The blogosphere offers an unbiased, third-party voice for consumers, while simultaneously empowering advertisers with the valuable opportunity to capitalize on the trust that has developed between bloggers and consumers.
Numerous reports from the Internet advertising industry and market researchers suggest that advertising is working on blogs. This is creating a dynamic environment where branding meets direct marketing.
WebProNews.com reported in October that advertisers and marketers alike now see the blogosphere as a powerful vehicle for extending advertising reach and targeting consumers.
In November, Revenue magazine article entitled “Online Spending Spree” credits blogs, podcasts and RSS as “registering the fastest growth rate at 70.9 percent,” in terms of national internet advertising budgets.
A recent MarketingCharts report further describes how “business-to-business marketers have adopted blogs and RSS more than other Web 2.0 tools.” In the past year, blogs encompassed 64% of media deployed in marketing programs (MarketingCharts, 11/14/07).
The success of advertising in the blogosophere is manifested through the relationship between the consumer and online e-fluencers. E-fluencers are often bloggers who have become experts, through research and knowledge, in a specific area of interest, such as MP3 players or GPS systems. E-fluencers become an influential and guiding player in the traditional concept of consumer-to-consumer marketing. E-fluencer-to-consumer marketing, a facet of consumer-to-consumer marketing, is moving to the forefront of online advertising strategies.
Consumers are most effectively influenced by e-fluencers when there is a proper balance of credibility; a climate must exist where the consumer trusts the information in the blog. When this balance is struck, e-fluencer-to-consumer communication becomes a highly effective way for brands to engage in conversation.
The future of e-fluencer-to-consumer marketing lies in the e-fluencers' ability to reach targeted audiences. The blogosphere is, after all, about relevancy and proper targeting that will ensure the right participants are engaged. Micro-advertisers are recognizing this unique marketing opportunity, and they are inserting brands into this e-fluencer-to-consumer conversation. The result is a powerful branding buzz that is reaching consumers, regardless of their accessibility to the online world or a computer in general.
The biggest asset in the e-fluencer-to-consumer relationship is credibility. To heighten credibility -- in order to capitalize on this trust between the e-fluencer and the consumer -- the advertising message must be incorporated into the most complementary and relevant blog content. For example, advertisers interested in selling the TomTom GO 920T GPS system should couple their ad with a TomTom GO 920T product review page on a blog such as www.gpsreview.net.
When bloggers talk directly and objectively with potential customers about products, advertisements complement the blog text instead of appearing intrusive or obnoxious to the blog reader like the notorious old banner ads. For the blog reader, a respectful advertisement can become part of the informative blog content, naturally infusing the advertiser’s message into the consumer's shopping decision-making process.
The success of this facet of consumer-to-consumer marketing is clear. As reported by comScore Media, “blog visitors are 30% more likely to buy products and services online.”
Watch out Santa Claus, e-fluencers are in charge this holiday shopping season; 2007 should be all about the blogs.