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Blogs, Advertising, and the Stranger on the Bus

Blogs, Advertising, and the Stranger on the Bus
May, 2005
by John Waiveris,

"It doesn't matter whether you're shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate." - Business week Cover Story - Blogs Will Change Your Business - May 2nd, 2005

Have you heard about blogs yet? Just kidding, they're just the latest craze on the Internet. They played a role in the last presidential election and just this month, Newsweek is publishing a great article as their cover story (May 2nd).

"The divide between the publishers and the public is collapsing. This turns mass media upside down. It creates media of the masses." - Business week Cover Story - Blogs Will Change Your Business - May 2nd, 2005

In case you are wondering, blogs are just personal journals published every couple of days on various websites on the public Internet. They allow people to express themselves quickly and easily and come complete with photos and dodgy spelling. Unlike a fad like flying toaster screensavers, this is the start of a revolution that will flip advertising and mass media upside down.

"Television is not vulgar because people are vulgar; it is vulgar because people are similar in their prurient interests and sharply differentiated in their civilized concerns." - George Gilder - Life After Television - page 15


The top down media, a handful of stations broadcasting to many people, is about to change. It used to be very expensive to produce and distribute content. Television and Radio executives worked as gatekeepers to sell ads while running diluted content that's less offensive to most rather than more interesting to few.

Why change anything? People don't inherently want Jerry Springer or Reality TV - they want something that interests them. Likewise, the music that reaches us on the airwaves is lowest common denominator too.

"TV defies the most obvious fact about its customers - their prodigal and efflorescent diversity. People perform scores of thousands of different jobs; pursue multifarious hobbies; read hundreds of thousands of different publications. TV ignores the reality that people are not inherently couch potatoes; given a chance, they talk back and interact." - George Gilder - Life After Television - page 15

Now, the cost of publishing has dropped to almost nothing. We can download music, read news, and publish articles for free. Instead of 5 (or 500) channels on TV - there are 8 trillion web pages to access (Google May 1st, 2005). More importantly, we're changing from a nation of consumers to a nation of producers.

"There are some 9 million blogs out there, with 40,000 new ones popping up each day. Some discuss poetry, others constitutional law. And, yes, many are plain silly. "Mommy tells me it may rain today. Oh Yucky Dee Doo," reads one April Posting." - - Business week Cover Story - Blogs Will Change Your Business - May 2nd, 2005


Blogs are really just the first indication of a media revolution. It shows how excited people are to project their own ideas and be heard. Ironically, most blogs will never be read. We all make the mistake of talking more than we listen. It just makes sense that most people will never get that 15 seconds of fame. On the other hand, the whole concept doesn't make sense anymore. Content (and public attention) will fragment according to various interests and online communities will form to support them.

"All of these developments converge in one key fact of life, and death, for telecommunications in the 1990s. Television and telephone systems - optimized for a world in which spectrum or bandwidth was scarce - are utterly unsuited for a world in which bandwidth is abundant." - George Gilder - Life After Television - page 17


If content changes, what happens to advertising? The old media had three models: directories like the phone book, editorial reviews like trade magazines, and "creative ads" like commercials during Tv shows.

Google seems to have the answer. They've already taken over as one of the best online directories (search engine). They sell advertising tied to webpage content and their new email service, GMail, automatically chooses ads based on the content IN your personal email.

Other organizations are going to struggle and lose the battle. The music recording industry is busy chasing down college kids that share mp3 files. They used to give music to radio stations in hopes of selling albums. Rather than fighting the change, perhaps they should give away mp3s to sell merchandise and concert tickets?

"one might well question the morality of going harder on those who trade files than on those who negligently cut short the lives of fellow citizens." - TheRegister.co.uk


Last, there will be new structures for establishing credibility. Online communities rate their members. Ebay relies on buyers and sellers leaving feedback about transactions. The old media left little chance for reviews as most of us had no way to communicate with each other.

An interesting thing about blogs is they are usually anonymous. There is no reason to lie, so they are intimate and honest. On the other hand, there is no reason to tell the truth, so there is almost no way to estiblish credibility.

"There's little to stop companies from quietly buying bloggers' support, or even starting unbranded blogs of their own to promote their products -- or to tar the competition. This raises all kinds of questions about the ever-shrinking wall between advertising and editorial. " - Business week Cover Story - Blogs Will Change Your Business - May 2nd, 2005

Blogs are the wave of the future. If you haven't experienced them yet, try searching for "blog" or "online community" and one of your favorite hobbies. You might be surprised at the amount of communication going on outside of the mass media.
John Waiveris writes about online marketing for Invisible Gold, LLC. For more information call (860) 285-0172 or visit www.invisiblegold.com - your Website should be Easy to Edit