Trends in Blog Advertising for 2009

As we wrote January 14, the web advertising market is taking a hit in 2009. Since we wrote that post, cuts were announced at b5media and Federated Media, and one analyst suggests that search advertising in the United States, one space that was thought to be immune from the downturn, dropped 8% last quarter.

Things are looking grim, but that doesn’t mean that web site and blog owners will be sitting back quietly allowing themselves to loss money without finding ways of countering it.

Having spoken to a number of people in relation to the market, read a couple of different takes, and having also done my own homework on alternatives (some we’re already trying), here’s the trends I believe we’ll see in 2009.

Conversational Advertising

“Conversation advertising” is the term used by Federated Media to include a modern take on product endorsements. These are ads that include quotes or even video from site owners plugging a product in place of a standard ad unit. Some previous campaigns from FM have included special landing pages with interactive features and competitions.

I don’t believe we’re about to be swamped in this form of advertising, but it will be a growth trend this year, because it makes a lot of sense, not because it’s a new idea, but because it’s a tested idea that is nearly as old as advertising itself. Celebrity endorsements from bloggers with a mix of conversations designed to draw people in and think about products.

Paid Posts

We took a look at the growth in paid posts back in December after a range of well known bloggers participated in shopping campaigns for Izea.

The format remains somewhat controversial, but after some discussion with Izea’s Ted Murphy, I was interested to learn that one of the biggest things holding people back from participating is no longer in play; that is, punishment by Google. Murphy pointed me to comments from Google’s Matt Cutts where Cutts states that as long as the post is disclosed, and the links are tagged nofollow, then Google doesn’t have an issue.

Ironically perhaps, given the history, Izea/ PayPerPost is the safest bet here, as they insist on Google compliance, where many other sites don’t, and in my research, won’t actually pay out if links are tagged nofollow.

The driver in paid posts will be two fold: bloggers looking for additional income given the drop in display advertising, and companies looking at getting better value for their ad spend. While not every one will embrace the idea, it will trend upwards in 2009, and become more common than it is today.

In-line text advertising

In-line text advertising delivers contextual links on keywords within a post. Google has no issue with them as long as it’s clear they’re advertising, and the links don’t pass Google juice.

There are a number of players in this space, and we’ve landed at Kontera. I’ve tried to sign up to a competitor to get a feel for which is better, but despite applying twice, IntelliTXT has never so much as knocked me back, let alone accepted us. Having been running Kontera for around a month, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results.

I’m seeing these units pop up on more and more sites, and given the CTR rates they receive, they offer a strong addition to standard advertising. Expect in-text advertising to be a strong trend in 2009.

Interstitials

interstitial’s aren’t a popular ad format, interrupting reading on a site for the crime of simply following an internal link, and yet they’re popping up on big company sites now. The appeal of interstitials is simply financial: even on low end display advertising providers, the CPM rates for interstitials are often significantly higher.

As bloggers look for extra ways to make money, we’ll see an increased use in interstitials.

Text Links

Despite the risk of losing Google juice, the recession will drive growth to text links. A number of people I’ve spoken to lately tell me that the market for text links is still strong, and rates have actually increased due to many publishers pulling back since Google started punishing sites for running them.

It’s a risk I’m not willing to take at the moment, but others will. Text link ads will grow in 2009.

Background Advertising

Already popular in the celebrity blogosphere, background/ theme advertising will grow in 2009 as advertisers seek to gain attention at higher rates than traditional display advertising.

These ads usually include a background theme and mix of display ads, often taking exclusive above the fold positions on blogs that run them.

These will grow in 2009 and start appearing on all sorts of blogs as a different approach to product awareness.

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