Advertisers, including Paramount Pictures, The Wall Street Journal, and the Gap, are successfully reaching niche audiences for a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. As a result, a handful of bloggers are earning six-figure incomes from their blogs.

Why aren't more advertisers and bloggers getting together? Three reasons: fear, ignorance and the knowledge that a lot of pioneers get shot.

With click-through rates in traditional online advertising dropping, inexpensive blog click-throughs are as high as 5%. Blogs provide advertisers an excellent opportunity to reach a devoted audience niche for as little as $10 a week.

Already, blogs such as DailyKos , which receives 15 million page views a month, get $9,000 a week for advertising. Inventory is sold out weeks in advance.

Advertising on blogs is not like buying a minute on the Super Bowl, says Henry Copeland, founder of Blogads , which matches advertisers with blogs.

In his view, successful blogs are edgy and have a sense of humor, and they are recognized experts in a narrow niche. Blog audiences look at traditional ads like "Click here, get 20% off," and say, "Screw this, I've seen it everywhere," Copeland says.

Advertisers should look at blogs in terms of brand development, says Rick Bruner of Business Blog Consulting . It's easy for a billion dollar company that has a customer service or brand blog to see $100K worth of value, Bruner says, "and that's just a bug fart in the marketing budget of a Fortune 500 company."

Blogs are efficient buys

For companies, blogs are extremely efficient buys compared with traditional online buys such as banner ads, says Steve Hall, publisher of the popular adrants blog. "Blogging in general is coming out of its geeky shell. In the early days, people said, 'You can't put ads on the Web!' Now, any good media buyer is going to do a test on blogs."

In a clueless explanation of blogging's appeal, CFO.com says, "For just a few hundred dollars, companies can start a buzz about new products, tout awards won, and generally blow their own horns."

Wrong! Nobody is going to read a self-trumpeting blog or one that's awash in PR-ese. In fact, compelling content is the driving force—and any company that doesn't realize that will have a blog that's bound for oblivion.

Advertising is not the only way for bloggers to make money, say Bruner. Bloggers could have a hybrid of free and paid content, Bruner suggests, with micro-payments of as little as 50 cents for reading subscriber-only articles or papers.

One blog that does this is adrag , which charges $2 a month for subscribers to view its huge video archives of commercials.

Bloggers—and their advertisers—also could sell music remixes, reports, all kind of in-depth posts that could sell for a few dollars, Bruner says. With over four million bloggers, almost no one is doing anything like this, he says, although people like Nick Denton are paving the way.

Denton's Gawker Media publishes blogs, including Gawker, Wonkette, Fleshbot and his "testosterone trio": Jalopnik , a car site; Kotaku , for video gamers; and Screenhead , which is about "funny shit."

His blogs have attracted advertisers such as Nike, NewLine Cinema and General Electric. Audi is the most significant advertiser so far, providing "evidence that blue-chip marketers are finally looking at weblogs as part of their online media mix," according to Denton.

Clearly, no company, organization or association can afford to ignore blogs any longer. Early adopters have taken the lead, and blogs are finally entering corporate consciousness.

Although every publication on the planet seems to have run at least one article about blogs, the first question I am asked in every blog seminar I give is always this: "What's a blog?"

Pretty soon, the companies that don't know the answer will pay the heavy price of obsolescence.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

B.L. Ochman is a social media marketing strategist for S&P 500 companies, including McGraw Hill, IBM, Cendant, and American Greetings. She publishes What's Next Blog and Ethics Crisis, where readers can confess their worst ethics transgressions and others can rate them on a scale of one to ten. She also blogs for MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog.