Why Blog Posts Matter

Why blog posts matter — 91% of the people who came to the permalink for yesterday’s post visited WordPress.com to see the new design. Online advertising is usually thrilled to get a 1-2% clickthrough rate. This is why I believe that online advertising as we know it is going to have to change dramatically in the next decade, beacuse the folks who matter are blocking it out, emotionally and technically. The shifting of money is also going to be the biggest threat to people media (blogs, etc).

20 thoughts on “Why Blog Posts Matter

  1. You’re absolutely right. Advertising is going to need to change to keep up with the times. Referrals from “trusted” sources are going to become more important than ever.

  2. This is the reason why services like ReviewMe and blog like TechCrunch is still standing. Online advertising $.50 CPM, blog spam $5/blog, trusted blog posts – priceless.

  3. Right, but how long until the folks who matter start (mentally, if not technically) blocking out blog posts because they’ve gotten so commercial?

  4. I agree with Chris, above, except I think it’s better to speak of “qualified” (or even “quality”) sources than “trusted”; I think the latter is a misleadingly emotional value judgement.

    Traditionally, advertising has been to a large extent a matter of quantity over quality, but that model doesn’t necessarily work online. I’ve no idea *how* it’s going to change, but I can read the writing on the (fire)wall. 🙂

  5. One thing that advertisers are going to have to do is start catering to the blogs they advertise on, and this needs to happen soon. Having ‘buzzword’ or similar advertising fails 90% of the time – many google ads that I see, for example, advertise blogging services and little else.

    Many people coming to blogs, however, are unlikely to click on advertisements. The major advertisers, be it eBay or Amazon, are so well known that many already have them saved in their Favorites, and would rather click there at leisure than when reading through blogs. This means that blog owners have to re-think too.

    The whole process isn’t going to happen overnight, but it is definitely well worth following – especially if some of the sites start asking for visitors not coming through a blog to give them a specific reference for who referred them, and then link that back to the advertisement.

  6. We’re already starting to see the downside of this though.

    Take Sony’s alliwantforxmasisapsp.com scandal. It was a blog that was professional and sly and led readers to believe that it was an average user who just wanted a PSP for Christmas. Instead, it was just a marketing campaign, one that may be illegal soon hopefully.

    So yes, while blog posts will become more important than straight ads, it will become harder to know who to trust as advertisers move into the blog posting market.

    I mean hell, there are people out there hired to surf forums, build up rep by actively participating in the forum, and all the while slyly promoting a product by posting reviews or “wow [product] is so cool!”.

    I miss the old days. 🙁

  7. Advertising as we know is not going to die. It happens that the people who read your blog are fans of wp (or, at least, of photomatt). They (we) are biased for things you make. It happens that is now easier to have personal influence to a lot of people, because we can read what you think or do easier, even living in the other side of the world.

    Ads will have to live with strong competitors: personal influence have better segmented audiences and more credibility. Ads marketres will want to pay to big influencers, although the power of these people lies (mainly) on the independece, so they will fear of these offers.
    (This is a great paper about it)

  8. I know a lot of people who stop visiting sites because the blog posts are filled with ads. What is also annoying is that there are only a few major affiliate advertising sites which most people use and so the monotony of adverts on different sites is also what lowers click through rates. Why should I click on the same ad ad I just clicked on while visiting another site.

  9. I think the 91% click-through had more to do with the targeted nature of your tie in to the Planet WordPress feeds that show up on every wordpress install (aside from those who have hacked them)the natural affinity your readers have for all things wordpressthe brevity of your post (you simply announced the design and provided a link to see it) andIt wasn’t an “ad” for a product in as much as it was a notice about changes to an existing “free” product.
    If Matt had of posted something like, “I just bought a PS3 for Christmas and I love it…” along with a affiliate link to amazon or something I highly doubt the same click-through rate would have surfaced. It might make a great experiment though Matt…

  10. The way advertising works best is for it to not be strict advertisement at all; personal suggestions coming from someone you have some level of trust or respect for without the usual push tactics associated with advertising as a whole. That is basically what we’re seeing a decent shift towards in the online realm anyway, a huge drift towards “social advertising” rather than “market advertising”.

    Though, as Darren said, the affinity WordPress users have for WordPress would’ve played a key role. However, that just further illustrates the point; if you can target your userbase effectively you’re definitely going to have a better success story to tell than the biggest publishing and advertising giants around.

    Anyway, the 91% clickthrough is a pretty cool figure. Congratulations.

  11. Exactly, there’s an artificial assumption being made that people would care about an advertisement the same way people care about taking a peek at a new design. Let’s face it, anyone who clicked that perma-link on their WP-Install probably came specifically just to see that new design.

  12. Eric’s comment particularly resonates with me… Some companies have already gotten wise to the weakness with direct advertising, and have chosen a more subtle route: payola.

    I write on a rather niche subject (perfume) but I’ve been offered payment for postive reviews, and an absurd amount of freebies for my “services” in mentioning certain products. It’s chilling, really. Some of my online fashion/beauty peers have written posts that leave a bad taste in my mouth, because I’m 99.9% certain they wrote certain obscenely positive articles because they got those products free. Which I wouldn’t know except for the fact that I got offered the same products myself. It’s almost like a pattern I can predict now: as soon as one offer rolls in, I know two weeks later I’ll be spotting glowing reviews all over. But their readers NEVER know what’s going on. Any full disclosure of this fact is so rare, as to the point of it being an exception rather than a rule. How long will it take the average reader to catch on? Because they will, eventually. My worry is this will put a black eye on bloggers especially.

    Matt, you are right that it’s a threat to people media, precisely because in the future, site owners are going to have to take a long hard look about how they’re going to balance their readership against the joys of payola – not just waning ad revenue or diminishing advertising “partner” opportunities.

    And some companies have gotten wise in reverse – by threating frivolous legal actions against site owners and/or bloggers whose sites bear content that says even a smidge negatively about their experiences with a given brand or product. They don’t seek to place advertising banners or the like with anyone, they just try to shut all the conversation down if it’s not going their way.

    It will be interesting to see what shakes out from the sheets as advertising stratagies shift. I want to hope it will turn out for the better for responsible site owners and bloggers, but I’m currently feeling rather cynical about it all. The PR and marketing firms are particularly catching up to what blogs are all about finally, and thus far, they are catching up with a vengeance. Some firms get more than a little testy if you mention you got stuff for free, and they really don’t want you to mention their firms by name – they want to astroturf permanently hidden behind the curtains.

    I’m not an Eeyore by nature, just very frustrated by what I see already happening right now.

  13. Good point in the original post and good comments above too. I guess with the aging of the internet, advertisers are realizing that many users are relaxed when they are browsing a blog compared to browsing a shopping site or seeing a site full of commercials as, learning from daily life, they are automatically viewing every commercial as “They want my money again.”

    Services like ReviewMe are the early steps advertisers can take, and are taking, to dive into the world of blogs to ensure that people who depend on blogs for relaxation or time-passing can also be tapped and lured into the products that the advertisers want to sell. Like Luis said above, advertising is not going to die. It will never die. It will simply change forms.

    Slowly, blogs will turn into a platform where the most common types of quality blogs may be narrowed down, generally, to three types, though many other types will co-exist. First type will be the one producing original content. Second type will be the one producing good content and also using advertising to generate revenue while also adding service for the readers. The third type will focus solely on advertising by revolving the content around the advertising, and thus will provide users looking for specific information or product a highly valuable, yet capitalized, information.

  14. I agree that online advertising will need to change in the next few years to keep up with the constantly changing attentions of online viewers. In the last 10 years we’ve seen ads go from being non-existant, to being 80% of a website, to launching countless pop-ups, and so many other tactics. Hopefully the next generation of online adverts will be better disguised and less of a nuisance.
    If only I was smart enough to think of this “next big thing” … 😛

  15. Advertising has made such an unpopular, annoying, connotation with people in general that people try to avoid them, by changing channels on television, and on the web, simply disregarding them. After all, they can be phony. On the other hand, when a “trusted” (unfradulent) person advertises something, people will look to that person, one reason being that that person is less likely to be a fraud.

  16. This is a fallacy. 91% of people clicked through because almost 100% of people who came to the permalink were interested in the topic.

    The permalink was the ad. Not the blog post itself. Comparison to traditional advertising would have been : x% of people who saw “New WP.com design” in their dashboard clicked on the link. And this figure must be much lower (yet still bigger than in traditional ad simply because people reading planet.wp are interested in anything serious about wp)

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