Home SXSW: Why Marketers Need To Work With People Media

SXSW: Why Marketers Need To Work With People Media

This is the final post from SXSW,
by Sean Ammirati of mSpoke. I’d like to thank Sean
for the excellent coverage of SXSW! Also, a disclaimer for this post: FM Publishing is
the main topic in the post and Read/WriteWeb is a part of this advertising

Yesterday I attended a panel which I’ve
been thinking about constantly, ever since the panel ended. The panel was entitled “Why
Marketers Need To Work With People Media
” and it had a set of rock star panelists (in
the SXSW interactive, not music, sense of the word!). The participants

While the panel referred to it as ‘people media’, it could also be described as
‘social media,’ ‘read/write media’, ‘conversational media’ (as John Battelle has been
describing it lately) or even
‘user generated content’ [Ed: that last term is beginning to get unpopular].
Regardless of what you choose to call it – and I’ll use the term ‘People Media’ in this
post because of the panel title – these sites are a significant part of online traffic
and so delivering high-value advertising is key. Note that John Battelle covered most of
the material from the panel in a recent post

Publisher Opt-In Advertising

One of the interesting things about Federated Media is that it gives blog authors the
ability to reject advertisers from running ads on their site. In the post mentioned above, he

“The approach of having the authors approve the companies which advertise on
their site seems obvious, but when you think about how traditional media works, it’s
downright revolutionary. The lunatics were running the asylum! But it turns out, when an
author approves a company to advertise on his or her site, they are, in essence, inviting
the company to join that sites’ conversation. A permission has been given, a trust
established. To this day, every single ad FM sells is approved by our authors before it
appears on their site. And despite our initial worries that author approvals would be a
hurdle to marketers – after all, they’re used to getting their way – it has, in fact,
turned into an overture, a conversation starter that has led to all sorts of examples of
new approaches to marketing online.”

John provided an interesting example of one of his bloggers rejecting an ad. Cory at
BoingBoing has been a
very vocal opponent of DRM
. When a pro-DRM group approached Boing Boing (via FM
Publishing) to run a $35,000 a month ad, they turned it down. At this point, this is the
largest advertising opportunity that has been refused. However, since launching, John
estimated that only 1% to 2% of all advertisers have been rejected. In addition to these
small percentages, many specific ads have been refused until a better creative was
developed – which leads to the next point.

Evolution of Advertising Creative

In John’s post he wrote about the creatives of 3 campaigns which actually leveraged
the conversation. They included an ad for Dice.com, which
used JavaScript to ask “Why does your job suck?”, and then allowed respondents to enter
their answers into a text box – which ended up displaying in the ad. On the panel, John
said that currently only about 15% of ads on FM Publishing leveraged unique creative like
this. John said that these ads are performing very strongly and maintaining their
performance. Typically, a display ad’s performance (regardless of interaction metric)
degrade over time as visitors to a site grow used to seeing them.


The web is only going to become more social. However, the dirty little secret is that
those pages don’t monetize nearly as well as many other pages – which are either
contextually rich (in some areas) or the direct result of a user request (such as
search). So the challenge is to figure out how to adequately compensate the individuals
behind ‘people media’. John made an interesting point about the gap in time between
search engines emerging as the method of navigating the web, and those queries being
monetized effectively. Today, search advertising is a multi-billion dollar business. To
do this it took the correct metric (Cost Per Click) and correct ad unit (text

I’m confident that as the interactive advertising and media industries wrestle with
the challenge, we’ll come up with the correct metric and ad unit for advertising on
people media. However, just like it took time in search – it will take time with people

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