A Mini-Interview With Henry Copeland From Blogads

John Hawkins:: How much of a drop off in advertising, if any, has there been from the election until today?

Henry Copeland:: After dropping 40-50% for the first couple of months after the election, it looks like we’ll be at new highs in March and April. I won’t call it a tipping point, because you can only see those in retrospect, but we’re definitely at a tottering point.

John Hawkins:: Can you give us an estimate of how many blogs cracked $25,000 in revenue earned last year & how much the top 5 blogads bloggers earned last month?

Henry Copeland:: Don’t want to be specific, but I can say a number of bloggers make more selling blogads each month than my own salary.

John Hawkins:: Do you believe the number of advertisers and amount of revenue generated by blogging is going to continue to grow for the rest of this year and into next year?

Henry Copeland:: I think the numbers will continue to grow at LEAST until bloggers get 0.1% of the total US annual advertising spend, $250 billion. That may take 3 years or it may take 18, but it is inevitable. Bloggers understand their subjects and their audiences better than anyone else in media AND they’ve got the lowest overheads. After all, pajamas cost much less than suits.

John Hawkins:: I want you to play Nostradamus here — don’t worry, everybody understands you’re just speculating — and give me an estimate: How many bloggers do you see reaching the “earning a living” threshold over the next few years?

Henry Copeland:: I’d be thrilled to reach 500. But 5000 is possible. And if things go really well 50,000.

John Hawkins:: Are you considering branching out into other types of ads like banner ads or text ads?

Henry Copeland:: We’re just now adding a pure text unit, something designed to promote more intra-blog communication: 500 characters, no image, no edit, no HTML, no breaks, no bulk buy. Banners and other IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) units are antithetical to the spirit of blogging — there’s no relationship with hyper-literate, hyper-linked conversational blogger way of thinking. We’ve accomodated a couple of big advertisers with IAB units and they’ve splattered like a rotten watermelon. IAB units were designed as part of the old top-down approach to media: companies talk, consumers listen. The new model is horizontal –everybody talks and learns and smart companies listen more than they talk.

Yes, we’ve got other ad units in the works, but we’re in no rush to go down the IAB blind alley. Let’s talk again later in early summer.

John Hawkins:: Do you ever reject any advertisers or do you leave that to the bloggers?

Henry Copeland:: We’re a bridge between bloggers and advertisers rather than a gatekeeper, so we leave that up to the bloggers.

John Hawkins:: What do you think it is going to take to get big companies to start regularly planning blogosphere advertising campaigns to go along with their radio and TV campaigns?

Henry Copeland:: Though we’ve got lots of “keeping up with the Jones’ advertisers,” we’ve now got a handful of brilliant advertisers and agencies who actually understand the opportunities of communicating with these highly networked, influential communities, and have an inkling of how to participate in these communities. I’m very pleased that we are now a standard part of THEIR media planning. But for your average advertiser, it will be a long time before blogads are part of the plan. Traditional media and traditional companies are too top down, too rigid. It is going to be a slow process of education and iteration.

John Hawkins:: Are advertisers able to get more bang for their buck with bloggers than they can with let’s say print media? How do the numbers work out?

Henry Copeland:: There’s been an evolution of the metrics for measuring online advertising. In the early days, it was just “sponsorship,” translating from the traditional print… you buy this spot for a week or a month or a year. Then advertisers figured out that some sites had bigger audiences and the “impressions” metric took hold. Then everyone moved to “clicks,” since advertisers realized that you can buy lots of garbage impressions but produce no results. Then they decided that clicks weren’t what really mattered, because you can get lots of clicks but no sales. So now people focused on actual conversions or sales resulting from clicks. That’s what Google is doing a wonderful job of facillitating, and many people are very focused ONLY on immediate ROI (Return On Investment).

Depending on your ad, blogads do really well on all those measures. We’ve got advertisers with 1 cent CPCs (cost-per-click). And we’ve got advertisers making 40X returns versus their investment. We had one advertiser who achieved as many clicks with $10K in blogads as the mother agency achieved with 1000 times bigger TV buy.

But I’m convinced there’s much more to online advertising than clicks and impressions.

So throughout it all, we’ve stuck with the old fashioned sponsorship model. Advertisers can figure out their effective CPC or CPA (cost-per-action). The reason we stick with sponsorship is that we believe that, to eventually produce top dollar for bloggers, advertisers will need to recognize and reward the incredible quality of their audiences. We’re not just talking about the demographics of the audiences — though most bloggers have great audience demos — but every publisher can spiel for hours about their prime demos.

We want people to focus on the quality of these audiences. If you’ve got a new idea or a new product or service, you want to sell it to mavens, the people who stand around at the coffee shop and explain things to their colleagues.

Just as advertisers figured out that all impressions and all clicks are not created equally, they are figuring out that all sales are not created equally. In a ten year view, it is much better to sell something to people who influence other people, who will drive 10 or 20 other sales, than to sell to asocial losers who only buy things because other people buy.

John Hawkins:: If somebody came to you and said, “Henry, I’m skeptical about advertising on blogs. How about naming at least one “big success” for me that an advertiser has had with blogads?

Henry Copeland:: I’ve heard some incredible stories, but these are the advertisers’ beans to spill.

We’ve added a number of testimonials recently in the right column ofhttp://www.blogads.com/advertiser_html: and should be adding more in the next couple of days. I should stress though that not everybody has a wonderful experience. Often the cause is bad creatively or a failure to understand the audience, but sometimes things just don’t work for no definable reason.

John Hawkins:: Are there any blogs that you read regularly?

Henry Copeland:: My blog reading isn’t what it used to be. Every couple of days, I read a few blogs on the left and right to keep up with the flavor of the discourse, then I check in with friends’ blogs once a week or so to keep up with their lives. But otherwise, I’m just completely buried by work.

John Hawkins:: Is there anything else you’d like to say or promote before we finish up?

Henry Copeland:: Two things: Thank you for taking the time to interview me. And thank you for belonging to the: blogads network.

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