Why Big Brands Won’t Advertise On Your Blog

by Jason Falls |

Today at BlogWorld & New Media Expo, I’m giving a talk on brands and blogs. More specifically, I’m hoping to help bloggers understand the world of marketing a bit more so they can better serve their audience and their own interests by knowing the differences between public relations, advertising, media buying and how they sometimes work together … and sometimes don’t. The end result, I hope, is that bloggers have a stronger understanding of why asking a public relations professional to buy an ad is misdirected, or why asking a big brand’s marketing manager to buy an ad is too.

There are several other points to the talk, one of which is probably a bit hard for many bloggers to hear. As I walk them through the notion that a big company buying an advertisement on their niche blog is highly unlikely, mostly because of audience size compared to traditional media, I will make the statement that blogs really aren’t very attractive to advertisers compared to what they’re used to. Keep in mind, I’m happy to make the argument that a hyper-targeted, niche blog delivers a higher quality audience and one that is provides a potentially more effective media buy, you can’t deny the numbers.

Bloggers often want to know what big companies won’t buy ads on their blogs. It’s simple really. Big brands buy ads through media buying companies or agencies that provide media buying services. These companies aren’t hired unless the brand wants to spend tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising space (inventory) in print, outdoor, television and radio advertising. Large websites with media inventory to sell also factor in. Your blog probably doesn’t. Why? Traditional media buying is based on eyeballs. I worked with one large brand a few years ago that wouldn’t consider a purchase if the audience were less than 500,000 people in a given month.

Granted, this was a big brand, but using that math, let’s look at a top media outlet, a top blog and then a strong-but-not-top blog in a few verticals to see who would qualify:

Traditional media vs. Blog traffic comparison

The Huffington Post and TechCrunch have their mainstream counterparts beat. But those are two of the top 10 blogs in the world. They’re unique animals. The mid-level blogs in each category, as you can see, are no where near the 500,000 person cut-off, nor are they even close to the top blogs in their niche … most of whom aren’t above the half million mark, either. For many of us (me included), to approach a major brand and say, “I’d like for you to advertise on my blog,” is, frankly, laughable.

So a typical blog’s first hurdle is eyeballs. You don’t have enough to attract the major brands in your niche. Typical consumer product goods companies or retail businesses do, however, feature regional or even local marketing teams with budgets for market-specific media. But blogs are all but screwed there because outside of blogs with a geographic focus, you’re not a market-specific media member. You’re a blog. You’re global. The regional folks don’t want to spend money with you because you’re not a regional/local media member. Brands don’t want to spend money with you because you’re not big enough.

What’s a blogger to do?

Well, a few things:

  • First, and most importantly, understand that the brands are used to doing things the old fashioned way. Write or wrong, they’ve got the money. If you want it, you have to play their game.
  • Find out who to talk to on both ends … local and brand. Calling the brand manager isn’t going to help you. Calling the media planner/buyer for the brand or their agency will get you farther.
  • Next, get your ducks in a row and make sure you’re making convincing arguments with facts and figures — and not ones you made up! Show them Compete.com or Quantcast.com, or even Google Analytics numbers. Convince them the audience they want so desperately to reach is at your website and you know how to talk to them. There’s truth to the fact that blog content reaches consumers more effectively than that in an ad, just not that it reaches more of them. Do a great job of selling the ability to move customers to try/choose/consider and you’ll have a better shot of a sale.
  • Consider partnering with other blogs in your niche to over package deals on multiple sites that reach a similar audience. Ten websites with 25,000 uniques a month equals the brand reaching a quarter of a million people in that time frame. That’s worth most brands paying attention to.

I’d got on a bit about how some (not all … don’t have a hissy just yet) bloggers think their stuff doesn’t stink and they should learn how to behave more professionally, but that’s a whole different blog post. Plus, I can’t spill it all here. Gotta save something for the show, ya know.

Hopefully, those ideas will help you better monetize your blog. Until you get to the point of negotiating with big companies for ad dollars yourself, however, there are a few services you should check out to help you sell ads on your blog:

  • iSocket – Ad serving network that takes the back-end technical and financial work off your hands. I currently use iSocket on SME.
  • Federated Media – Ad network that serves the likes of ChrisBrogan.com and others.
  • ShareASale – Affiliate marketing ad server that requires you to pull and drop code for the advertisers you choose to be an affiliate for. I have an affiliate relationship with BlogWorld & New Media Expo through them.
  • Commission Junction – Same as ShareASale. I also have a few CJ affiliate relationships.
  • izea – The somewhat controversial paid blogging/sponsored tweets service that pays you to write about advertisers, not place ads for them.

Others I don’t know much about but seem credible at a glance:

What others do you use or know about. Please share in the comments so your fellow readers can get more ideas on how to drive advertisements to monetize their blogs. And if you have other ideas on how bloggers can network and sell through to big brands, trust me … I’m all ears. The comments are yours.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).