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Thinking About Ads on Searchblog

By - August 31, 2004

currency.jpgSo I have been noodling with the idea of putting ads on Searchblog. Why? Well, I spend a fair amount of time working on the site, and a little beer money would be not a bad thing. Also, it helps me understand a market in a much more personal way. And thirdly, I’m genuinely interested in how various ad systems work. I’ve taken a look at a lot of ad systems over the past few months, many of which I have also reviewed in my role as “band manager” for boingboing.net.

I’ve looked at Henry’s BlogAds, but find them too narrow – there’s no real market of search related companies there, and I don’t want to be in the business of building it up. Of course there’s AdSense, but I prefer to not take checks from Google while I write about them. Then there’s Kanoodle, which is getting some buzz lately. And the stealth MarketBanker, which I’ve found less than ideal to communicate with (they are in something of a quiet phase – no they are not going public, just…reworking some stuff, from what I hear). There are others, and if you loyal readers care to suggest from among them, or to comment on the choices I outlined above, I’m all ears.

Then there’s the idea of simply selling sponsorships one by one, which is what Boing Boing decided to do, at least to start. But the problem with that is I don’t get to learn what it’s like to work with the ad networks. So this is my lazyweb request: What do you think I should do?


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22 thoughts on “Thinking About Ads on Searchblog

  1. Doug Mehus says:

    There are also banner (image) ad networks. Plus, you’re forgetting the elephant in the room – Content Match from Yahoo! subsidiary Overture Services, Inc.

    Check out the likes of ValueClick, Fastclick, AOL subsidiary Advertising.com, Inc., Revenue Science, etc.

    Cheers,
    Doug

  2. David Orban says:

    If you are concerned taking Google’s money, then you should give it away in Charity, and explicitly state so, while you should not renounce the opportunity of getting a first hand feeling of managing an AdSense account. You are right in saying that the experience is valuable, and loosing that value from one of the most interesting players would cripple your effort.

  3. Nick Holmes says:

    Give Adsense a try; watch your earnings per click closely; see if you can figure out how they structure their payments; are they serving relevant ads? is it worth it? Then report back please. After seeing payments per click plummet and finding ads served were not closely relevant I decided Google ads were just clutter that was detracting from my site. So I switched them off. I’ll live without the $10 I earned.

  4. Hey man, you earned the readership, so you have the right to make some dough in the process. I, for one, would even pay an annual subscription fee for access to battellemedia.com.

  5. Scott Delap says:

    I would say that in some ways any advertiser you choose presents a conflict of interest. Today you may be writing about Google. However, tomorrow it could be something related to online advertising. It is the same way CNN reports on Time Warner. Your readers will notice if you run AdSense and slant positive coverage to them undeservedly. I would say as long as you believe you can be fair and unbias choose the option that fits your site best.

  6. Greg Linden says:

    Might consider affiliates programs (your favorite search-related books at Amazon or books related to your posts). That’s an unobnoxious form of advertising.

  7. Ralph says:

    I think you should reconsider Blogads. They have tremendous momentum right now. The range of ads goes beyond far political ads. I’ve seen lots of Internet service providers use their service.

  8. henry says:

    Give us a try John! It took us just 18 months to build a self-stoking critical mass of political bloggers — I promise we’ll be faster in your niche. :)

    Henry

  9. Mike says:

    I see no conflict of interest in you placing ads on your weblog.
    Using Google Adsense or is not necessarily an endorsement of G. I would check out Valueclick as well.
    This is a model blog. Take advantage of the popularity. I for one will take note of who is smart enough to advertise on your site.
    I recommend Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

  10. Honestly, I was wondering why you weren’t running ads already. And why not, try a few different things. Play with Google for one quarter, BlogAds for another. Your readers won’t mind – it’s in the name of science, or journalism, or some combination.

    And as a bonus (so you can get a quality microbrew instead of some watered-down mass market dreck), sell a sponsorship display ad in place of the Web 2.0 conference logo once the conference ends.

    As long as you don’t do the “John Battelle’s Searchblog, presented by Levitra” bit, it should be a fun trial, if not a success.

  11. Rob says:

    Try IntelliText by VibrantMedia (driven by Overture). We are making a decent amount of money from them. Our core audience does not seem to mind the contextual linking within our articles. Example – http://www.cbronline.com

    They also do SmartAds. The CPM rate for 468’s is 4x better than any other network i’ve ever spoken to.

    IndustryBrains may be another of interest, although i have no experience of them.

    Also Moreover may be an option if your traffic comes from sites using your XML feed. Took a call from them last week and they are pushing contextual linking within the RSS… something i’ve seen done at InfoWorld, for example.

  12. Andy Beal says:

    Let me know if you go the traditional route. I’d be interested in testing an ad.

  13. Adam Viener says:

    Run your own ads that benefit your customers. Check out related products and services you like and promote them with affiliate links that pay you commissions on the referred sales. Otherwise bite the bullet and run Adsense.

  14. As a dedicated (practically) daily reader of Search Blog, I’d say you could charge us for a premium version – $20 a month or so – and dispense with the whole problem of adverts for now. Once you’ve got enough subscribers and a revenue stream, revisit the advertising questions and hire someone to manage that side of the business so you end up with the right advertisers.

  15. John, it’s been many, many years since we’ve last chatted. You may recall that you visited me when I was the CEO at Presence Information Design in Old Town Pasadena; you were at Wired at that time. Your dad had introduced us. (Back then your dad was developing a disposable noninvasive glucose monitoring device and I had been the VP, Bizdev for a medical device & biotech factory automation systems integrator based in Orange County.) After Presence I went to Samsung/AST, Microsoft, Oracle and META; I’ve been based in China for the past several months focusing on ITO opportunities in China.

    Anyway, I’m looking at doing the same thing as you. One of the issues I struggle with is that I don’t have a firm idea how many people subscribe to my blog. Fortunately, I cross-post (I guess it’s “cross-post” and not “crosspost”) to an e-newsletter which I know has over 200 subscribers, most of them senior execs representing just about every major systems integrator (and many of the largest software vendors) in China; and, with very few exceptions, they’re personal contacts as well.

    So here’s one of my problems. 200+ subscribers by e-newsletter. Unknown number by aggregator. Big deal; not a lot of people. (I’ll be soon reaching many more through an AlwaysOn Network “Letter from China” column, but it’s Tony’s show, not mine.) But here’s the issue: These 200+ subscribers are PERSONAL contacts AND represent just about every software company of any significance in China. For U.S. systems integrators, software vendors and even end-users developing a China strategy, this is an INVALUABLE list. But if I use CPM or even CPI, so what: Beer money, indeed. Yet, reaching this list is like reaching the readers of Gentry magazine back in the Valley: You pay for reaching a highly selective list.

    However, what can I realistically charge? Think about this. What if a systems integrator in the States placed an ad looking for partners in China? And, for an additional fee, I could even help the U.S. SI (or ISV/CIO) create a short list from those firms which respond to their ad, saving them a lot of time, money and (most importantly) headaches.

    I’d like to get your take on this … and I’d like to hear from other Searchblog readers, too. Feel free to contact me directly at goldentriangle+searchblog(at)gmail(dot)com .

    BTW, John, do you remember my HOTT e-newsletter? As you may recall (and it was from way back in last ’93/early ’94), HOTT was the first online pub grappling with the whole notion of advertising. The LA Times, Voice of America, Marketing Computers and lots of other dailies and trades published features on HOTT. I can remember getting flamed because I had suggested advertorials!! My, how times have changed ….

  16. Aubrew says:

    Seems that it would be easier to remain unbiased by AdSense.

  17. I’m running a blog on nothing but Google, and I’m also using Google AdSense. And the Google search engine. And Gmail. I don’t see a conflict. In fact, using AdSense I have one more thing to blog about from first-hand experience. I would never refrain from negative criticism if it’s objective — unless Google’s ToS would forbid me to do so, and then I will explicitly state this (e.g. I may not say everything I want about Google Answers, and there was a time when Google AdSense also didn’t allow people using it to talk about it… which was a bad choice that has since been corrected).

  18. aaron wall says:

    I think you can try a combination of ideas. Its all in the name of learning and passing on better information anyway.

    I think you can sell a great site sponsor spot where the Web2.0 logo is right now…maybe even a few of them.

    You can do that to make some cash back and then try many of the other services such as AdSense or whatnot in your posts.

  19. ID:entity says:

    John I think you could probably get someone round to cut your grass & clean the car if you asked :)

    I actually think this is the best aspect of this blog – really open idea generation & discussion from some really forward thinking folks – which personally I think is far more valuable for you than evaluation of ad networks, well until the book is published anyway.

    Back to your request speciifcally, I still think you need to define the objective (e.g. beer money is nice but not essential.) If we know where the journey is going the route is easier to map…but then again, might also be less interesting.

    The Jury is still out on this for me.

    One question back……what are your plans for the blog one the book is published? I think the answer to this will probably provide the best insight into which direction to go.

  20. David Craig says:

    I would be interested to know how much money you could earn through this – I have a feeling it wouldnt be very much!

  21. Bill Janning says:

    Cbprosense is another very interesting revenue generating system.

    It is a contextual (content sensitive) ad network connected to an affiliate program. You get paid up to 75% in commission for every product sold. It works much like adsense.

    URL:
    http://www.cbprosense.net

  22. James says:

    I think you can try a combination of ideas and software ad apps. Its all in the name of learning and passing on better information anyway.