Bloggers and advertising–more thoughts

September 5, 2006

Will advertising destroy bloggers’ credibility? That question is raising some interesting comments. I know of one very strong critic of an organization who had a critic blog site, but then discovered the advertising dollars possible by trading on the name of the company he was criticizing. So he attempted to “remake” himself into a credible, objective non-critical blog that would serve as a forum for those who wanted to make pro and con comments about the company. One example of how the lure of advertising dollars can and will affect bloggers.

But James Bruni raises an interesting question about advertisers not spending money on blogs that are strongly left or right politically. I’m not so sure of that. In the pre-Civil war days, print publications were for the most part strongly aligned to one party or the other. We can’t imagine it right now, but what if our media did not pretend to be objective but clearly and unapologetically stated that they supported one party over the other–and everything they wrote about was from the point of view of persuading readers to their editorial position. While perhaps overstating it a bit, that is my understanding of the media pre-Civil War. It changed with AP, Associated Press. The idea was that they would pool the reporters who would provide the facts, then the individual papers would spin the facts the way they wanted and they way their particular audiences expected. They could save money and still report in a partisan manner. What happened is that they found readers rather liked the more objective “just the facts” approach provided by the straight ahead AP dispatches. And this style became dominant eventually.

Media historians, weigh in here. But my point is that there are many advertisers who would be happy to align in one direction or another–and many more who would prefer a more “objective” approach. Of course, talking about “objectivity” in today’s mainstream media is a whole other subject. At least there is the existing convention of presuming objectivity.

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One Response to “Bloggers and advertising–more thoughts”

  1. Tyler K. Says:

    I think it’s unavoidable that placing ads on a blog is going to affect the author’s credibility. It’s simply the nature of the advertising beast, people start thinking with their wallets in mind. However, I think the universal access, increasing ease of use, and obliteration of the concentration of power – the very things that made blogs so popular – will prevent blogging as a whole from being ‘tainted’.

    These days, if we don’t like what we’re reading in the paper, we can just write our own paper. If big blogs lose all their cred, there’s millions and millions of small blogs waiting to fill those readership holes.

    As a side note, I’ve just started my own blog and already I’ve placed Google’s AdSense banners on it. It seems to me that the keyword system Google has developed for their advertising system is perfect for blogs. No matter the stance of the blog, there’s some crazy guy with money willing to pay to advertise there. The power is totally in the hands of the individual, to the extent that they can say what they like for free and worry about which marketer is salivating over their readers’ eyes after the fact.


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