Advertising

Conversational Advertising

Somewhere during the struggle to reconcile the need to bring in revenue, and maintaining the “purity” of the medium, some bright spark thought she’d ad comments to ads. This idea grew a little, and we eventually had “story ads”. Neither of these attempts to take advertising into the conversational space is particularly groundbreaking. Its a painfully obvious step toward breaking out of interruption advertising and truly engaging the reader, but it is necessary.

My friend kpaul recently got a nice write up from Steve Outing over at Poynter about his efforts in this field at the Muncie Free Press

Mallasch, who describes his strategy for the site as coming from the “Craig Newmark school of business” (a reference to Craigslist’s founder), says he’s had some success recently selling “advertorials” along with banner ads — “basically, a story page labeled as an ad where customers or potential customers can comment.”

And he seems to be doing a little better than I. We played with this over at Threadwatch a while back (I ran that site untill Performancing for those that didn’t know) and although it was fun, and personally I felt, and still feel it has promise, didn’t have a lot of success with it.

Inherent Problems

The biggest problem with running story ads is that as a group, advertisers are a lazy bunch, they want the world, and expect it for little or no effort on their part.

That could be a fault of ours, of mine, us the bloggers, who’d like to show ads that engage our readers, keep our content relevant and fresh and STILL bring in the $$$’s.

Unfortunately we’re a lazy bunch too. We don’t appear to be taking steps to change the advertisers opinion, to coax them over their fears of (omg!) the prospect of public criticism but like the advertisers, we still expect it to work, and at least for my part, are dissapointed with the results.

Solutions?

Im not sure. It really is a tough one for both advertiser and blogger, neither has the luxury of an effortless success, both risk public criticism and it’s a hard balance to strike with regular readers.

I don’t have an answer, but im all ears if anyone would care to offer one.

Some random thoughts I’ve had on this in the time its taken me to get to this sentence:

  • Could advertisers be bloggers? Guest bloggers?
  • Could the lure of the giveaway overcome the fear of a “bad comment” and keep readers relatively positve? // Do we want that?
  • If not story ads, how else can we engage the reader, without overstepping editorial bounds?
  • Perhaps we need to push editorial bounds, no pain, no gain

Interesting challenge isn’t it?

Author: nickw

7 thoughts on “Conversational Advertising

  1. sometimes people learn a lot more from how a business owner handles a complaint moreso than how they handle praise

    But what percent of businesses aren’t somehow sleazy or hypocritical?

    I say that because I recently posted what I considered to be an unsponsored positive post about a company I did not know much about.

    Now the comments that others left make me doubt that brand. And that was an unpaid reference. What happens if it is paid? People are more inclined to become skeptical.

    People don’t know how they themselves are going to act to feedback or emails, etc. Why add additional variables and parties into the system?

  2. While it’s not the same as commenting on ads, ARA Content has had some success with a new advertorial offering called AdFusion.

  3. (the advertisers) is that sometimes people learn a lot more from how a business owner handles a complaint moreso than how they handle praise. it makes it a ‘little more real’ – a little more personal. (which, some people say, is what’s gonna count years from now…)

    it is hard, though, but in the long run i think it will be worth it. it’s not gonna happen over night, but i think it will eventually move toward that ‘more personal’ model…

    -kpaul

    • Could advertisers be bloggers? Guest bloggers?

    No, they can have their own blog! They might comment but should never ever be allowed to really do editorial work.

    If you would allow that your journalistic reputation would go down the drain.

    • Could the lure of the giveaway overcome the fear of a “bad comment” and keep readers relatively positve? // Do we want that?

    No, giveaway is one thing but putting ‘scissors in the head of your readers’ will drive all but the greedy ones away.

    Nick, you know exactly where it hurts … the border #1 is reached when mentioned subjects are not useful for your readers anymore. Border #2 is reached when you don’t write critical stuff because you have to take care not to loose your clients. These are the reasons why the publishing media companies keep editorial and ad acquiring staff completely apart.

    Publish PR articles and don’t let readers comment on them online. That’s a pretty pragmatic approach if your customers are  afraid of bad reactions. You just need a system which allows you to mark your articles ‘no comments, not rackbacks’.

    • If not story ads, how else can we engage the reader, without overstepping editorial bounds?

    Just tell the truth. Company xy pays you for their own blog in sub-domain or folder xy. You ‘salt’ your main page with little teaser articles and link to the companies blog article. You have to tell your readers it’s advertising or at least promotion.

    • Perhaps we need to push editorial bounds, no pain, no gain

    People with dollars signs in their eyes don’t care. Editorial content will always have a quota of PR content. But the reputation doesn’t come from that.

  4. I used to think it was a good idea, but there are many flawed elements to it.

    People instinctivly state that they hate marketing…why associate your brand with that at first crack.

    People who give feedback on an ad thread are not likely going to line up with the same people willing to buy your offering.

  5. I think it’s a pipe dream, I really do.

    You summed it up: Advertisers are lazy, and they’re scared of negative feedback.

    I believe in broadcast marketing (doesn’t work as well as it did in the 60s but still works in some cases). I believe in pull marketing & direct marketing (let your market come to you, and measure everything…. that’s what the Net’s all about!)

    But ‘conversational marketing’? If anyone has ever pulled it off and created above-average value with it, #1 they are the rare exception, and #2 they are probably in a specialized or extremely niche market.

    Even at Threadwatch I remember it seemed to be a bit of a struggle — and if doesn’t work for that audience (net marketers, professionals & service companies) than what possible demographic would it click with??

    On the other hand, take what I say with a grain of salt, because nothing gives me more pleasure that trashing “innovative marketing” that lacks proven ROI 🙂 Well OK maybe a few things do

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