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Are Bloggers Holding All of the Cards in the Big Game of Advertising?


A few weeks ago, I was at Ad:Tech sitting in a session titled, “The Next Big Thing: Is Advertising Really the Solution?“. Although the session was fascinating, I found that I sometimes felt like the odd-woman out. Ad:Tech is geared to marketers, as in, big ad agencies and corporations such as GM, P&G or online properties such as CNET.

When you have such a big audience, presentations are filled with fancy charts, statistics, and outrageously expensive metrics that I could only dream of having access to. Leading the presentation was Pete Blackshaw from Nielsen BuzzMetrics (who’s also a daddy blogger! GO PETE!!). Presenting alongside Pete was Matt Spiegel, who is a great friend of mine and heads up Resolution Media, a large search engine marketing firm here in Chicago.

Since Pete also co-founded WOMMA (the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association), it came as no surprise that the statistics he presented were pretty compelling - over 90% of purchases made online were a direct result of some kind of word of mouth action. Being a known brand website came in 2nd, and an online published review came in 4th.

Like I said, no surprises - word of mouth is king when it comes to influencing purchases.

Then Matt got to talking about search engines, optimization, and how blogs rule the land when it comes to natural search results. Again, not much new to talk about… until…

…Suddenly the enormity of the equation hit me upside the head.

Are we holding all of the cards?WE own search results.

WE rule over word of mouth marketing online.

When someone does a search for a product, guess who is on the front of the line… the ones with the MOST power over purchasing behavior?

WE are.

This isn’t just about being courted by marketers. This isn’t just about throwing up a review. WE have just as much influence (if not more so) over a company’s bottom line, our neighbor’s purchasing decisions, and it could be argued the economy as some of the largest brands on the planet.

Did you have any idea of the tremendous responsibility we face?!

So, where do we go from here?

And how will you handle this kind of responsibility as a blogger?

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    On August 14th, 2007 at 4:03 pm, cooliojones said:

    When you out t this way, I do see how WE DO hold the cards! Marketers nees US for distribution of word-of-mouth advertising, and we have to know our worth. The only problem I see is that early in the game, you will have those who sellout to anyone willing to pay them some attention. But if you have something of value and you know your worth, those ‘problems’ will be minuscule I presume.

    So where do we go from here? How do we form a ‘blogger alliance?’ Is something like this even feasible? I think starting this discussion is the logical first step.

    On August 14th, 2007 at 6:44 pm, Suzie Cheel said:

    I LIKE- we hold the cards, I don’t think I have seen Blogging and marketing presented in this light .

    looks like we can give ourselves more

    On August 14th, 2007 at 6:54 pm, jen said:

    Yes, I think bloggers do hold the power. If I feel strongly about something, one way or the other, I’ll write about it and if someone reads it they can take it on board or not.

    I did read a blog entry recently about a person’s very considered opinion on a certain dishwasher he bought. Now that brand is stuck in my head and if I ever buy a dishwasher I’ll remember what he said before I buy.

    As for how bloggers cash in on this, I’m not sure? At this stage (maybe never) I don’t want to be a pay per post blogger. I’d rather write about something that I experience as a matter of course.

    On August 14th, 2007 at 7:10 pm, Roger Anderson said:

    I think the We in “We hold the cards” is the vocal consumer not necessarily the blogger. While blogger probably have higher SER that does not mean they are the only ones expressing opinions. There are many websites where you can go to get opinions.

    I do believe that any blogger who does sponsored reviews may undermine their credibility to some degree. On the other hand many celebrities and news people pitch products and no one seems to mind. I think that has to do with clarity of interest.

    I do not believe it is in the best interest of bloggers to form an alliance that would be viewed as having a common interest and not the interest of the consumer. The power of word of mouth lies in the sincerity of the expressed opinion.

    On August 14th, 2007 at 7:44 pm, JoLynn Braley said:

    It does make a lot of sense that bloggers hold so much power….so far I haven’t experienced this re: marketing and advertisers though, except for someone contacting me and asking me to write about their product….unpaid, and this was a product I’ve never used before.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Wendy, you offer so much excellent info, I just want to learn everything that I can as fast as I can! :)

    On August 14th, 2007 at 9:09 pm, Wendy Piersall said:

    Thanks everyone!

    @ Roger - in their presentation, they specifically made a distinction between word of mouth (recommendations) vs. Reviews. But now I do wonder how they measure the difference between the two! :D

    On August 15th, 2007 at 6:55 am, Dennis Bjørn Petersen said:

    I tend to forget the “power” your words sometimes can have.

    When I’m buying a new gadget I usually research it on the net first. If I read two reviews that praises it and two blogs that doesn’t like it, I’m in one hell of a dilemma.

    The authority, usually behind the reviews, know what they are talking about, where as the blogger usually have some practical experience with the gadget.

    Often you will find bloggers talking about devices that the official sites hasn’t reviewed yet, but as Roger says paid reviews could be undermine the bloggers authority.

    On August 15th, 2007 at 10:11 am, Aruni said:

    Very interesting. How do they decide who holds the most power in the blogosphere for their products/services. How do we as bloggers help promote products without sounding ‘forced.’ I would be uncomfortable 100% endorsing something I have not used. I don’t mind mentioning things I hear about but recommending something whole heartedly if I haven’t used it is not something I could do.

    So how do they determine which blogger has used and liked their products and if the blogger has already blogged about it for free how does it all work out. Interesting set of issues to think about…

    On August 21st, 2007 at 2:28 pm, Elizabeth said:

    Thanks for the link, Wendy. I just read your note to advertisers regarding your paid review policy, and I think I will write something similar for my site as well. What really bugs me is getting emails from people wanting me to come check out their website, and I know they are expecting a free site review. I reply to those emails by telling them where to look for my Text Link Ads link and my PayPerPost Direct badge, and suggest that they purchase an ad or post from me. Or if they have a product to pitch, and it’s something I’m interested in, I suggest that they send me one to try out, and if I like it, I’ll review it. I’ve gotten a few free things that way. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

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