Corporate Sponsorship and Advertising in the Blogosphere
I’ve been “watching” people tweet about attending the BlogHer ’12 conference for a while now. I don’t observe all the time, or even every day, but #BlogHer12 is one of the streams of hashtags I follow when I do log in. I have also started planning out a FaceBook fan page so I can update it while I’m at BlogHer at the beginning of August. It isn’t a big deal, I’ve known how to do this sort of stuff for ages, and played around with these sorts of things several times before now.
I see bloggers announcing on Twitter that they are open to receiving corporate sponsorships. Well, duh! Sure, I will take some money, too, if a corporation wants to throw money at me. I put out a question about information on securing corporate sponsorship to attend BlogHer ’12 on the BlogHer ’12 tweet-stream. I only got one meaningful reply that actually referenced a page that showed what would be called a media kit in the “print” publication world.
All of this stuff, every single bit of it, points (in semiotic jargon anything that points to something else is an index) to the fact that the publication industry isn’t just changing, it has already changed.
You can read BlogHer’s policy on sponsored bloggers at conferences on their page called BlogHer and Sponsored Bloggers: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) In it they say they first became aware of bloggers independently securing sponsorships to help them attend BlogHer conferences only a couple years ago.
The first year I attended BlogHer, 2007, I was in awe of my roomie who seemed to know how to leverage everything to its full extent and market herself exceptionally well. I have stayed in contact with her on several networks and watched her develop and extend her brand. She was only the first of many, many savvy, intelligent, and entrepreneurial women I would meet through BlogHer.
What I think I am seeing is the new and very different face of publishing. When I was a little girl reading the magazines on my parent’s end table between Mom’s spot on the couch and Dad’s chair, I remember a women’s magazine with a column called something like “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” That column transmogrified into 100s if not 1000s of blogs where relationships are examined and possibilities far less genteel than in that original column are voiced, remixed and chimed in on again and again in the comments sections of blogs.
Ads on blogs, memberships in ad networks, and give aways and coupon exchange were the “egg money” of the 2000s. But right around 2010 that began changing again as professional models of marketing designed for the social web began to be incorporated in Mommy Blogs by the young professionals who helped design social media.
The incorporation of professional strategies and tactics into a totally new channel of communication that grew out of a rather stilted publication model where 90 percent of the information that went out to women in magazines through a rather one sided flow was in the form of advertising.
It seems that some women have managed to market themselves to the vestiges of the old magazine advertising models in the form of P.R. companies that have always created ad campaigns for manufacturers. Right now these companies are apparently willing to invest in women who are creating the new medium that is replacing the old. Their intended market is the same as ever, the people who run the millions of households that comprise the bulk of the American marketplace: the women raising families.
Smaller segmented populations are a known commodity in media and have been so since the explosion of cable channels replaced the small number of channels carried by early cable stations along with network stations. Blogs are segmenting a market that was once populated by “ladies” magazines.
The women who attend BlogHer do so for a variety of reasons, only a very few of them want to develop a professional publication.
Some of women attend to learn how to make “egg money.” Egg money isn’t just chicken scratch, by the way. Sorry, I could not resist that one. Egg money, for those of a generation totally disconnected from the last vestiges of a predominantly rural America that existed in the 20th Century, was the “extra” money made by women selling eggs, that they used to fund rural households “incidental” expenses.
Some of the attendees do so to find out about making their blogs more professional but not necessarily to make tons of money. They may want to blog in support of a cause, to advance a belief, to connect with hobby aficionados who share the same passion they do.
Some attend to have a break from family, travel, and meet-up with old, or make new, friends.
The women who attend and want to create a professional publication and work with advertisers who want to connect with their readers is probably relatively small. The number who have the where with all to to figure out how to sell their own attendance at a conference to a corporate sponsor are a much smaller group. This small number is why I fail to understand why the folks who have corporate sponsors are so tight-lipped about the whole process.
Competition is vastly over-rated. Cooperation in developing a new market should be one of our goals, in my very humble opinion. It is very unlikely that many of us would pose any competition to anyone else. We blog in different areas, in different ways, and could provide inroads to very different groups of potential customers to the same company.
I’m a free flow of information sort of person so I will share basic information I find out about the sponsorship process as I figure it out.
Stay tuned. I will definitely write about this topic again.