Beware: This is a long long post. Longer than usual. I think.
So, I was invited to The Open Room event hosted by Ogilvy. Daryl Tay from Unique-Frequency shared about his interactions or rather lack of interactions with the people from the companies. By his standard of using namecards, I think I was slightly luckier than him.
I think it might help going for such events alone. Why? For brief moments of the evening, without the support group of friends, I did feel slightly isolated. Damn that room. There was nowhere to hide! Thankfully for me, Brian and his colleague Mel really are the consummate PR professionals. They introduced me to a bunch of really interesting people.
One of them was Keith from Nokia and he demonstrated Nokia’s sharing platform Ovi.com. Seemed easy enough to use. Sadly, my phone doesn’t come preloaded with the software. I really should explore my phone more besides just using it for phonecalls, messaging and taking photos.
I lamented to Keith how each new variation of Snakes on the Nokia phones just disappointed me and I really preferred the original 2d Snakes on the Nokia phones. Keith was helpful enough to suggest a site I might get that version. I realized while I am perfectly comfortable tinkering with the hardware of my desktop and installing new software on my MacBook just to test test play play, I really haven’t gotten into the mindset that my phone can be ‘messed’ around with. Hmmm…
Anyway, Keith also showed me the pictures of his kids. I think his oldest was like 9 years old. And he didn’t look old enough to be a father of such a big kid. Apparently the products of NiuSkin really work.
Ok. The one thing I really took away from that night was the Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics shared by John Bell.
Ogilvy PR’s Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics
* We reach out to bloggers because we respect your influence and feel that we might have something that is “remarkable” which could be of interest to you and/or your audience.
* We will only propose blogger outreach as a tactic if it complements our overall strategy. We will not recommend it as a panacea for every social media campaign.
* We will always be transparent and clearly disclose who we are and who we work for in our outreach email.
* Before we email you, we will check out your blog’s About, Contact and Advertising page in an effort to see if you have blatantly said you would not like to be contacted by PR/Marketing companies. If so, we’ll leave you alone.
* If you tell us there is a specific way you want to be reached, we’ll adhere to those guidelines.
* We won’t pretend to have read your blog if we haven’t.
* In our email we will convey why we think you, in particular, might be interested in our client’s product, issue, event or message.
* We won’t leave you hanging. If your contact at Ogilvy PR is going out of town or will be unreachable, we will provide you with an alternate point of contact.
* We encourage you to disclose our relationship with you to your readers, and will never ask you to do otherwise.
* You are entitled to blog on information or products we give you in any way you see fit. (Yes, you can even say you hate it.)
* If you don’t want to hear from us again, we will place you on our Do Not Contact list – which we will share with the rest of the Ogilvy PR agency.
* If you are initially interested in the campaign, but don’t respond to one of our emails, we will follow up with you no more than once. If you don’t respond to us at all, we’ll leave you alone.
* Our initial outreach email will always include a link to Ogilvy PR’s Blog Outreach Code of Ethics.
I think this is a brilliantly conceptualized Code of Ethics. Why? Because they are applying the principle of “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. Secondly, they show the understanding that blogs have their place in a marketing campaign, just another tool to use, but isn’t the end all be all of online marketing. One of the problems with people peddling ad spaces on blogs is that they hype up the effectiveness of blogs in online marketing. We don’t get it from these guys. Nice.
What exactly is a blog? Is is a word that describes a tool or a form?
Take TechCrunch for example. Is it a blog? Well, it uses a blog as the publishing tool. But the form? By the way, what is the form of a blog post? Can it even be defined?
Is the form of a blog post distinguished by its relative informal style of writing as compared to that of an article on a newspaper or other more old-school, mainstream media properties like nytimes.com. Or is just the bad English, limited vocab and grammar like this blog.
Ok. Where am I going with this. It would probably be superfluous to note that there are many types of blogs. One of the types which I suspect constitutes a high number in Nuffnang’s community of bloggers is exemplified by blogs like Xiaxue, Estee and Dawn (list compiled in increasingly level of hotness).
Firstly, Nuffnang is used as an example because they are the highest profile local blog advertising network (at least in my view of this world).
Nuffnang has this pitch for bloggers:
Firstly, there are the monetary gains! We’ll do all the groundwork looking for advertisers and link you in with them. Once an ad is served on your blog, you start making income!
It is our sincere belief that Blogs should be credible and rich sources of information. Correspondingly, we will do our utmost best to ensure the ads served on your Blog match your content and readership as closely as possible. What this means is that your readers will be up to speed with the best deals in the market place!
How people using Nuffnang can try to monetize their blog:
1. Cost Per Unique Visitor Ads
2. CPC Ads
What Nuffnang is doing for the bloggers:
1. Blogger Partners
2. Blogger Outings
3. Affiliate Programme
4. Networking Sessions
5. Sponsorship for Blogger Related Events
The stuff Nuffnang is trying to do for the blogging community isn’t new. It resembles a lot what a manager running a Rewards / Loyalty Club Scheme might do. The monetization strategy for blogs is the same as any form of media advertising. Get something which pulls in lots of traffic / eyeballs and stick ads. Of course, we can make the ads more relevant. Really? Are these ads any more relevant then the sort I see when I watch soccer on ESPN. The conceit of people plying the online advertising space is that contextual advertising and demographic targeting is way better than say what we get on radio, print and tv. Really?
Seriously. Really? Think about your experience with Google ads on blogs.
If you need a reminder, see this post – Christian blog against gay lifestyle has Google Ad promoting the gay lifestyle.
Even if it is better, what ad networks like Nuffnang is doing is basically just turning blogs into ad spaces that do not take advantage of the uniqueness of blogs as a form and tool. Sure, blogs give more people a voice. Opinions of most of these bloggers wouldn’t have had a chance to be heard before blogs and these opinions do matter. But, what this just means is that you got more people producing content at more places, and more places to stick ads.
Nothing done so far seems to be born out of the uniqueness of blogs as a medium and form. What do I mean? What am I actually looking for?
Blog based marketing shouldn’t just be about bloggers talking about your products in advertorials or reviews or posts after an event.
Blog based monetization shouldn’t be about ads or about writing advertorials, reviews and post-event news.
Then what should it be about? The key was this line – We won’t pretend to have read your blog if we haven’t.
See, if you read my blog, you will know I am interested in Christianity. If you really read my blog, you will know more about this interest – that I’m not a hardcore Christian who will faithfully go for Festival of Praise nor am I a person who wants nothing to do with Christianity. My feelings and thoughts about Christianity is somewhere in between and if you read my blog to understand, you will know where exactly in between.
My point? Contextual advertising probably can understand the content for individual posts. Maybe even understand what the whole blog is about. But as of now, it cannot understand me as a person. The algorithm does not have the ability to meet me in person over a cup of coffee at Starbucks below your office to talk shop (hint to someone mentioned above).
So, here is why I think the future of blog (and here, I’m referring to a very specific form) monetization (and I believe there are many ways a blog can benefit you monetarily without exactly putting dollars, and in Nuffnang case it seems, cents into your bank account) and blog based marketing isn’t more algorithms for contextual advertising or more ad networks just to treat blogs as ad space and bloggers as anonymous content producers that draw traffic but PR companies like Ogilvy who bring their offline skills in understanding people and connecting people in the online world.
Now, Nuffnang lovers, I do recognize Nuffnang is trying to connect people. Maybe even understand people. But let’s take a look at some numbers – they have thousands of blogs in their network. If you tell me they have a relationship with everyone of those bloggers and understand them as individuals, either you are lying or you are on some narcotic (hint. I might like some cos whatever it is, it seems to put you in a happy happy place).
Nuffnang business model is about numbers.
Ogilvy is talking about people actually reading the blogs. Obviously there are limitations. It might not scale so well. Now. The key then is to build the (or just tweak existing) tools for PR people to do their job easier and better.
Now, here is something I want to add. When I get to know a person better, I stop caring so much about their interests. I do of course. But more importantly, I care about how their life can be better. The last line is a hint where I think the new companies focusing on blog based marketing and blog monetization should focus on.