A Convergence of Advertising, Social, and Content

While not new, most professional blogs follow the media and advertising model that has existed for decades on TV, internet, and media: Create compelling content, and subsidize with advertisements. We see this as only the start, as ads will now start to integrate the crowd to create, source, become the creative, and share.

Remember the “Markets are conversations” motto from Cluetrain? Yet when it comes to social, Cluetrain believers have tried to keep this medium separate from traditional media models and keep it purely conversational. When we look closely, advertising is the primary revenue driver for Google, Facebook, and most social sites who provide free and compelling services in exchange for brands to share their offerings.

All of this mixture of corporate content, consumer media, and advertising is converging into one media type. In our upcoming Altimeter research report this Thursday (co-author Rebecca discusses the premise), we’ll be sharing The Converged Media imperative, where after dozens of interviews with agencies, brands, thought leaders and software innovators, we have found a trend where a new media type has merged, which we’ve dubbed “Converged Media”.

To celebrate this interchange of paid, earned, and owned, I wanted to get your opinion as readers if how you would react, feel, or engage with advertisements on this blog in the right column or on top banner. My promise is to only bring relevant ads (of companies that are related to topics I write about) and that do not interrupt (no popups, no takeovers, no auto-start media, no page turns). Additionally, I would experiment with new advertising forms (such as converged media), and then write about, sharing my experience.

Your opinion matters, so I’m listening, please leave a comment, ads on this Web Strategy blog? Cool or Drool?

Update: After careful review of comments, discussions, I have now decided to allow advertisements to appear on the right hand column. These will not be disruptive (popups, blocks, tear across) and I will personally review all content to ensure it’s related to the content strategy of this website. I’m thankful we can partner in all directions: website owner (me), readers (you), and sponsors (advertisers), to advance with converged media.

  • Jmswatzell

    As long as you can stay true to being transparent and authentic in your blog I think it is a great idea. I love your content. #founder. Besides you will be actually using the ideas you are developing so we can see how they work.

  • http://twitter.com/markgr Mark Greenfield

    No adds please.  ( the Cluetrain says it all)

  • http://twitter.com/ron_sparks Ron Sparks

    I get amazing free content, I figure the cost is that I may have to see some ads in exchange. And in the end if they are relavent it may actually be something new I want to know more about.However please don’t kill the user experience, and like you said if the ads are not just random google ads i’m okay with it.Guess I’m pretty easy to please

  • http://twitter.com/KarposMedia Karpos Media

    I think by now it’s quite reasonable and expected for bloggers to monetize their sites with paid ads. If the ads aren’t too distracting, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Even a paid tweet once in awhile for a service or event you endorse is fine – IMHO.

  • Bill Piwonka

    I don’t have an issue with ads being displayed.  Admittedly, most of the time I don’t even consciously “see” them.  But the more relevant they are to my interests, the more highly I would value them and potentially take action

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks all, I’m reading all these responses and am absorbing.  

  • Brian Reich

    I have no problem with ads – I understand, and frankly appreciate you asking. I’d love to see you have some influence over the ads, in terms of the content and focus – don’t leave it to the machines to decide what is best to sell readers based on what you write.  You could show the rest of the world how context really works if that advertisers were willing to work with you to deliver stuff that is aligned with your issues, sensibility, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/myz06vette Mike Beauchamp

    The old saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” rings true in all of these scenarios. If you’re not paying to use a product or benefit from a service (e.g. FB, Twitter, blogs, et al), you ARE the product. Advertisers buy the eyes of an established [targeted] audience which pays for the product you enjoy for “free.”

    That being said, we’ve all known for a while that ad models need to be rethought. Not only the display ad itself, but the monetization of those ads. I’m looking forward to reading your report about ‘Converged Media’, as I’m sure you’ll have some revealing takeaways about  how the ad landscape is changing. As marketers, we’re always looking for new ways to find, connect and engage with new prospects, all the while taking care of existing customers and building loyalty. Advertising and the various types of media play a role in all of that.

    I welcome relevant ads, sponsorships, paid endorsements, and/or other ad models on your blog. Going on the assumption you know your readers well enough, you shouldn’t have any trouble providing relevant ad media.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    I will approve all ad content, to ensure it’s the right fit within the Web Strategy mission.

    Also, I’m glad you appreciate it. To me, I have to *earn* the communities respect to do ads. I’m listening.

  • http://twitter.com/NDuvvuru Naren Duvvuru

    I feel Right Ads around Great Content you do is not a real a burden. In fact, it will likely help many to get to the right sources of tools or services assuming you will have the choice of who’s ad is out there.

  • http://twitter.com/NBRI NBRI

    I believe it’s more than reasonable to expect advertisements from the best blogs. It takes hard work to deliver the best content possible, and in the end it takes money. 

  • http://humanwebsite.com.my/ Kent

    Ads is actually another form of conversation. It is a conversation between ads and human. That’s the point of cluetrain manifesto. It doesn’t restrict only to conversation between human to human.

  • http://www.stealthmode.com hardaway

    I’ve been advising ZEDO, an ad tech company, for a year. On most publishing sites, there’s a huge conundrum: the ad sales guys want to sell more ads and the UX guys say no. No one asks the visitors. I think most visitors feel the way your readers do: they understand the need for ads. I think you should focus on relevant ads, and ads with interesting creative and/or formats.

  • http://www.marketingtechblog.com Douglas Karr

    I think there’s a general acceptance nowadays that when you provide value to the audience at no cost, one of the things you put up with is advertising.  We try to find relevant sponsors on our blog and the reception has been quite good.  Rather than hurting our traffic, I actually believe it’s added credibility (not that you need any!).

  • http://www.marketingtechblog.com Douglas Karr

    Not sure if you have a system yet, Jeremiah.  We utilize iSocket to do this.  It provides the entire ecommerce, self-service interface for people to purchase the ads, and notifies us so that we can approve them. It’s quite a nice system.

  • BryanPerson

    A couple of thoughts:

    1) I typically read your posts via RSS through Google Reader, and would guess that at least a decent segment of your readership does the same. We would only see the ads when — as I’m doing now — we come to the site to comment or read others’ comments.
    2) As an analyst, in particular, I think you walk an ever finer line with accepting advertising than most bloggers. After all, your job is write objectively about the businesses and brands that you cover, and I fear that advertising could color that perception of objectivity.  Presumably you face the same challenges in writing/blogging about brands/vendors that are already your clients, but courting/approving ads could leave you facing some very sticky questions. 

    That said, I appreciate your willingness to discuss this possibility openly, and to listen and respond to your community of readers!

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks Douglas, I’m talking to iSocket now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Durbin/510780787 James Durbin

    Ads are fine, but  I probably won’t see them unless I’m doing research.  

    The problem with ads on a site like this is that they take up space, and that space is better used for generating business.  While I make a few hundred dollars a month in passive income, it pales compared to a single well placed videoblog or banner of my own advertising a service.  

    I see the job board, and the speaking tab (although I have to go to the bottom to see how to book you), but if I wanted to hire you (and by you I mean Altimeter), there’s nothing on the blog that tells me how to do so.

  • http://about.me/haroldcabezas cabezas

    Jeremiah, thank you for asking-that says so much.  I trust your judgement; whatever you decide will be fine for me.  As long as there are no pop-ups {LOL}, do as you may.  Cheers!  

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielryanrobinson Daniel Robinson

    Hey Jeremiah – remember the guy in Toronto who asked you about this during your speaking session? Well that’s me. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this report as my company has been cranking on a new piece of software that fits directly into the Converged Media model. I’d love to show it to you when you have the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Josh-Grossman/1251397569 Josh Grossman

    Every other site has advertising, so why not yours? Seems like a no brainer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jdoran89 Joe Doran

    You should do it.  I think Digiday and AdExchanger do a decent job of having the right “sponsors” and delivering value.  If you think of it as native monetization or more converged media – I think you will have a very interesting model.  I like seeing what companies sponsor Digiday and AdExchanger but what I really want to know is what are they up too – bringing in their social expressions into their sponsorship would be great.   

  • Annabel Youens

    Relevant, approved and appropriate ads can be quite valuable to us readers. Take a look at Penny Arcade who have been carefully selecting ads on their site for years – gamers know they’re “approved” and quite often get access to new games, gear & info ahead of other communities. (Although they’re exploring a new option now on Kickstarter).

    I’ve always believed ads could ad value if they were done properly. Jeremy I reckon you’d do it right.

    Thanks for asking.

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  • Guest

    I agree. You can’t get anything for free these days and although we don’t always like to admit it, it’s money that make the world go around, the media still largely relies on advertising.

    I would have no problem with advertising in the sidebar of your blog, or even a banner, as long as it’s not ‘in your face’ or pop ups.  After all, we are so saturated with advertising nowadays, we simply choose to read what we want, and if it helps you to continue producing the blog, well so be it.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks, “Guest”, I agree to the terms you suggested.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Daniel, yes!  Great to connect with you.  Report goes live soon.  Please send me an email and I’d like to learn more.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    I agree to the terms Cabezas.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks Bryan.  Analysts have this problem and bloggers as we often have these vendors as clients.  We try to do our best to disclose our relationships.  I do this inline when possible, as well as in reports, and also below my faces in the right side bar.

    Here’s the disclosure policy as good measure (Summary: We disclose our client relationships if they allow us to, we want to build trust with our marketplace)

    http://www.altimetergroup.com/about/policies/disclosure

    On a side note, Altimeter limits vendor revenue, at this time, we will not exceed 50% of total company revenues beyond vendors.  To date, we’re at about 25%, as was told to me from Charlene.   

    Openness and transparency are core values we really try to live.

  • http://mikethoughts.com miketempleton

    I’m looking forward to the upcoming report. You’ve done a great job bringing relevant research to light.

    And as for the ads, I say bring ‘em on. What better way to experiment with the media you’re discussing than to incorporate it into your blog? Plus, given you experience within this space, I know you’ll find a way to make the advertising relevant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielryanrobinson Daniel Robinson

    Check your inbox Jeremiah, excited to connect.

  • http://www.propr.ca thornley

    Jeremiah, I’m all for experiments and what we can learn from them. I hope you’ll share your observations of the impact of the introduction of ads and their performance.

    For my part, I think that the key phrase in your post is “only … relevant ads (of companies that are related to topics I write about).” If this were the case, your ads might well function as an extension of your content. And I’m here for the content.

    The failing of most Web ads is that they tend to be “noise” and I filter out and ignore the noise. Why are they noise? Because if the best ad server seems to deliver ads that often has little relevance to the content of a specific post. When I do glance at them, I’m inclined to see them as irrelevant. And this causes me to simply ignore them. (In fact, I cannot remember the last time I clicked on an ad on a Website, other than a search ad.)

    So, I’m all for you trying out ads. After all, this is your space that you share with us. Let’s get on with the experiment.

  • http://www.propr.ca thornley

    Bryan, you make a good point about not seeing the ads when we are looking at content in our RSS Reader. That’s how I too get most of my content, via RSS feeds in Google Reader.

    However, also like you, I click through to the actual site to read the content that I’m most interested in. I do this so that I can highlight, tag and save it in Diigo/delicious. So, while I’d miss the ads on most sites I read, I definitely see the ads on the sites with the content that’s most directly of interest to me. I would think that would make the ads of even greater value to the advertisers. Highly relevant content delivered to an interested, engaged reader.

  • http://web-strategist.com/blog Jeremiah Owyang

    Thanks all, I carefully read (and responded to many) comments.  I agree to the terms put out by most:  Do it, but be respectful to the community.  

    I will also use this as a testing ground, on the impacts of ‘Converged Media’ (integration of paid, owned, and earned) and will want to talk to you all about what we’re seeing, and continue to learn together.

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  • http://www.connectme360.com/ Brian Hayashi @connectme

    With the increased attention buyers are paying to the provenance of the things they buy and the media they read, perhaps it is time to revisit “Standards and Practices” for media.

    Standards and Practices documents follow the trusteeship model: people like you have a responsibility to the public interest as a result of your having access to a scarce resource, and to guard against propaganda. Perhaps the most important reason that standards and practices documents found a foothold was because they became the bulwark against the uncertainties of coping with the unprecedented access that electronic media had to buyers, unforeseen, often unbidden, and sometimes unwelcome. Reading the justification from fifty years ago, it is easy to see the parallels to today.

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