The Brand and Blogger Playbook

September 30, 2013
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A few weeks ago Crystal Duncan from IZEA, Cristy Clavijo-Kish and I discussed our views on the rules of engagement between brands, bloggers and blogger networks at the Niche Parent conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  We wanted the bloggers attending to leave the session with ideas on how to become more professional in their approach and brands in attendance to know how to better interact and partner with bloggers.

Bloggers are Publishers and Brands are Advertisers

Bloggers need to start thinking of themselves as publishers and treat brands like advertisers. A blog is just another place to publish content and advertising. It bridges the gap in the long evolution of publishing from printed word to streaming video.

When brands sponsor content on a blog, they become advertisers.  When a brand allocates their marketing funds, they decide how, when and where to market their products.  They will typically spread their marketing dollars across different types of media, allocating dollars to social, television, radio, magazines and other traditional forms of media.  Advertisers should diversify their spending, but they should also make sure to save a big chunk of marketing dollars for social.

Demographics Are Important to Advertisers

Just like they target content to readers of traditional media, advertisers have started making very specific requests around the demographics of the bloggers chosen for campaigns.

Publishers need to think of their blog platforms as online magazines. An advertiser should clearly understand the topic and focus of a blog from the moment they land on the site.  An advertiser wants to make sure the right audience sees content about their product.

Ask your friends or family (ideally ones that don’t know much about your blog) to describe your site just from perusing the home page.  This will help you decide if you should change your header, blog name or navigation bar to make your goals and messaging clearer.

How Advertisers and Blog Networks Choose Publishers

When Collective Bias chooses publishers for one of our content programs, we look at three criteria.  We analyze the publisher’s site and relevance to the advertiser’s goals and objectives.  The advertiser gives us very specific types of people they want to reach.  Sometime it’s a specific geographical region, age group, gender or income level.

Consequently, we must make sure we are spot on when choosing the publishers for their advertising campaign.  You may have noticed that blogger networks are asking for very specific information in your profiles.  One of the most important things you can do is accurately fill out profiles for the networks and communities you join. Missing or inaccurate data could keep you from getting an advertising opportunity perfect for your blog and your readers.

Once we identify a good publisher/blog fit, we look at the balance of original content versus sponsored content on the blog.  We don’t want to see post after post of sponsored content, nor do we want to see stock photos.  Publishers should create original content on their blogs.  Original content helps with your site rank and SEO.  Balancing sponsored content with original, organic content is a key piece in being chosen for campaigns.

Traffic alone won’t get you chosen for a program, but it does play a big part. Just like any media buy, the advertiser pays for views to the content they sponsor.  Publishers need to realize that their content is an advertisement.  Advertisers buy ad space on your blog in the form of a sponsored post written in your voice.

We choose you for the reasons I mentioned above, niche and audience, creative content and as many eyeballs as you can get on the advertisement.  This is a business. You are the magazine owner, and you are hired to create the advertisement.

This is a Job, Treat It Like One

Once you agree to participate in a program, you are entering into a work agreement.  You have contracted to do an advertisement on your blog. If you do not complete the job as instructed, you will need to edit your advertisement until it is complete.  When you complete the job as entailed in your instructions you receive payment for your work.

Communication is Essential

Lastly, we all know life happens.  If you cannot complete your assignment, communicating with your primary contact is key to keeping the relationship.

If you communicate, your spot can be replaced with someone else so that we can deliver the promise made with the client, the advertiser. Just like the deadlines we give you, we also have committed to a deadline shortly after your due date.  Failing to communicate will tarnish your relationship much more than letting us know you’ve hit a bump as soon as you can.

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