BlogAds have been around a really, really long time. The service, founded by Heny Copeland pre-dates the Blog Herald according to Archive.org (I checked) by some 6 months, the first record being Nov 2002, with the scary thing is it looks the same then as it does today :-).
But as much as I like to reminisce to the days where Techonrati still listed blogs in six figures, this guide is on a more serious subject, and thats a guide to BlogAds, and more importantly making BlogAds work
What is BlogAds
Its hard to explain without pointing them out. If you look (at least at the time of writing) to the left navigation column to the right of this post you’ll see big ads. The top ads are BlogAds ads. They are script included ads specifically for blogs, and as far as I can remember they were one of the first services (if not the first) to provide advertising specifically for blogs. This is back in the days before Adsense even existed (Oct 03 according to Achive.org). Back in those days blog advertising was virtually non-existant, and where as today we’ve got a wealth of riches to choose from, back then I can remember bloggers criticizing other bloggers for running any ads…it was regarded as bad form (the first ad appeared on the Blog Herald in Oct 03, and it was an affiliate link).
A short history
BlogAds grew, and grew, and it became the biggest advertiser for blogs prior to the introduction of Google Adsense. Aside from services like Marketbanker (now Adbrite) not many other people wanted to know about blogs.
In its next faze came the political blogs, and The Daily Kos today is still the No. 1 ad serving site for BlogAds. BlogAds really found its niche with politically related advertising and during the 2004 US Presidential election campaign the service boomed.
BlogAds still works better for some sites rather than others. Henry’s played the consummate agent in attracting both publishers and advertisers on both sides of the political spectrum and it still today remains strong amongst political blogs both in terms of publishers and advertisers. But its grown a lot as well. Today BlogAds presents mini-networks of various subject types that attract a wider variety of advertisers. The only downside is that it doesn’t always work for everyone unless you fit a specific “box”. BlogAds works best if you can meet a topic area that others are already covering, for example politics, gadgets, sports… to name but a few. The best way is to browse the site and take a look. If you cant find a niche for your blog, or your blog is too much of a niche topic then its not going to work for you.
Making BlogAds work for you: publisher
There are two aspects to BlogAds that I want to cover here, mainly because both can work for you. As a publisher BlogAds can work for you, but here’s the catch: you’ve got to have half-decent traffic. From what I can gather, BlogAds displays ad display statics based on Unique users per week, on a revolving weekly basis, but only if you do 3,000 uniques a week. If you dig into the archives here at the Blog Herald you’ll see that I’ve criticised this in the past, and even today they still seem to report lower figures than other ad agents (and I know the BlogAds people well argue with this, please feel free to leave your comment). Having said this though I’ve worked within their system and had some decent results. Basically, to get on the BlogAds on your site make sure you are getting 3000 uniques a week, otherwise its not worth your time. Why? because despite the “advertise here link” I’d guess that 90% of the advertising comes from advertisers browsing the “Choose Blogs” list and now the “MiniNetworks” list at BlogAds. It’s that simple. To get an advertiser you’ve got to be on that list, if you’re not the chances of you landing an ad are slim. The higher your figure means your higher up the list which means your chances of getting advertising is better again (depending on how you price your ads)
Realistically you’ve really got to look at a niche unless you’ve got exceptional figures (20-30k+ uniques per week). The miniNetworks are the best way to go, certainly although I haven’t got a lot of advertising through BlogAds over on The Gadget Blog the ones I’ve got have usually been through a bulk buy across the mininetwork.
Making BlogAds work: advertiser
This is the part I’m really excited with, because one of my advertisers agreed to be used as my example, and that’s Jay
Rosen Brewer from the blog network Blogpire Productions. Standard disclaimer I suppose, no money changed hands for the deal, Jay is a good sport with a great network who happily agreed to me using him as my example.
I’ve had a lot of advertisers here on the Blog Herald over the past 2 years, and some work better than others. The Blogpire Productions spot worked particularly well.
Jay literally listened to my advice on BlogAds back in July and it worked, to the point that at one stage I actually had to ask him to change the graphic on an ad because it was a little bit too non-family friendly for the site.
What I said back then was:
From watching advertisers and their ads here, as well as having advertised sites of my own using Adsense, this is what works best
– T&A, and the bustier the better
– T-Shirts/ Humor
– Gizmos when done properly
– relevant political and current affairs material
but I’d like to expand that now to a more general image equation. BlogAds that involve a full size image at 150×200, with an action or person shot work a whole lot better than a smaller image with a logo. Full stop.
For what I can gather it wouldn’t be in breach of the BlogAds TOS to disclose the rates of other ads (including those running currently on the Blog Herald at the time of writing) however out of respect to my advertisers I wont name them, although I have permission to use Jay’s figures.
The Blogpire Productions slot has been rotated, and in this case through multiple blogs including Liquor Snob, Shaving Stuff, GPS Lodge and Shirt Snob and that’s an important aspect of any long term BlogAds advertisement, whether that be for one site, or several sites as the case may be with Blogpire. If its the same site I’d suggest changing the image weekly.
But lets look at some hard stats. The Blogpire Productions spot is just coming up to three months. If we look at it strictly on the basis of CTR the rate works out at 0.9% CTR. Sure, not super high but not unreasonable. Jay was lucky in some respects because he got in before I put the rates up so the ad cost $100 for 3 months (at the time of writing its $250). If we look at the ad spot in terms of CPC what we see is a cost per click of approximately 6 cents per click. From an advertisers view this is money well spent. Lets compare this to some of the advertisers, past and present, who have run small logo style ads. The oldest ad on the list at the time of writing has a CTR of 0.17% and a CPC of nearly 30c a click. A big difference. At the time of writing Ive got one other advertiser using the full 150×200 spot and the CTR is 0.85%, a little bit lower than the Blogpire spot but still a whole lot better than others running currently and in the past. The CPC is higher because of the shorter term and new rates for the spot, but its still presents a good value compared to Google Adwords rates as an advertiser, and others. This post at MediaPost talks about an Audi spot in similar terms. The moral: you can still shop around and get great returns and bargains as an advertiser using BlogAds, if you run your campaign right. Rotate, use your spot to the full, and its better value than others.
Correction: I got may Jays mixed up and called Jay Brewer Jay Rosen, apologies to Jay Brewer and has been corrected.