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Archive for July, 2008


Social Polarity to Build Blog Community

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Interesting article at MindValley Labs on Positioning, “Social Polarity” and Vibrant Blog Communities, however it only went halfway. They tell you that to build a great community, you need to take a strong position against something, then market the blog to appropriate communities taking into account the positioning.

Theoretically great, but that is quite a mouthful. No hints on how to market the blog to these communities or draw in commenters.

Me, I have always taken a direct response-ish position relative to all of this: Comments are a function of blog traffic. You probably (don’t know, never been able to test) get more comments if you get more traffic. Perez Hilton gets more than Fred Wilson who gets more than me. Does Fred Wilson have a polarizing opinion? Not really.

In an effort to give more than opinion, we crunched a little, tiny, minute iota of data. I wanted to compare Scoble and Fred Wilson, unfortunately, doesn’t show up in comScore, Quantcast, or Google AdPlanner data, so I had to eyeball with Alexa.

So Scoble and Fred Wilson get basically the same amount of traffic according to Alexa:

Here is a bunch of other data I rapidly generated.
Uniques (Google AdPlanner) 61000 1600000 2400000
Page Views (AdPlanner) 162000 3500000 51000000
Total posts 11 14 32 51
Avg posts per day 1.375 1.75 16 51
Total Comments 410 298 1345 5211
Avg comments per post 37.3 21.3 42.0 102.2
Comments per unique 0.0049 0.0008 0.0022
Comments per page view 0.0018 0.0004 0.0001
Period July 4 – July 11 July 4 – July 11 July 10-11 11-Jul
Comments per post 27 4 2 22
23 10 8 163
25 8 51 39
11 11 20 72
51 0 10 125
66 18 62 24
83 58 39 34
37 2 100 110
11 8 52 141
61 21 52 88
15 57 28 37
35 22 83
31 17 103
35 23 98
25 415
34 274
33 52
15 73
33 26
39 192
54 34
88 89
8 256
90 81
23 21
18 42
220 123
15 52
36 145
18 121
105 56
5 116

Not the world’s greatest data set, but at least enough for us to have something to talk about. So Perez Hilton posts a ton every day, gets a ton of visitors and gets a boatload of comments. TechCrunch posts less, gets slightly less traffic than Perez and gets significantly fewer comments per post, Scoble and Fred Wilson post a lot less, get a lot less traffic, and Scoble gets a lot fewer comments per post. But Fred WIlson gets nearly as many comments as TechCrunch!

You might also note that the smaller sites tend to get more comments per post. Maybe this indicates a more vocal, hard core audience, though my hypothesis would have been that audiences follow some bell curve-ish distribution of active vs not active readers.

A more interesting way to further this analysis would have been to break down the comments and determine how many large an audience is actually generating them, modeling the vocalness of the minority at different points.

Regardless, we can probably safely say that, given Fred and Scoble’s traffic similarities, it is not strictly traffic correlated. Furthermore, one could conclude that opinion (polarization) matters less than one might think because Scoble tends to be thought of as more polarizing than Fred Wilson.

As I say all the time, turns out there is not an obvious way to build a blog community.

Audience Remarketing for Oversold Publishers is Hard

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Today I had this sudden sensation that many of my posts tend to be about how things are a little harder than people expect them to be.

Today’s “actually, this problem is pretty hard” is based on an article in Advertising Age about is planning to extend the reach of their web site by buying exchange inventory, allowing them to sell more of their audience in the face of sold out inventory. has been selling this off and on for years under the name “Audience Extend”.  Theoretically, this is an extremely powerful product for an oversold publisher because it gives them access to the exact same audience on relatively inexpensive inventory.  This can be valuable to an advertiser that is trying to reach this audience and valuable to a publisher eager to continue to take revenue.

I have always found that these deals are extremely challenging to make work because in a situation like this, the salesforce of the publisher (in this case is used to representing a premium inventory placement (it is sold out!).  Once you start working to educate the sales force about how to sell in a network model (sometimes blind placements, uneven, usually non-guaranteed distribution of advertising across placements, etc.), you are taking your sales force out of your sweet spot and asking them to do something different.  Furthermore, usually you need to find someone on the network side who is experience at the network model sales approach and involve them in either training or directly supporting the sales cycle.  Obviously, this is not a job you can ask your worst salesperson to do.

Given the margin compression that results from the network sharing revenue with the selling publisher, plus the cost of inventory, it can be hard to justify on the network side investing appropriately in the partnership.  In the same vein, when the network offers to put forth substantial resources, the publisher sometimes becomes concerned that the sales force may take their eye off the ball with the constant barrage of network rhetoric.

Managing partnerships is a delicate challenge that necessitates both parties investing significantly upfront to maximize the likelihood of success.  It will be interesting to see if Adsdaq and make this work in any context outside of a one-off deal opportunity.