Co-opting the bloggers

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Most Popular is experimenting with an innovative, if straightforward, way to generate revenue from blogs.

It’s going to charge the bloggers.

In’s new AdVoices program, bloggers are corporations that will be charged for the privilege of posting blog entries on the site. In a program that is expected to officially debut later this year, hopes to sign five to 10 corporations on a quarterly basis to post blog entries on the site.

“This isn’t advertising,” said Kevin Gentzel, chief revenue officer at Forbes. “This is storytelling. This is thought leadership. This is deeply engaging the user or the reader in a different way.”

Gentzel said content marketing is a fact of life that magazine brands must accommodate. “We can either run from that or embrace it and run to it,” he said.

Clearly, Forbes is not the only business media brand seeking to generate revenue from blogging and bloggers. These days, there seem to be as many approaches to blogging as there are media companies.

Bloomberg Businessweek, for example, has its own staffers blog on the website., a new financial industry portal from Summit Business Media, mixes the company’s own editorial content with newswire copy and prominent industry bloggers.

NetShelter has built its entire business model around independent bloggers. The company is a network of about 200 bloggers who share in ad revenue. The model seems to be working: NetShelter generated 40.6 million unique visitors in the U.S. in August, according to comScore.

“Where we started was in 2006 by identifying the independent bloggers who had high credibility for specific topics,” said Peyman Nilforoush, CEO of NetShelter.

With the model and the flexibility to create special sites that combine entries from various bloggers and custom content from marketers, NetShelter has attracted such b-to-b advertisers as Microsoft Corp., Sprint and Verizon Communications.

IDG has taken a similar approach in developing the IDG TechNetwork, an advertising network built around independent tech blogs. Individual IDG brands have also built revenue strategies around independent bloggers.

Computerworld began incorporating independent bloggers in its Web strategy in 2007, said Scot Finnie, the brand’s editor in chief. “Today they account for about 15% to 20% of our page views,” he said.

Computerworld pays bloggers by the page view and has many of them covering smartphones and other topics that generate significant traffic. The brand also has bloggers from industry vendors who are asked to write about their area of expertise, not the offerings of their particular companies. “These are people who are noted as technology experts,” Finnie said.

Among IDG’s other approaches to using bloggers is to set up blog pages for marketers on “That’s our most community- and socially oriented editorial website in our stable,” said Charles Lee, IDG’s senior VP-strategic programs and custom solutions. For instance, Hewlett-Packard Co. sponsors a blog called “Everything Toner.”

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