August 21st, 2006

Advice to Blog Media: Get Better Metrics!

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A debate has erupted over the definition of blogs and the value of blog “influentials” as drivers of advertising CPM rates, which is so Old Media in the particulars it’s really quite astonishing. Scoble challenges Windows Live Spaces’ definition of a blog and then plants this lightening rod:

What does Microsoft do when it says “we have the most blogs?” Or, when it says really ANYTHING about its Internet services?

It takes them to advertisers and says “pony up, we know you paid MySpace ‘XXX’ and we have the most now, so we want ‘XXX+y’.” See, the little game we’re all playing in this Web 2.0 world is advertising.

The other little dirty secret of advertising? Not all readers are the same. Unfortunately if you’re an A List blogger it’s egotistical (and elitist) to point that out. Since Dare pulled out the ad hominem card already might as well slap this elephant in the ass and make it sing!

Quick. Is Jeff Jarvis worth more or less to an advertiser than this guy? Or this? Or this?

Donna Bogatin wisely drills down on the issue of metrics:

Scoble may have pulled off the covers of Windows Live Spaces metrics, but, at the same time, puts forth advertising metrics related assertions about Google, MSN, Federated Media…that may need to be “audited” as well.

Donna proceeds to quote some available audience metrics from MSN and Federated Media, but it’s all Old Media-style demographics.

Regardless of whether Scoble is right about the definition of a blog, I do think he pointed to the elephant in the room, and what blows my mind is that it’s such a qualitative elephant — is Windows Live Spaces more “valuable” to advertisers if it’s defined as a “blogging” service? Are influential bloggers of higher “perceived” value to advertisers?

Is this 1.0 all over again? Where are the ROI metrics? Do bloggers vs. non-bloggers (if such a distinction exists) drive higher clickthrough rates? Do A-List bloggers drive higher clickthrough rates? If it’s about “branding” and not direct response, then what are the metrics? Are brands that are advertised on blogs or A-List blogs seeing a bump in brand perception metrics? Are they more likely to be discussed on other blogs? Do they SELL MORE STUFF?

For decades, Old Media has been selling the value of media and audience based on smoke-and-mirrors perceptions rather than any quantifiable ROI metrics. Search marketing, which actually has some workable ROI metrics, gave a good kick in the head to that old model, but apparently it’s still alive and kicking.

So my advice to the emerging blog media moguls — get better metrics! If it’s all about influence and buzz, then find a way to quantify it. Companies like Nielsen Buzzmetrics are trying to inject some metrics into this space — it’s not like people aren’t working on this.

But whatever you do, please don’t run back into the squishy quicksand of Old Media value propositions.

  • I think part of the problem is advertisers also. They get stuck in a mode where they prefer to advertise on high traffic / A-List blogs even when you can prove that the audience reads more than just A-List blogs. I agree that the blog media moguls have to pitch a more convincing (story with analytical rigor) AND unified message to advertisers. It will take time to change the advertiser mentality.

  • Jeff,

    I love "meme-starting" -- more tangible than the fuzzy notion of "influence." That said, cracking the code on quantifying influence is a holy grail for blog media. This has a long history, from Roper's old civic activities definition to Gladwell's Tipping Point (where he claimed that his four categories of influencers couldn't be identified through demographics) -- effort was put in during the first boom to figure this out. One could argue that blogs are tangible records of Influence -- but, indeed, it's all about figuring out the metrics.

    Let's say it again: IT'S ALL ABOUT THE METRICS.

  • Right, you are! I've been pushing for metrics as a first step in a citizens' media (call it what you will) trade association and in an open ad marketplace for whatever we call this. the starting point has to be metrics -- and not just old metrics, but the new things we can measure, like "influence" or "meme-starting", eh?

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