Blog monetization; how do we ALL win?

Jaffe has conducted an apparently successful, and very interesting, experiment on his podcast Across the Sound. Jaffe threw out the idea that if a company would give him an iPhone, he'd let them sponsor an episode of Across the Sound. Jaffe said he got an offer within an hour of the show going live, and has already bought his iPhone. The company that agreed to sponsor the episode has even gone in with Jaffe and issued a press release. Jaffe is now hinting that he wants to offer a month-long sponsorship, for a new laptop.

I think this is an interesting idea, and could be a new way of looking at blogger compensation. But the area that concerns me with this, and most forms of blog-monetization, is that while the blogger and company directly benefits, the reader doesn't. What does the average reader of Jaffe Juice or listener to Across the Sound get from Jaffe getting an iPhone? Nothing that I can see.

But should they? I'm not begrudging Jaffe getting an iPhone at all, in fact I think it's a stroke of genius, and I would bet most of his readers/listeners do as well. But I think if we can find a way to talk about blog monetization that benefits the readers as well, then we'll have a winner.

And I'm not sure that blog ads are the way to go. In some cases they can work (I like what Chris has done by running ads for Netflix and movie posters at Movie Marketing Madness), but in most cases it seems that ads are intrusive and don't enhance the reader's experience.

So I'm thinking that maybe content is the way to go. But not the Pay-Per-Post tit-for-tat model. What do you guys think about this idea:

Let's say Target has a blog (do they?) that they want to be profiled in the Company Blog Checkup series. They agree to give me a gift certificate for X amount of dollars (which is of course disclosed by me) if I will profile their blog in the Company Blog Checkup series. Fine, there's the direct benefit for me, and for Target.

So now we need to incorporate a benefit for the community of readers. Let's say that part of the deal with Target also includes that representatives from the blog agree to come here and respond to comments left by readers to the blog checkup post. And after a set amount of time, Target will pick the reader comment that they feel was the most constructive to them, and award that reader a gift certificate as well (which is again, disclosed upfront)!

This way, everyone benefits twice. One reader and myself both get a Target gift certificate. Target's blog gets exposure here. Target also gets a ton of great advice from the community and myself on how to improve its blogging efforts. And myself and the readers also benefit from the great comments making the post more interesting.

I think this is the way to go with blog monetization, so that all three parties benefit. This is just an example, I think the key is to find a way to incorporate a direct benefit to the readers as well.

Speaking of readers, what say you? What are your thoughts on blog-monetization? Does an example like the Target blog work for you, or are you just fine with Jaffe's iPhone deal? Or can you think of other examples that could directly benefit readers as well? I really think this is an interesting topic and that there's probably a way to make it a winning situation for everyone.



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posted by Mack Collier @ 12:35 PM,

29 Comments:

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Jim Kukral said...

I think you're exactly right. Check out my new publishing system coming soon at http://www.scratchback.com.

Sign up for a beta launch application.

Jim Kukral

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Roger Anderson said...

Mack,
This situation is highlighted by the fact that he used a high profile item to receive in stead of cash for the ad space or time. I am not saying that your point does not have merit but why is this any different than any other method of compensation that bloggers use - Google Ads, direct placements, and so on?

I think the objectivity line is crossed on an ad supported site when a pay-per-post is not declared. But sponsorship that is open and clearly not tied to the content seems to me to be fine.

Your suggestion that bloggers and/or sponsors that want to have a giveaway should benefit the audience is a good one. In a sense the blog that has ads is already making money off of the audience. Why not use the draw to give a little back and at the same time begin to bring sponsors into a meaningful dialog.

I have won too many contests to believe they are totally random but I hope some criteria other than "best suggestion" could be found. Perhaps a drawing from the 10 best.

Good post - very thought provoking. Thanks for the email even though you are in my RSS feed a-list.

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"This situation is highlighted by the fact that he used a high profile item to receive in stead of cash for the ad space or time. I am not saying that your point does not have merit but why is this any different than any other method of compensation that bloggers use - Google Ads, direct placements, and so on?"

I don't really see much different in the two. My point was that I don't think this model really works that well, because the reader is left out of the loop. I think the better alternative is to find a compensation plan that benefits 1 - The blogger. 2 - The company, and perhaps most importantly 3 - The reader.

But I think the sticking point is, it needs to benefit the reader but ALSO ENHANCE their experience. That is going to be very difficult to do, IMO. But if we can find a way to do it, it could change everything.

And the 'giveaway' in my post is just an example, and there's problems with that approach as well. What if you feel that you gave the best comment to Target, yet they chose to use Jim's comment and gave him the gift certificate. Now you are pissed. So there's still some bugs to work out.

I just think that so many bloggers are looking at the compensation issue as 'what can I get out of it?' I think if we switch our thinking to also considering if the monetization benefits the community as well, then we'll get smarter plans in place.

 
At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Lewis Green said...

Mack,

We are marketers. One of the tools we use is advertising. If we refuse to use the tool on our blogs or our podcasts but still recommend it to our clients, then I think we are being hypocritical. I have no problem with paid advertising as long as it is identified as an ad and we don't write about the product or service.

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"We are marketers. One of the tools we use is advertising. If we refuse to use the tool on our blogs or our podcasts but still recommend it to our clients, then I think we are being hypocritical. I have no problem with paid advertising as long as it is identified as an ad and we don't write about the product or service."

Lewis I'm thinking more in lines of how can we come up with a monetization plan that benefits the readers/community as much if not MORE, than it does the blogger and the company?

For example, I love Honda's cars. I have and will recommend them to anyone that asks, and some that don't. Now my question is, can we find a way to have Honda do some sort of sponsorship/monetization/whatever here at The Viral Garden that will directly benefit me, Honda, and perhaps most importantly, YOU as a reader of this blog. Is that even possible?

I don't know, but if we could find a way to directly benefit all three parties, then I think we've got something huge. I think the reason why so many other compensation ideas aren't very successful, is because the company and blogger are the only ones that really benefit. The readers are cut out almost completely.

But if we can find a way to incorporate the reader into the mix in a way that benefits them directly, and that ENHANCES their experience here, then we've got something huge.

And again, it might be that we can't come up with a way to do this. But I think if we could, then it could change everything about how we look at 'monetizing' blogs.

 
At 1:13 PM, Anonymous David Reich my 2 cents said...

I have mixed feeling on this subject, Mack.

I'm not blogging to make money from the blog, although I do consider it as a component of business-building for my p.r. agency. I didn't start blogging for that reason, and I am enjoying it a lot. But it is something that can lend me greater credibility or authority as a "published" writer on marketing issues.

I know some people have very strong feelings against making money from a blog. I feel that's each individual's personal choice. If I see a blogger's objectivity or honesty being compromised by sponsorship money, or by other freebies like Nikon cameras, etc., I simply will not read that blog anymore. Or if I do continue to read it, I will look at it with a jaundiced eye.

I don't know Joe Jaffe, although I hear he's a nice and smart guy. I think, personally, that he kinda sold out with the Nikon program. When I saw his post with pictures of his beautiful little boy. where he then said something like "I couldn't have taken these without my Nikon," I was dismayed by the blatant shilling. I could have taken similar pictures of my grandson with my Canon G-3. So I don't check Joe's blog too much anymore. His choice; my choice.

Make money off your blog if you want. But if you compromise your integrity too much, you'll lose readers. Just my 2 cents.

 
At 1:18 PM, Anonymous David Berkowitz said...

Mark, there are some great ideas here, but it's a heck of a lot of work. Marketers can't invest that much time and energy into every last sponsorship, especially if they're a major brand. They need some degree of efficiency.

So yes, here and there this is great for experimentation, but I don't think it'll be a lasting model. Blog ads, especially as part of a network buy, can scale much better.

Lastly, I don't see anything inherently wrong with the Jaffe sponsorship, even if I don't love the idea. What's the value to readers of, say, Target buying a $500 sponsorship of Joe's podcast vs. buying him an iPod? No real difference - Joe just gets paid in goods rather than cash, he's more public and transparent with how he brokers the deal, and he gives himself an added hassle when filling out his taxes next year.

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"What's the value to readers of, say, Target buying a $500 sponsorship of Joe's podcast vs. buying him an iPod? No real difference - Joe just gets paid in goods rather than cash"

Exactly. What remains constant is that the reader/listener really doesn't benefit.

This is why I think so many people are completely against attempting to monetizing blogs, because the reader gets nothing. And that increases the chance that they'll get honked off and leave. That's why I like the idea of shifting the monetization debate to see if there's a way to directly benefit the reader as well.

 
At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Cam Beck said...

I wrote about the sponsorship of GeekBrief.TV awhile back, and I stand by my initial assertion that they are doing it exactly right.

The sponsorships are quickly done, plainly and honestly articulated as sponsorships, non-intrusive, and relevant to the audience.

http://www.chaosscenario.com/main/2006/10/geekbrieftv.html

If it meets that criteria, then I would argue it DOES benefit the audience. That is, they are made aware of a product or service that they are likely to be interested in using, and without the sponsorship may not even know exists.

Whether ATS did it in exactly the right way, I cannot say, as I don't know how Jaffe does his sponsorships.

 
At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Pete said...

Man, great idea Mack. Reminds me of how the proceeds from Age of Conversation will go to charity...

I think the traditional line of reason goes something like this. You publish content and readers find it valuable. Advertisers pay you to be associated with quality content. You have incentives and are financially able to produce better content for readers (e.g. you could use ad proceeds to pay for a trip to blog about Cannes). Some readers may also actually pay attention to the ads and learn about a new product or service category.

Thus, readers benefit.

As for a new model, sounds like you're going in the direction of "reader blogshares" or something. But an analogy exists there, too - subscriptions.

How about this - let's call it an "age of conversation" approach. Take the Jaffe route of product placement. After you've blogged about it (and disclosed the relationship), auction it off on eBay. Donate the proceeds to a charity that your readers select through voting. Keep a small part of proceeds to cover listing and final value fees. Creates overhead but this is one way to help a lot of people win.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"As for a new model, sounds like you're going in the direction of "reader blogshares" or something. But an analogy exists there, too - subscriptions.

How about this - let's call it an "age of conversation" approach. Take the Jaffe route of product placement. After you've blogged about it (and disclosed the relationship), auction it off on eBay. Donate the proceeds to a charity that your readers select through voting. Keep a small part of proceeds to cover listing and final value fees. Creates overhead but this is one way to help a lot of people win."

Pete I like your thinking because I was already thinking along these lines. What if we we did a monthly sponsorship, each month finding a way directly benefit me, as well as the readers.

Then 6 months from now, Toshiba steps up and says they want to sponsor The Viral Garden for January. Myself and the Garden's readers decide that instead of giving us anything, that Toshiba would donate 4 laptops to a middle school. Or Nettwerk sponsors The Viral Garden for a month with ads promoting Avril Lavigne's new album, and in exchange, they donate $1,000 to War Child, a charity that assists children around the world that have been affected by war in their regions.

I think there's a ton of possibilities, and a fellow blogger emailed me with a great point, saying that we need to explore monetizing our blogs if for no other reason than to change the perception of the value of the content that we are creating.

I think when you consider that the readers help create whatever value our content has, that it's only fair to include them in on the compensation.

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Paul McEnany said...

Man, I have a hard time complaining too much about this one. What if there was only 600 bucks for the sponsorship? How much would Jaffe have to give up to contribute money back to his readers?

I don't read blogs with some expectation of gaining physical things, I do it because I'm constantly learning new stuff and hearing differing opinions. I would hope that those writers get theirs as much as possible, because I guarantee you, they're worth more than their getting paid.

 
At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Drew McLellan said...

Mack,

As always -- an interesting discussion.

I think of every blog as an exchange of goods.

We bloggers offer up content of value. Readers "buy" that content with their attendance, comments, impact on rankings etc.

For some bloggers...that's the pay off they want. They want the interaction and the opportunity to turn a reader into a potential customer. That's the currency they seek.

For other bloggers...they want the rankings to attract advertisers/sponsors. That's their currency.

I think we're all in agreement that what Jaffe did is no different than selling the sponsorship for $600. (except with more style and buzz potential).

You...as you always do, are looking to take this up a level. Where the blogger shares the spoils. A noble and generous idea. And one, I think that the first group of bloggers will be more drawn to. They see the payoff in a bigger picture way than just selling an ad. So they are more invested in not only attracting a community but retaining that community.

In some ways...it's viral product placement in a 3-D way. Not only do I see the can of Coke in your blog...but I might get one in the mail!

I know plenty of bloggers who get a free book from a publisher/author and a few books to give away. Hardly a way to feed your family, but the same concept.

Drew

 
At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Nathan Snell said...

@Lewis - That is a tool used. That doesn't mean it's the most effective tool or method of use.

@Mack - I think on the one hand it's a difficult subject, on the other I agree with you- clear as day. For those bloggers actively seeking to join or create a community, I would agree that a priority aught to also be to involve and/or benefit that community.

I think the examples you described are fantastic. I am curious, though as to whether you're thinking to benefit the readers directly, or a community directly.

Benefiting a community, you could do something like have a sports company or team sponsor the blog, but their sponsorship may be something like supporting a local little league team.

Benefiting the readers, given the same example as above for a sports company sponsoring the blog, that sports company could pay for tickets to X amount of readers favorite hockey game.

I think there was also one thing you touched on that should perhaps receive more light- bringing those companies into the conversation, too (Like your Target example). This provides an additional benefit to both the company and the readers, and perhaps a long term benefit to the company overall.

Just my .02 from some quick thought.

 
At 10:53 PM, Blogger Gavin Heaton said...

Thrilling discussion! I guess it depends ... at some point a blogger becomes more than an individual/professional with a point of view and becomes a publisher or a pundit.

This comes down to blog's reason for being ... and of course this can change and evolve over time. When we start we may do so for purely personal or purely mercenary reasons. But as the community and readership evolves, so do we ...

Perhaps this is simply a shift in Jaffe's raison detre?

 
At 7:56 AM, Blogger Joseph said...

GREAT CONVERSATION ALL ROUND

@david reich - the photo of my son was done purposely to piss off a very specific troll. It was 100% meant to provoke i.e. ordinarily I would never have done it. I was kind of putting myself in an average consumer's shoes, who at the end of the day, are the real audience here...not a bunch of echo-chambering, naval-gazing marketing bloggers :)

@gavin heaton - not at all. I've consistently explored new sponsorship models, using my 2 assets: Across the Sound and Jaffe Juice as guinea pigs along the way. ATS has given me the most flexibility. I find blogs to be pretty one-dimensional in terms of creative possibilities, although Mack seems to have done well here.

My only motivation is to play my part in helping marketers realize (first hand) that there is inherent value in sponsoring/aligning with blogs, podcasts etc.

@Mack - on my blog you wrote, "...the readers/listeners feel that they are being taken for granted, as if the blogger/podcaster is exploiting them by cashing in. Whether that is accurate or not can be debated, but I think if we can find a way so that ALL three parties benefit DIRECTLY from such a move, then we'll have a winner."

I think this is absolutely worth debating. Perhaps an Across the Sound episode when Chip comes on the show?

Fundamentally, the issue is this: are readers of any long-standing blog not getting enough value in the form of free content? Notwithstanding Jaffe Juice readers are marketing-savvy/sophisticated (and therefore should be acutely aware of the implicit value exchange), I'm not sure it is even remotely comprehensible that a blogger should be begrudged the ability to benefit monetarily or otherwise from their blog.

It's downright laughable to think anything else to be honest.

Why are banners, buttons and text links acceptable, but a creative, customized and spontaneous program is not?

I completely agree with you that a win-win-win solution is the ultimate goal, but surely this is happening in the form of regular, free content?

Like the Nikon D80 campaign, I am comparing this to the norm/the status quo...and I think it's a whole lot better than the existing methodology. Could it better? Sure. That's why I call it an experiment. Am I going to listen to your suggestions and my readers? OF COURSE I AM :)

 
At 9:35 AM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

Nathan I could see it going either way. Like set up a monthly sponsorship, and every 3rd month, have myself and the readers go in together and donate all the compensation to an offline community, or school, or charity, or whatever. And you're exactly right, this is something that progressive companies would WANT to be a part of.

Gavin you said this: "This comes down to blog's reason for being ... and of course this can change and evolve over time. When we start we may do so for purely personal or purely mercenary reasons. But as the community and readership evolves, so do we ..."

Let me be clear that I am NOT looking for a way to monetize The Viral Garden. I am not closed to the possibility, but this is about me wanting to get the larger debate started about how we deal with compensation and monetization at our blogs. To me, simply slapping a couple of ads on our blogs doesn't really help anyone. I don't think the bloggers make that much (unless they have massive traffic numbers), it intrudes on the reader's experience, and probably doesn't help the sponsor that much either.

I think if we can shift our thinking to looking at ways of monetizing blogs that has benefits to the readers BAKED IN, then that changes everything, IMO. That way, everyone wins.

Finally, Jaffe adds: "Fundamentally, the issue is this: are readers of any long-standing blog not getting enough value in the form of free content? Notwithstanding Jaffe Juice readers are marketing-savvy/sophisticated (and therefore should be acutely aware of the implicit value exchange), I'm not sure it is even remotely comprehensible that a blogger should be begrudged the ability to benefit monetarily or otherwise from their blog.

It's downright laughable to think anything else to be honest."

I agree that bloggers should be allowed to monetize their blogs if they choose. But at the same time, I think you HAVE to include readers into the equation. Look at this post, I think this is an EXCELLENT post. Is the quality of this post mainly due to my writing, or the comments that readers have contributed in response? I'd definitely go with the comments. This is value that the readers have created. I think they should be compensated for creating that value, if a blogger is monetizing their blog.

"I completely agree with you that a win-win-win solution is the ultimate goal, but surely this is happening in the form of regular, free content?"

Which brings up another interesting point, which I think Pete touched on somewhat: Should this content BE free? Think of how companies are benefiting from the free content they are getting to read from bloggers and our readers. I've given away thousands of dollars of free advice in my Company Blog Checkup series. Granted, I have also gotten job leads from those posts, but I still think it's worth discussing.

 
At 1:36 PM, Anonymous CK said...

Re Mack's "Which brings up another interesting point, which I think Pete touched on somewhat: Should this content BE free?"

Why yes...haven't you heard it's The "Share" Economy? I actually penned a chapter on it for this rockin’ new book that’s all the rage being it’s penned by over 100 authors.

Net/net: if you give value you'll get value. That's ALWAYS how it's been, that's always how it will be. I can't even fathom holding the discussion on gated content. All our progress goes out the window and behind gated walls? Oy. No, Ick. (and a few expletives, too).

While I won't be monetizing my blog, I don't mind if others do. If they cross over lines, then I drop 'em; no worries. The value of the sphere is in the give and take of opinions/practices/ideas. And all the amazing relationships you make. I am so overjoyed that I get to learn, debate, grow through these convos and meet great colleagues and friends that I don't need anything more. I get enough value. No…I get MORE value than I could have imagined when I joined Typepad little over a year ago. Like, why be greedy when we get so much?

So…I don't need a Target Gift Certificate (I'd just raffle it off to the community over at my blog anyhow ;-). I don't need an incentive to comment. And I certainly don't need commenters that only do so to get a prize (that's not authentic...and not at all advancing).

BRPs (blogger relations programs, like Nikon) and Monetizing blogs are two different subjects—and issues. And while I love your ideas on sponsorships with value, it's a heck of a lot of logistics. My issue is with BRPs that only give a certain amount of bloggers value and not the entire community. Insofar as BRP examples with value: Nikon hasn’t done it, Sci-Fi channel has and CNN/You Tube is sorta doing it.

But back to monetizing blogs: do I have an issue with Jaffe blatantly asking for an iPhone? No. Why? Because it’s authentically Jaffe to push those buttons and his way of pushing the medium forward. Would I do that? No way. Why? Because I like creating fun programs and pushing for better practices—that’s my way of pushing the medium forward. It’s just what works for me. And the iPhone deal works for him. But in both cases it’s the BLOGGERS working out their own models. In the BRP cases it’s COMPANIES coming into this space to influence the bloggers and many need to do it with far better care. That was and is my deal on that one.

Now, go on Across The Sound and have fun talkin' it with Jaffe (he's a great one to do a podcast with).

Disclaimer: CK in fact monetizes her blog and ALL you bloggers. I take all the stuff you teach me and I use it in my work…and to some mighty fine success, mind you. I only hope that you do the same with the content contributions that I make. If not, I’ll keep working to produce better content. And regarding all the friendships I make? Well, I just can't place a monetary value on those...but it would be a really, really big number.

 
At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Dustin Jacobsen said...

I take a slightly different perspective.

I'm a big fan of NPR.
Do they have advertising? No.
Do they have sponsorship? Yes.
Do they have 2 weeks a year where they focus on fund raising? Yes.

In return, listeners get good, quality content with no traditional advertising (I admit I'm biased because I worked for them in college).

The NPR website has more traditional banner ads which are tagged with Support for NPR is provided by...

I think this boils down to the simple concept of transparency.

Jaffe has been forthright about the Nikon program as well as the Upstage project. He has the right to decline any product evaluations that are sent his way, and I'm sure he has declined some.

If audiences don't find content worthwhile, I think the system is fairly self-managing and users will opt out.

As David from AdPulp points out, some bloggers are making bank.

I don't mind the sponsorship because I realize that it subsidizes the content creation that I would otherwise have to pay for in some other way.

Do I care? Heck no, because I am getting great content.

The experimentation continues and we all learn.

 
At 2:12 PM, Anonymous CK said...

To see what (marketing bloggers) value about this medium...and the blogs they publish and read, here's a goodie:

http://www.ck-blog.com/cks_blog/2006/11/oh_marketers_th.html

(no one said goods or money)

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

First, you guys rule. This is why I am saying that readers need to share in any compensation, because as we see in these comments, you guys are helping to create the content that's so valuable.

Now having said that, I am NOT saying that all bloggers should be directly monetizing their blogs. My point was that if we DO, let's do it in a smarter and more efficient way that brings the community into the loop. I think when we look at compensation from the viewpoint of 'how does this benefit the reader as well as it does me?', then the rules change. The compensation also creates more value for EVERYONE, and I think it will lead to even MORE compensation.

Which in my mind, leads to a ton of additional possibilities. Instead of compensating the blogger and community, a company could fund a social-media curriculum at a high school. Or fund a speaking tour that lets bloggers speak to schools about the importance of social-media.

Honestly, the ability to get to the point where we can GIVE BACK is what excites me. I was completely honored to be involved with The Age of Conversation, but even more than helping to create a body of work that would help marketers enter the age of conversation, I was thrilled at the possibility of helping children around the world through donations to Variety. I could see blog sponsorships reaching that point as well.

As I said the possibilities are endless, and I think we owe it to ourselves just to see what is out there. And while I don't agree completely with how Jaffe is conducting his experiment, I totally support his idea of tinkering and seeing what is out there.

 
At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Lewis Green said...

Mack,

If the product being advertised is a good one, then those readers in the market for that product get value from it.

I hear what you are saying, but blogging to be valuable does not have to be a not-for-profit experience for the blogger. As Drew said: readers come to us or don't because of our content. That is the value they receive.

Paid advertising is also good value, if it meets a reader's wants or needs, and the value they receive is within the ad. Your testimonial for Honda automobiles is the value I receive, because I trust your judgment. I would be personally insulted if you offered to monetize my trust in that judgment.

If I ran advertising and wanted to donate some of that money to a charity, it doesn't serve me well to blog about that. Doing so is more self-serving than running the ad. And I am not about to pay my readers, which I find insulting to both my work and their attention to that work.

We are talking personal choice, not values and ethics in this particular example of Jaffe wanting an iPod. I just don't see the problem or why readers or listeners should expect or want to receive any more value than the content of the iPod ad. Or why we should expect that to occur.

My job, as an ethical and values-based business person is to offer value. I do that for my regular readers by offering them content they are interested in. I don't advertise, but if I did I would not try to legitimize it by sharing some of the revenue with my readers. I would, however, not advertise anything that I would not purchase or use myself.

As always, Mack, great post and conversation started. You're a hell of a blogger.

 
At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Bryan Person, Bryper.com said...

I don't have a problem with what Jaffe did, because he was very explicit about the terms and conditions. Nothing under the table. Yes, he's using the power of his podcast to get a nice toy, but well?

In the interest of full disclosure, CustomScoop, which bought the iPod for Jaffe in exchange for sponsorship, also sponsors my New Comm Road Road podcast. Note that CustomScoop has not yet offered to buy me a phone :)

At the end of the day, I think this helps keep Jaffe on the cutting of edge of the latest tool that's already captivated hundreds of thousands of people across the country. It's why we listen to his podcast in the first place.

 
At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Dave Nyman said...

I have to say I stopped listening to Joe's podcast several months ago, and look at his blog seldom. I did catch a bit of the Nikon debacle, where I think Joe lost a lot of credibility (as did their agency MWW in my view). I did notice that he is now referring to the camera he received as a "loaner" rather than the "freebie" he was originally crowing about.

I think this latest acquisitive episode is just plain grubby. He seems desperate to monetize the eyeballs/ ears reading or listening to his work. Its funny, he was blatantly writing about wanting a new computer a while ago and obviously no one took the bait. I am just voting with my ears and not listening to him any more.

 
At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Sean Howard said...

Wow Mack,

What an amazing conversation.

There are two points you made that I'd like to pull forward. Paraphrasing as there are SO many awesome comments to go back and dig through to find them.

1: that you want to give back
2: that readers create equal, if not more, value than the blogger

The art of creating conversations is hard learned. Not everyone can do it, I'm finding. And I struggle with this idea of value creation as a result.

The question is not whether Jaffe's promotion is right or not, is it? If I'm following you, it's about how we, as publishers, sleep at night when we monetize something that is entirely dependent on the contributions and attention of our readership/community.

Congrats on your desire to present a model that gives back. Will everyone follow? Probably not. Will the majority follow? Likely not. But some will. And many will benefit from this new direction.

Keep pushing, Mack.

 
At 4:36 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"If I'm following you, it's about how we, as publishers, sleep at night when we monetize something that is entirely dependent on the contributions and attention of our readership/community."

Exactly. IF we want to monetize our blogs, how can we do so without thinking about ways that we can make sure that our readers benefit?

And something else is that I think that many people think that if a company sponsors a blog/podcast, that the blogger/podcaster has 'sold-out' or that they are going to change their behavior based on the sponsorship.

How many times have I blogged about Nettwerk? Too many to count because I believe strongly in what Terry McBride is doing to change how music is distributed. What if Nettwerk sponsored The Viral Garden for a month, and in exchange made a donation to War Child, and also gave me 50 CDs/album downloads to give away?

My point is, I think there's enough smart people out there that we can put our heads together and find a better compensation model, one that benefits the publisher (Armano says we need a better word than 'blogger'), the company, and the readers. And IF we can do this, I think the companies will see that they are getting better value from their sponsorship, which will lead to more compensation, which leads to more possibilities.

And honestly, this is exactly why I've never seriously considered trying to directly monetizing The Viral Garden, because the standard way of slapping a few ads on the sidebar doesn't really benefit anyone. IF we could come up with a better model that offered benefit as WELL as VALUE to EVERYONE, then I might consider attempting to monetize my blog.

But again, I think it has to make sense for everyone, if we do it. Good news is I think we have enough smart people that we can come up with a winning system. I think it starts with shifting our thinking from what can WE as blogger/publishers get out of it, and instead considering how EVERYONE, including our loyal readers, can get value.

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Toad said...

Great conversation.

Mack: I'll throw this one at you (and the rest of you):

You know how there are some guys who can wear a straw fedora (of the sort featured in the NY Times Style section yesterday) and look really cool and the rest of us would look totally ridiculous?

Well, Jaffe can go on his podcast and ask for an iPhone and his audience is kind of unfazed by it: that's who Joe is and it's sort of in keeping with his persona.

If CK pulled the same stunt, you'd be left scratching your head- it would seem so unlike her.

What I'm saying is that blogs- and bloggers- have distinct personalities. And what seems crass on one blog may seem like SOP on another.

If you can monetize your blog- however you do it- without compromising your autonomy or the appearance of autonomy- then more power to you. That's why I don't like programs like Nikon's Great Camera Giveaway: they turn the blogger him or herself into the advertising vehicle rather than the blog.

 
At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Ted Green said...

Mack,

Firstly, I appreciate your thoughts and concerns relative your readers/contributors. It's nice to see a blogger who realizes that part of the value and attraction of his/her blog is the contribution of the readers. I would agree with this assumption.

Secondly, remember however, this is America...land of the free (marketers). I have NO problem with you selling advertising to support your blog. If by doing so you can continue to share your valuable expertise which is helpful to me, then I say GREAT! My payoff is continued exposure to your fine content and ideas. This is a well tested model in our country...remember television? magazines? radio?

I don't need your money...I need greater personal success via your ideas...this is your currency and how you pay me. While reader's comments can help illuminate subjects...I'm not really coming here for their comments - it is your expertise that pulls me here...the rest is icing.

Ted Green
The Stratecon Group
http://www.stratecongroup.com

 
At 2:24 PM, Anonymous FauxClaud said...

Oh I am late in the game here, but this WAS a great post and I will also say that the comments make it as well. I love the ideal of being concerned about the whole ethical considerations of it all.
I'm not a new blogger, but I have yet to put one ad on my original blog, nor do i think I ever will ( though when I see Darren's check photos I am tempted..plus I am so sick of being working poor), but I have to know all this stuff now and it is very interesting indeedie.
There are ways that it can all work out...blogger retains ethical transparency, marketers information is released into the blogosphere, and the readers get relevant content.

 

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