Since Jason and I both work at a Louisville advertising agency and are both also bloggers, we have kind of an interesting perspective on blog advertising and sponsorship.  

On the one hand, we understand firsthand how hard it is to build up a quality blog.  From finding or creating the right design, to crafting compelling content, to going out there and hitting the trenches of social media promotion to build an audience, developing a good blog is a lot of hard flippin’ work.  (Which is why I laugh hysterically whenever someone tells me they’ve decided to blog as a “get rich quick” scheme.)

However, over on the advertising agency/client side of things, I also understand how hard it is to sell blog sponsorship and advertising to a client.  Clients expect things like hard traffic numbers, average clickthrough rates, and demographic information–and often bloggers don’t provide that information.

So in an effort to help both sides of the equation help each other, may I respectfully offer the following suggestion?  Bloggers, if you’re serious about attracting sponsorship, get serious about providing good, solid, third-party data on your audience to potential sponsors.  

It can be as simple as toodling on over to Quantcast, and adding their code to your site.  Crowd Science is another service that’s currently in open beta that offers demographic profiling for blog audiences.  If anyone knows of other similar offerings, feel free to chime in on the comments.

I can say from hard experience, selling an advertiser on a placement on your blog is infinitely easier if I can honestly argue “their audience may be small, but they’re passionate, engaged, and exactly the demographic you’re looking to hit–and here’s proof from a third party.”  Truthfully, for advertisers with a local focus, or better yet a hyperlocal focus, you have a good shot at being a high-value, low cost option, even if your traffic numbers don’t rival Techcrunch.  

Smaller, hyperlocal blogs are typically less cluttered with ads than bigger local sites.  For a nice case in point, check out your local television station or newspaper’s site sometime.   They also connect in a much more personal way with their audience, which gives even display ads the appearance of a certain amount of word-of-mouth personal endorsement.  In fact, smart bloggers only accept advertisers they do personally endorse, and in addition to the ad-space, they mention their advertisers in their posts when it’s appropriate and relevant.  

If you’re absolutely opposed to collecting or providing demographic information on your audience, then the next best thing is to have at least a good solid knowledge of what your traffic numbers are, be willing to provide at least summary analytic data to back up your traffic data, and craft a statement about what audience your content is targeting (and hopefully hitting.)

Interest in blog sponsorship is growing in the corporate sector.  By taking the single, fairly simple step of having good data to provide to potential advertisers, you make your blog a lot harder to resist.

img courtesy of nookiez on sxc

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About Kat French

Kat French

Kat French is the Digital Operations Manager at CafePress. An exceptional writer both on the web and in other genres, Kat combines creativity with an agile, get-it-done attitude across a broad range of experience in community management, SEO/PPC, social media strategy and program management. She has worked with national brands like Maker's Mark, Daytona Beach Tourism, Optima Batteries and more.

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.consuminglouisville.com Michelle

    This is a topic of interest to me as my traffic continues to grow each month and I'd like to integrate advertising into Consuming Louisville more. I use both Mint and Google Analytics to track stats for the site so I have that kind of information available. I am opposed to collecting demographic data though because the intrusiveness from collecting that data gives absolutely no value to my readers.You and Jason should make Consuming Louisville your pet project for developing a plan for selling ads on hyperlocal blogs. That's be another notch in Doe's Social Media belt.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      While we're happy to develop plans for selling ads on hyperlocal blogs, Michelle, the simple fact remains that our clients want to hit specific demographic targets. The demographic collection (which can be done in a non-obtrusive, estimated scale for now with sites like Quantcast) is often times the single-most relevant determining factor for an advertiser. For instance, if a new product is targeting affluent mothers, we need to take recommendations to them for advertising on sites that we know reach a high concentration of affluent mothers. 65 percent female won't cut it.

      Yes, the primary benefit of the advertising is money in your pocket, but I would argue that serving the right demographics with relevant advertising is of great value to your readers. Without collecting that data, you're just throwing ads at them hoping they make sense.

    • KatFrench

      Another option is to do polling or surveys in the sidebar that collect other information, in addition to straight demographics, that will allow you to better serve readers.

      In the case of Consuming Louisville, you have a really tight editorial focus on upcoming events. It might be nice to know if your readers would like to see more post-event coverage, like photos from an art opening or festival. Asking those kinds of questions in addition to demo questions, and using a less-obtrusive sidebar poll as opposed to a pop-up (which I admit are obnoxious from a user standpoint), might be a way to make it more of an “even trade-off” in value for readers.

      You get information that makes you more attractive to advertisers, and your readers get to chime in on things they'd like to see in exchange for providing some anonymous information.

      Truthfully, it IS a trade-off. It's asking for something of value from your readers: information, and the time it takes to provide it. But it's a trade-off that can potentially be worth it, if it can be done in a way that doesn't lose your readers in the process.

    • http://www.crowdscience.com johnmartin78

      Kat/Jason, thanks for the link!

      Michelle, it is perhaps the case that survey-based research is not right for every audience, but I think if you're clever about it you can do it in a way that doesn't bother your visitors. That's certainly what we're trying to do with Crowd Science Demographics.

      For a start, as long as you invite respondents in a fair and randomized way, you only need to survey a very small number of visitors to get reliable data that you can project across your entire audience.

      And then, for those visitors that you do engage, as long as you're polite about the way that you invite them and reasonable about the length of the survey you're asking them to take (the shorter the better!), there is very little negative effect. In fact, most of the people that have some connection to the author or to the content will be happy to share a little about themselves and give some feedback.

      BTW, we have a sidebar invitation that works really well for blogs. You can see an example of it over here:

      http://crowdsciencetestthree.weebly.com/?__cs_t

      Hope that helps. Good luck with CL!

  • http://warner-carter.com/blog warner444

    Good points, not being in the advertising business like you are, I never thought about what an advertiser would need to convince them to advertise on my blog. Since advertisers are looking for targeted advertising having 3rd party visitor data should be very convincing.

  • http://www.patrickokeefe.com iFroggy

    Quantcast is interesting. I may start using it. Thanks for the reminder.

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