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Affiliate Links, Loose Weight, Buy Pills, or Work Your Ad Inventory

Posted on April 21, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 (Observations) |

Bloggers shouldn’t expect or deserve Ad Revenue was the incendiary post from last week by Louis Gray. In short (and he’s right) advertisers are looking for high traffic sites that match what their clients are looking to promote (the demographic, be it age, interests or topics). The click through rate on the average personal blog is nowhere near the level to support a decent night on the town every weekend, let alone a living wage.

While it didn’t light up the weekend blogosphere, it was a good post, and lined up with one of those ephemeral Twitter conversations late on Sunday night on a similar subject - how journalism and specifically investigative journalism could finance itself in the oncoming Media 2.0 storm.

Of course there are always exceptions - and the big white hope is the soical network. They’ve got lots of traffic, and they know the demographcis of the users… they must be raking it in? No.

It’s all very well that large social networks have this vast pool of personal information and connections, but if they can’t turn these into effective adverts for the users, then sky high valuations will have to fall.

I wonder then, if Allen Stern has nailed how blogs and reporters could be organising their income over the next few years while waiting for the Ad Industry to catch up / alter / get some new blood on the big campaigns? In his post on the Facebook Ads that he received after switching gender, he wonders why every link heading out of Facebook and their ilk has to be these bottom of the barrel inventory filling ads, rather than a potentially more lucrative affiliates.

In Hudson’s example, both Twitter and Facebook could slap an affiliate code on the links that go out to the merchants and earn revenue on the transaction. FatWallet has made a very successful business this way and just think about how much larger Facebook is. Why any link from Facebook to Amazon would go out without an affiliate code is beyond me. And there are hundreds of other ways Facebook and other social networks can generate revenue. Cheesy bottom feeding CPM ads only hurt the image of the company.

Couldn’t agree more, but I wonder what the advertising industry thinks on this? After all, the majorit of them are still in the mindset that a big campaign must hit as many eyeballs as possible - while targeting is something they like, they still want millions of eyeballs. Small runs that would be suitable for blogs, new audio and video media, and effectively leveraging social media are out there, but not (IMO) in sufficient volume to make a appreciable difference.

And until then, there are other ways to both make money and keep your readers onside than offering them length beyond their wildest dreams.

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