time to start a blog, either for yourself or for your business. You will undoubtedly find your tribe. OEM Software Shop


Are you in the publishing business?

by Jason Preston on July 1, 2008

For ages and ages “publishing” has meant going to a whole lot of expense to get something distributed to a large number of people.

If you look at things on a large enough scale, it goes like this:

First, if you wanted to share information with someone, you had to see them and talk to them.

Then, you could write it down and give it to them. They could write it again or simply pass the original document on.

Then someone figured out how to make identical copies of an original item without actually re-making the original.

Then we separated information from its physical form, and freed it from the laws of physics entirely. Suddenly getting information from point A to a place where every other person in the world can see it is easier than cooking dinner.

Often, this is called blogging. If you’re a company and you’re blogging, are you in the publishing business? Are you competing with your local newspapers and TV stations to get your customers valuable information in your space?

If you’re not, you’d better think about starting. Publishing is so cheap, there’s no reason not to be doing it.


How Google treats duplicate content from scrapers

by Jason Preston on June 10, 2008

I know I’ve said it before, but if you’re running your web site and you’re not paying attention to the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog, you’re ignoring a very good resource.

Just yesterday, Sven Naumann (who is on the search quality team) wrote a post dealing with concerns webmasters have about scraper sites that pull exact post content and republish it as their own.

So what does Google do? They use a couple of methods, which they don’t identify, to determine which bit of duplicate content is the original piece, and then point to those.

For people who see scraping sites placing higher in search results than their own, original content, they offer this advice:

Some webmasters have asked what could cause scraped content to rank higher than the original source. That should be a rare case, but if you do find yourself in this situation:

  • Check if your content is still accessible to our crawlers. You might unintentionally have blocked access to parts of your content in your robots.txt file.
  • You can look in your Sitemap file to see if you made changes for the particular content which has been scraped.
  • Check if your site is in line with our webmaster guidelines.

Largely, the answer seems to be “don’t worry, we’ve got a handle on it.” But if you want more details on how to minimize duplicate content within your own domain, you can go check out the post.

What I think Google really needs to solve though, is the arrival of “old” content for the first time online. How do you figure out who the real owner of that content is?


Forrester conducts some blog reader analysis

by Jason Preston on May 20, 2008

Over on the interactive marketing blog, you can find background information on the blog reader survey that Forrester gathered about four of their blogs: Web Strategist, the Interactive Marketing blog, Groundswell, and Being Peter Kim.

I thought some of the most interesting results are shown on slides 11 and 14. They tell you 1) how people are reading these blogs (overwhelmingly RSS) and 2) that these blogs are clear sources of authority in their space.

Here’s the slideshare of the results:


How do we maintain the tools we build?

by Jason Preston on April 10, 2008

A side effect of having a plethora of cool web services built by VC-backed entrepreneurs is that they all need to find an exit.

In recent times, that’s meant that companies get acquired as opposed to IPOs.

Check out Fred Wilson’s blog post today on finding new exit strategies.

I think it’s a good point that these services tend to languish under the ownership of large companies. It would be cool to find a new way to maintain high levels of innovation and still give investors and entrepreneurs the incentives to keep building them.


Battelle: Independent media brands are the future of the Web

by Jason Preston on April 2, 2008

This big long post on Searchblog requires some chewing. I’m going to take my first bite in public.

If I were to take what Battelle is saying and massively simplify it, it would looks something like this:

Consumer brands love to advertise around media brands that generate a lot of enthusiasm and dedication from their readers. Combine this with the fact that the print advertising industry is extremely mature (there is a formula in place that more or less works), and you realize why magazines can charge a crapload for a full page spread.

And the online equivalent of those magazines are…drumroll please…blogs! Or, in many cases, media sites built on blogging technology and an ethos that more readily matches the blogger than the mainstream media outlet.

The trick to print advertising, it seems, is that it exists in a format that has a lot better chance of connecting with the reader than advertising online. And Battelle rightly reminds us that online media is still extremely young, and we’re likely to see plenty of permutations of business models in the next few years that we haven’t even thought of yet.

If Battelle is correct in predicting the rise of online media brands, and I think he probably is, then there are going to be a lot of opportunities in this space going forward. What I want to know is how much “old media” brands will catch on and run with it, and how much of the space is going to go to newer, different media outlets like BoingBoing.


How well do Chitika ads work? Interviews with Jeff Sable (Chitika) and Gail Bjork (

by Jason Preston on March 31, 2008

moneyEveryone knows what the holy grail of blogging is. You get 100,000 daily pageviews for writing three quick posts, and then you have your chauffeur drive you to the bank to deposit your ad revenue.

Everyone is also slowly realizing that this will only ever happen to Cory Doctorow.

The real question is this: for the average blogger, what are the revenue systems available, and how well do they work?

I recently had a chance to talk with Jeff Sable from Chitika, a blogger-centric ad network, and with Gail Bjork, owner of Digital Camera Help, which serves both Adsense and Chitika ads.

Here’s what they had to say about Chitika’s ad offerings, and how effective they were in comparison to other options.

With Jeff Sable from Chitika

BBS: According to your site, Chitika ads are “designed exclusively” for bloggers. How are they different from other CPC solutions?

Jeff: There are a couple of aspects of our ads that have allowed bloggers, as well as other types of publishers, to improve the content of their web sites while making great money. First, our ads feature targeted products. This means the blogger or publisher can focus on writing great and interesting content and Chitika’s technology will automatically serve a relevant product-centric ad to the end user who is reading the content. Second, our ads are designed to complement a web site and “fit” into the site without adversely affecting the relationship with the reader. Because of the combination of these particular attributes and other features of Chitika ads, bloggers in particular have found Chitika ads to excellent and Chitika to be a great partner as they build their businesses.

[click to continue...]


Awesome advertising

by Jason Preston on March 27, 2008

One of the things about advertising on the internet is that it seems to blend more and more with marketing and with content.

Good, relevant advertising is content.

I was reading I forget what earlier today and I ran across an AmEx ad that was so awesome I took a screenshot of it, not that a screenshot will really convey the value:

Awesome AmEx Ad

What are you looking at? This is a screenshot of an interactive video display. If I clicked on any of the thumbnails I got about a minute and a half of video with Seth Godin moderating a discussion between Jimmy Wales and Sean Parker.

Awesome. I watched each video, and they were all interesting.

The point is this: AmEx might as well have written a blog post with some YouTube videos in it. I got the same value, and that was clearly an advertisement.

Good for AmEx, for using ad space well.

Good for you for blogging about your business, because blogging is a lot cheaper.


24/7 Wall St: Gawker Media is the most valuable “blog” at $150 million

by Jason Preston on March 26, 2008

The team over at 24/7 Wall Street have come up with a list of the 25 most valuable blogs (although they don’t tack a number on all of them), and topping the list is Gawker Media, meaning the complete blog network.

How does the valuation break down? Here’s the blurb:

If the [Gawker] sites generate one-and a-half page views per unique visitor and the total CPM value of the multiple advertisers on each page is $20, Gawker is an $11 million business which is still growing quickly. The company does not appear to be staff-heavy, so it is imaginable that the margins on the business are 50%. Would the business be worth 15x revenue or 30x operating profits? Could be.

As far as the math goes, I’ve seen worse attempts at breaking it down. The list tails off at just under a million dollars for Talking Points Memo.

I’m sure they missed several big blogs, and I’m sure they’ve got many of them pegged pretty far from what price they’d actually fetch, but it does underline the fact that blogs are still working as media properties, even if they’re out of the spotlight at the moment. They’re drawing revenue, and if they were for sale, they’d probably be fetching good prices.


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