Gabe Rivera over at Techmeme has introduced advertising on his blogosphere buzz-tracker/feed-aggregator, and it consists of posts from bloggers that are featured in a right-hand column, a privilege for which they pay several thousands of dollars per month. I think this is potentially a great idea — and much better than just running Google’s AdSense or those annoying pseudo-hyperlinks that some bloggers like.
The ads integrate well with Techmeme’s overall feel, and they are a great way of appealing to blog-centric companies, although my friend Mark Evans wonders just how many of those there might be for such a program. Jeff Jarvis likes it too — and he’s a hard man to please. Cynthia Brumfield at IPDemocracy is a fan as well, and points out that this type of ad has the potential for a lot more engagement with readers than traditional ads (Squash likes it too).
I think Dwight Silverman makes a good point on his Houston Chronicle blog, however, which is that this type of advertising isn’t for everyone or every company, and will only succeed to the extent that those who get involved in the program actually try to become part of the conversation. If those sponsored posts are just lame PR releases disguised as blogs, they will quite quickly fade into the background.
John Tokash raises an interesting point, in that he wonders how much the featured posts — which are effectively advertising — will wind up “polluting” the overall techmeme aggregation function (admittedly, “polluting” is kind of a loaded word). Just before I came across his post, in fact, I noticed that on my Netvibes feed-reading page, one of the featured posts was listed as the latest addition to Techmeme. Should they not be flagged somehow as sponsored, or advertising? Just wondering.
Dave Winer seems to be suggesting that Gabe should auction off those spaces instead of setting a price for a month, which is probably not a bad idea (makes it hard to forecast revenue though). And Erick Schonfeld wonders if featured posts might actually get less attention than if they just appeared on techmeme normally.
Gabe Rivera has a response to some of Tom Foremski’s quibbles with the model here.