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Changing Times, Blogs, Ads & Targeting : Geeks2020

Changing Times, Blogs, Ads & Targeting

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Remember the good old days of print circulation and broadcast audiences? Remember how folks used to pay for advertising on the basis of such benchmarks? Like dial phones and typewriters, such measures have not kept up with the times.

The issue is not that circulation and audiences were incorrectly counted, rather it’s that marketing today — whether by “marketing” we mean promoting a product, service, opinion or position — increasingly means targeted marketing and self-selection, the idea we only need to reach those “publics” who most likely want what we are offering.

And blogs, as we shall see, are a perfect media for the new era of targeted marketing at little cost.


In a way, though, the Internet is very much like another old media, the postal system. Just like direct mail, a major attraction of the Internet in general and blogs in particular is the ability to target recipients and measure results.

Think of a newspaper with a circulation of 500,000 readers. The paper runs a story regarding kit homes from Sears Roebuck and how such properties are increasingly valued. A great story, but only a fraction — and perhaps a tiny fraction — of those 500,000 readers actually read the story.

The attraction of targeting is very simple: You save money every time you market to someone who will buy and you lose money every time you market to someone with a closed wallet. Targeting enables marketers to reduces costs, seen the other way targeting allows marketers to maximize their return for each promotional dollar they invest.

The great beauty of blogs and the Internet is that start-up costs are minimal. You don’t need a lot of equipment — if you’re reading this you likely have all the “machines” and supplies you require.


With blogs you have the advantage of self-selection, a powerful marketing concept. Gross distribution is typically smaller than with traditional media, but users are self-selected. The only people who go to given blogs are individuals with an interest in the specific subject matter being covered. In effect, a blogger who covers the Sears kit homes mentioned above and has a few thousand visitors may actually have a greater impact on that particular niche topic than a mass-circulation media outlet with a famous name and huge staff.

Niche Marketing Versus Big Traffic

We would all like to be #1. It won’t happen for virtually all sites in any category. Here’s the good news: If you find the right space or niche then you can be #1 in your field or specialty without having 19 million visitors per month.

Think about it. You sell bricks in Peoria. Having a site that gets a lot of traffic from San Francisco is nice but how many orders do you get? Having good traffic from the Peoria community and the surrounding area brings in dollars — and that’s the measure which really counts for a commercial site.

The bottom line: Targeted and self-selected circulation is far more valuable than broad and unfocused distribution.

The niche represented by a given blog may be tiny (condos in one building) or vast (monetary policy). Interestingly, the topic covered and traffic volume are largely cost-neutral — in other words, the cost of a huge blog is not especially greater than the expense of a small one. In fact, many large blogs are run by one or two people. In comparison, a traditional medium to reach the same number of people would require a significant capital investment, facilities, equipment and staff.

The power of blogs comes not just from economics but also from targeting (we send out information regarding a blog) and reverse targeting (individuals seek out the information we offer). How do visitors find blogs of interest? Through word-of-mouth (Smith tells Jones through email), republication (something is seen on one site which leads to another site), advertising online and off plus search engine placement.

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