Networks May Be the Easiest Solution for Bloggers, Marketers

Why Going It Alone Limits Income-Generating Ad Solutions

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This is a response to Lenore Skenazy, who asked, "Why is it so hard for a blogger to find suitable advertisers on her own?"

Danielle Wiley
Danielle Wiley
Running the consumer brands group at Edelman Digital in Chicago, I face a similar struggle, albeit from the opposite side of the fence. Our clients are dying to connect with bloggers like Lenore, but they are limited in their opportunities to do so. To that end, the simplest solution we've found is to work with blogger networks such as BlogHer or Federated Media. At Edelman, we like these networks because they offer quality blogs, and they allow us to get creative with our buys.

Banner ads offer little to no engagement, click-through rates are often low, and true ROI can be hard to determine. We prefer to include banner ads as a value add to a bigger, more engaging program. For example, with BlogHer, we have worked with blogs in their network to generate content around a specific topic (potty training for example). BlogHer then creates widgets that aggregate the headlines into an ad unit, creating an editorial product that offers value and increases dialogue.

With Federated Media, we can get even more creative. Last year, we worked with them to create a custom section on The Pioneer Woman. For two months, she featured a dairy section on her blog. Also included were custom recipes, a reader contest and, of course, banner ads.

From a blogger perspective (and I can speak to this because I am one myself; my blog is on the BlogHer ad network), none of these networks is ideal unless your traffic is astronomical. Monthly payments are relatively low, and it never feels like you are getting as much bang for your buck as you deserve. As a result, I have seen bloggers attempt to sell their own ads, but before long, they often go back to one of the networks.

Ultimately, there is too much red tape involved to go it alone. When large brands buy ads, they expect auditable results. There are small local and/or independent brands that are likely willing to buy based on estimated monthly traffic, but I don't know many bloggers who have the time or wherewithal to be their own ad salesperson. It's a time-consuming gig. I spoke with Kristen Chase and Julie Marsh from about this. They are part of the Federated Media network, but they also sell their own ads. For them, it works, but not every blogger has the resources (or traffic) that they do. Marsh acts as a dedicated ad sales director, offering multiple options, from simple banner ads to more complex sponsored newsletters.

So no, there currently is no magic bullet for running income-generating ads on a blog. However, given the rate at which the media is growing, I have faith that a good solution will make itself available in less than 150 years.

I am not sure what the solution will look like, but based on our experiences, I can state that it will need to offer more than just straight banners, and it will need to be scalable and flexible enough to accommodate blogs of all niches and sizes. Until then, ad networks are the best option.

Danielle Wiley is senior VP-digital brands at Edelman Digital, Chicago. She also blogs at
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