Want To Buy Against Blog Readers?

One of the problems I've had with blogs that I've carped about in this space is that, taken as a whole, they don't have nearly enough critical mass to be considered media.

Sure, it's cool that there's this way for micro-sub-segments to be defined and heard. But, for one thing, who cares--since if everyone has a voice, it gets very noisy; and for another thing, doesn't assignment of the term media imply monetization?

That sequence of challenges is one thing that has always seemed crippling to me, since the first complaint brackets the second. The best thing about blogs in terms of their content is the worst thing about them in terms of anyone's ability to monetize them. They're very precise, so their audience sets are very small. Blogs make for a nice sub-segment within interactive media, since they feed search engines so well and can be used for marketing purposes very effectively. But, to my way of thinking, that just makes them as valuable as direct mail pieces or collateral --a somewhat small, tactical part of a media strategy, nothing more.



Federated Media is among the companies that have designed a solution that could perhaps remedy this for blogs and their advocates. Federated's metablogs offer value to three constituencies. One constituency value set is directed to the readers who want a human editor to sift through dozens of selected content sources online & to surface the essential articles each day. A second constituency value set is directed toward advertisers who want their brands associated with the leading online voices, all through one place buying opportunity. A third is directed toward the individual weblog authors, who get the opportunity to forge relationships with new readers.

I know that other blog aggregators have created similar systems. But Federated Media seems to have developed something that thinks it through more comprehensively from the buy side, the sell side, and the reader's side all at once. Here's an example of what Federated is doing:

Federated Media's first metablog, FM/Tech, provides visitors and RSS readers with a quick look at the hottest stories of the day. By glancing at the top story, the feature, and the short clips presented below, readers can bring themselves quickly up to speed on the topics that most interest them--be they gadgets, broadband, Wi-Fi, or the venture capital investments that keep those new companies coming.

One click takes readers to the blog of origin, where they can read the rest of the story that teased them --and a host of stories that are filed within its topic or category as defined by the reader's preference. Federated Media's editorial team scans more than 27 FM blogs throughout the day to keep the metablog fresh.

Federated Media plans to offer metablogs in other areas --parenting, media and entertainment, business and entrepreneurship--offering more quick routes to the information and entertainment readers want, and offering its writers many new readers.

"Our metablogs give readers a great digest and writers a whole new audience, while providing a targeting option for advertisers that can be very precisely defined," said Chas Edwards, Federated's Vice President, Business Development.

Think about it --by solving the second problem I mentioned at the top--critical mass--Federated Media could actually do for blogs what Vertical Net did for special interest media online way, way back in the day. Maybe this is one of the things we'll point to that defines how different our space is now when measured against 1999. Federated is --shhh --making money! That's nutty stuff, when it comes to blogs.

As the company prepare to launch its next metablogs, on parenting, media and entertainment, and business and entrepreneurship, it will be worth watching to see how many advertisers they draw in these other segments. The network model may be under some difficult scrutiny among many of the usual Web sites. But, Federated Media is clearly on to something with its aggregation of the blogsphere.

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