Bloggers: Don’t Bet on Display Ads

Oliver Deighton is Vice President of Marketing at VigLink.

There are all different kinds of blogs out there with all different kinds and quality of content, but one thing these blogs have in common is that display advertising won’t enhance them. But native advertising can.

There’s a simple truth about blogs: Readers rarely, if ever, come to one to be marketed to. Advertising runs counter to the raison d’etre of the blogosphere. Ads are an interruption, a betrayal of the natural flow individuals expect of a well-written, informative blog.

Yet blogging and revenue-generation don’t have to be at odds with each other. What many bloggers, online forums, product review sites and other “independent” sources of online content haven’t yet embraced is that the very thing people come for, credibility, is a trait that has economic value.

Native advertising — the ability to create an income stream that integrates organically into the user experience — takes advantage of that hard-won credibility without resorting to “tacked on” display advertising. Google’s paid search results are similar in effect. Looking and feeling like organic search results, these paid search results come across as credible, familiar and consistent. Moreover, Google relentlessly ties ad serving to ad quality, making the ads they do serve both relevant and effective.

Bloggers translate their particular brand of credibility into opportunity when they establish themselves as a go-to expert in a particular niche. Their authenticity compels readers interested in the same industry or topic to listen. In fact, a blog that documents a personal point of view or expounds from a position of authority is considered more trustworthy than almost any other form of Web-based content.

According to estimates, online purchases driven by content sites is growing more quickly than overall e-commerce. It’s becoming easier than ever for those who generate content, including bloggers and other independents, to turn their pages into profit through native advertising. Most bloggers have no idea how to incorporate native monetization into their sites. Yet every time they insert a link from their content to another site — especially a retail site — they establish an opportunity to produce revenue organically. Like a Google paid search result, these links meet stringent quality and relevancy criteria. They surpass the high bar of editorial integrity while also feeling familiar and consistent with the site’s intent.

If properly handled, independent content publishers can realize the benefits of native advertising without betraying reader trust. Today’s Web user, of course, knows what “marketing” looks like — they’ve been targeted by ads for years. When they encounter a site that appears to exist for the purpose of making money, they flee. This was one of the reasons Facebook was able to steal MySpace’s thunder. When MySpace began to look like one giant advertising billboard due to ad clutter, Facebook benefited because its perceived intent was simply to help friends connect with one another.

Whenever new forms of economic value emerge, those who are inherently positioned to take advantage benefit the most. Independent bloggers are the fortunate ones in this new era of democratic social media. By maintaining authenticity while also exploiting new technologies like automated link monetization, private content publishers have the unique opportunity to turn native monetization to their long-term advantage.

Image via Shutterstock

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