Gawker Hawkers: New Blogs Launch With Advertisers On Board

The Gawker Media Empire launches two new blogs today--Gridskipper, dedicated to travel, and Lifehacker, which will examine software downloads and time-saving Web sites. Both blogs already have corporate marketers on board: Sony Electronics will sponsor Lifehacker, while Cheaptickets will likely sponsor Gridskipper.

Lifehacker will include software download recommendations and content about spam filters, virus killers, spyware, search engines, e-mail applications, Internet phones, and general productivity tips. It's a counterpart to Gizmodo, Gawker Media's blog that reviews consumer electronics, but will be written in a less snarky style than sister blogs Gawker, Defamer, and Wonkette, said Gawker Media Publisher Nick Denton.

11-10slide1 "Computers make us more productive. Yeah, right. Lifehacker recommends the software downloads and Web sites that actually save time. Don't live to geek; geek to live," states Lifehacker's home page. Lifehacker is edited by Gina Trapani, known for her blog located at Scribbling.net.

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Sony will promote its HD3 Walkman on Lifehacker by running creative ad units in three different sizes-- 160x600, 728x90, and 300x250; the Sony logo also will be integrated into the Lifehacker masthead. The deal was put together by BlackInc Ventures, an interactive sales and business development agency.

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In a statement on its Web site, Gridskipper proclaims itself "the decadent travel guide," and describes its mission as: "Scouring the world for discount flights, chic hotels--and pretty people." Andrew Krucoff, a former guest writer on Gawker and Fleshbot, will edit the site, which will focus on urban travel.

While it's still rare for large companies to advertise on blogs, Sony and Cheaptickets are not alone. To date, marketers such as Audi, Nike, GE, AT&T, Disney, Viacom, and Hewlett Packard also have advertised on blogs.

Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker Media, said that large businesses appear more comfortable with blogs now than in the past. "Blogs were more experimental back when Audi and Nike advertised on them," said Denton. "Companies are more open to advertising on the medium and discussing the campaigns." Denton added that the exclusive interview that Bill Gates gave to Gizmodo at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month in Las Vegas will help legitimize blogs in general.

But the Gawker Media sites already are so large, and with such a loyal following, that they might attract large advertisers easier than most blogs, said Steve Rubel, public relations strategist and blogger at Micropersuasion.com. "Gawker Media crosses onto the gray area between blogs and media properties. With Gawker's readership and loyalty, it is almost in a class by itself."

Henry Copeland, founder of Blogads.com, an ad network focused on bloggers sees advertisers slowly moving toward blog advertising. "Blogs are still the dark side of the moon for 99% percent of America's advertisers. But the good news is that number was 99.999% this time last year."

Tom Hespos, President, Underscore Marketing, has seen many clients run successful campaigns on blogs, but hopes brands don't shift budgets to blogs simply because it's trendy. "I'd hate to see blog advertising become a line item on a flowchart--like paid search--simply because it's the 'latest and greatest' or because media planners see the word 'blog' in dozens of trade media stories. It would be easy to lose sight of the opportunity, given all the hype. Blogs tend to be topical and in many cases are small in terms of the audience they draw. But those audiences tend to be very loyal and very dedicated."

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