Making the case for online advertising

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While explaining why, as of February 1st, his blog won’t be taking advertising, Andrew Sullivan wrote how “distracting and intrusive” online ads can be and “how online ads have created incentives for pageviews over quality content.”

Mike Masnick pushed back:

[I]t’s absolutely true that an awful lot of advertising sucks in exactly the manner described above. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be that way. There’s a growing recognition in the industry that intrusive and annoying advertising is not the way to go for exactly the reasons that Sullivan explains above. But as we’ve discussed, when you do advertising right, it’s simply good content itself that people want. That’s why a month from now, the most popular thing on Superbowl Sunday won’t be the football game, but the commercials. There are times that peopleseek out advertising and are happy to see it. And compelling ad/sponsorship campaigns need to be about that. 

Now, it’s reasonable to admit that many marketers haven’t full grasped this concept, and dragging them, kicking and screaming, into this new era is not something that Sullivan and his team wants to take on. And that’s a reasonable argument (and, as someone who’s spent way too much time trying to convince marketers of this thing, only to see them default back to silly, pointless, misleading ad metrics, I can completely respect such a decision). But, it seems wrong to slam “all advertising” into a single bucket, just because some (or even a lot of) advertising is done really poorly. 

Sullivan has had the benefit of exposure to a national audience via his relationships with established media companies such as The Atlantic and Newsweek. To think that MyNeighborhoodBlog.com or whatever can just hang out a shingle and expect readers to pony up twenty bucks (or $10,000 as one subscriber ((or is it donor?)) gave to Sullivan yesterday) is a fantasy. Oh sure, generic local blogger might be able to pull in a few shillings, but not enough to pay the bills. Certainly not enough to work 365 days a year, as both Sullivan and myself do.

No, to be a commercially successful blogger, as I am (in fact, I think I could make an argument for being one of the most commercially successful bloggers in the country — not most widely read, just commercially successful — one must resign themselves to being, at the end of the day, an ad salesman.

That is what I am. Blogger. Reporter. Publisher. Writer. AND — and this is the important part — ad salesman. 

Many of the ads you see on this site and most of those running on SaintPetersBlog during the busy seasons of the legislative session and the run-up to an election would not exist had I not forged a relationship with the advertisers.  They would not exist if this site did not provide a value to said advertisers.

The political online advertising market barely existed three years ago and what there was of it was and is still dominated by two or three websites, such as the SayfieReview.com.  The consulting, lobbying and public relations firms which advertise on this site were, for the most part, not advertising anywhere else before I beat a path to their doors. And it is that beating of a path which is the hardest aspect of my job.

Anyone can sit in their robe and blog. But to make it commercially successful, where it pays for the clothes and formula for your three-month old child, as SaintPetersBlog does for me, well, that’s an entirely different beast.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.