The main purpose of this interview would be to give a voice to these two companies on how they would compete in the local blog advertising market and the role they would play in it. Personally, I feel there is enough room for both parties to succeed and grow the blog advertising market – which also means more business for all of us. For this reason, I wish both of them great success in their ventures.
This is the longest post ever on this blog, so a suggestion to my good readers would be to zoom down to the questions which interest you, and maybe read the rest in a separate sitting :)
Due to the potentially loaded nature of this post, let me disclose a few things. I know both founders personally and I wish to keep a neutral stance here. Identical questions were sent to them via email, and were replied directly to me, with neither party seeing each others anwers prior to this post. I am quoting their replies directly, so this is not a 3 way conversation. All opinions expressed below represent their views and not my own.
How do you compete with Google Adsense? Their ads are contextual, allow specific site advertising – and they will cater all types of blogs. What’s your edge over them from a bloggers point of view, and from an advertisers?
Nuffnang says: In the case of bloggers, I would not compare ourselves to Google Adsense or see them as a competitor since many blogs (including many whom have joined us today) use Nuffnang Ads as a complement with Google Adsense.
In addition to that, we are also targeting a rather different market. Contextual ads work very well for tech blogs, automobile blogs, or blogs that are of a specific category since certain keywords pay very well. They don’t work so well for personal/lifestyle blogs that write about various topics but that does not mean that the traffic personal/lifestyle blogs have are of no value to advertisers. It just means that they need a rather different targeting method to bring the best out of its audience. That’s what Nuffnang is aiming for.
Now lets talk about advertisers.
To be honest, if I were an advertiser of an online business myself, it will be very hard for me to ignore advertising on Google Adwords which explains why most of the online advertising expenditure to date is spent on Google. That being said, Nuffnang offers an alternative that does not necessarily aim to act as a replacement, but more of a complement. If you are looking to tap the audience of the highly influential blogging community in Malaysia, come to Nuffnang.
Furthermore, because we are a local company, part of our job at Nuffnang is to educate and convince local advertisers that online advertising is just the way to go especially if you’re looking to the younger generation of today. Much of this generation are big spenders when it comes to mobile phones, cameras or computers but they don’t watch much TV anymore, nor do they read much of the daily newspaper. They do read blogs though… and if you want to reach them. You advertise on blogs.
Advertlets says: I’ll start by asking you how many local ads do you see anyway, on Google Adsense? Our competitor isn’t really Google Adsense ‚¬œ the Malaysian bloggers here who make a lot of money through Adsense, manage to make it because their content is skewed towards an international audience, mainly technology or gadgets.
What we offer is the chance for the bloggers to write local content and be matched with local advertisers, and for advertisers to be able to target and the right audience through blogs ‚¬œ using demographics and geolocation..
Contextual advertising has its logical limits ‚¬œ at some point, the audience has to tell you about them for it to be accurate. For example, let’s say you ran a blog that posted lots of hot, glamourous female celebrities – contextual advertising might match you with lingerie and clothing ads based on the keywords in the blog ‚¬œ but let’s face is, men like to look at women more than than women like to look at women. Demographic based advertising would make sure that the ads are targeted at the majority of the audience, in this example, it probably would be mostly men between the ages of 20-25.
Your rival blog advertising network has just launched – What is your competitive strategy against them? Why would bloggers/advertisers choose your over them?
Advertlets says: Our competitive strategy is simply, to kick more ass, from both a design and business standpoint.
We’ve run a poll on our own site, about the poll itself, and 35% of visitors said that they love the way the poll slides. It sounds trivial at first, but then you realize ‚¬œ passionate bloggers love to customize their layout of their blogs, and put a lot of effort into the design. Of course it makes sense then that the advertising on their blogs should look and feel just as good. It reminds me of a quote by Steve Jobs from Apple, when asked to comment on Mac OS X’s Aqua user interface ‚¬œ he chose not to talk about the technology, but about the feel. Quote: We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them
Wouldn’t you choose the blog advertising network that looked better on your blog, and extended its functionality? We also pride ourselves on being less intrusive visually ‚¬œ you’ll notice that our ads are way less intrusive than Nuffnang from a size, color, and font perspective. In the long run, we believe this will pay off, as it did for a certain search engine company that defied the rules of online advertising having to be big and colourful to get attention, and decided to go with advertisements that were simpler, but smarter ‚¬œ hence more likely to get clicks. Good design is good business.
Of course, looks aside, we also have a much stronger network, reputation and establishment, based on our track record. Before we launched Advertlets.com, we were and still are a strong web design company (Josh Lim & Associates), which has done digital/online marketing & production for many local companies over the years, including : Pernod Ricard (Martell & Chivas), Proton Berhad, The Manhattan Fish Market (our current featured potential advertiser ‚¬œ we’re currently looking for qualified bloggers for a campaign, check out Advertlets.com for details), CIMB Group (CIMB Wealth Advisors & CIMB Principal), and more. Also, we have a fair share of non-local clients from Singapore, France, Hong Kong, Australia and the US.
We’re more media savvy too – Josh Lim & Associates has been featured in The Edge, The Star, R.A.G.E, CNet Asia, NTV7, 8TV, TV3, Astro Ria and more. We’ve marketed ourselves well as a company so far, and we also have other previous initiatives to prove it ‚¬œ the hugely popular RedesignMalaysia.com, an initiative that aims to improve broadband here which is ranked among the top 50,000 on Technorati. As of such, we’re pretty confident of marketing Advertlets.com, and making it worth it for everyone involved.
(You can read an interview with RedesignMalaysia.com which was previously featured on Friedbeef.com. ) Our competitor, Nuffnang’s idea of packaging all blogs, including blogs with 20 unique visits a day who are too small to stand on their own together as an advertising package sounds good in theory. However, with an average click-through rate of 1-2% globally, this means that Nuffnang advertisers get a raw deal, and will be essentially, paying for a lot of blogs that bring little to zero returns.
For example, a blog with 20 unique visits a day, assuming a CTR of 1.5%, will only bring an average of 1 whole click, after 3 whole days¦Their idea is commendable for the virtue of wanting to help everyone, but virtually impossible from a business perspective.
In terms of business model, we at Advertlets.com have a good plan that allows both the targeting of established, high traffic blogs, and also advertising across the whole network, which includes other blogs with more moderate traffic. We have a minimum requirement of 100 visits a day, hence we have blogs with more visibility and higher participation rates ‚¬œ which translates to better click-through rates.
Currently, the average blog in our network has about 400-600 impressions a day. We will also be implementing a feature where users can set a premium on their advertising rates not just based on their traffic alone, but also the audience niche that they have.
Nuffnang says: Competition is good for the blogosphere and we welcome it.
We ‘re not out to make comparisons and give reasons for bloggers/advertisers to choose us instead of Advertlets. Instead, we would rather keep our eyes on the ball in making sure we bring the benefits that both advertisers and bloggers look for in a community like ours. Our bloggers have placed their hopes on us… we are not about to disappoint them.
Yet as much as we believe in this philosophy of concentrating on what we do, Advertlets have come up with a table of comparison between itself and Nuffnang linked from the main page of its website hoping to persuade both bloggers and advertisers that Advertlets is a better option. As much as we accept their decision for going down such a route, many things in the comparison are certainly not true and very misleading.
For example, Advertlets claim on their comparison table that Nuffnang does not have a user login. Yet we’ve been getting many e-mails from bloggers about how much they love to login to view our Analytics page where we can show not only the Unique Visits and Page Views that each blog gets but also the referrals, the countries of origin and even the search engine Keywords.
They also claim on their table of comparisons that we do not offer targeted advertising which is again misguiding since we obviously do targeting the same way they do it ie through a survey.
That being said, the most important thing both bloggers and advertisers should note is that at Nuffnang, we’re a community and rightfully so. We have brought in bloggers in certain talent pools to help us out and given them a share of the company. All the people behind Nuffnang including the very team of programmers that founded it have a direct or indirect stake in the company. Up till today, we are still looking for bloggers who have specific skill sets to come in and own a part of Nuffnang.
What other new features are you looking to add to this service to give it an extra edge over the rest?
Nuffnang says: You’ll just have to wait to see! Hold your breath folks.
Some features will be brand new and others will not. But as we work closer with the industry and bloggers and understand their needs, we will adopt features that fit their requirements.
Advertlets says: We will also be rolling out new features including:
– A desktop widget where you can monitor your blog statistics right from your desktop!
– More blog widgets: Music players, photo viewers, mailing lists, etc. If you thought the poll system was cool, wait till you see the rest.- Ability to cash out your earnings via mobile prepaid reloads. Of course you can always request cash/cheque, but for our bloggers on prepaid, we feel this is a unique and convenient solution.
– And also, the ability to take part in contests, polls, and win monthly prizes from our advertisers.
– An auto-SEO and blog aggregation function, which basically means if you join our network, your site also get better search engine results, and better site rankings. We can’t disclose how we will do this yet ‚¬œ but it’s all white hat SEO techniques, not to worry.
However, some of these features will be only for those who belong exclusively on our network. We define exclusive by not being signed up to other Asian blog advertising networks. Taking part in international programs such as Adsense, Payperpost, etc, will not disqualify you from being an exclusive Advertlets member.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Advertlets says: Joining us means you can find out more about your blog readers through the demographics poll, and we also offer a referral program for qualified bloggers. And through the Advertlets Philanthropy program, we and the rest of our members can help deserving causes through both financial and publicity means, including those who need financial/medical aid, charities, and the local creative scene (local bands & artists).
Lastly, you can read the competitor comparision chart on Advertlets.com
Bloggers and their audiences are far from just being just a niche crowd, and we are looking forward to working together with everyone to take this innovative advertising medium further!
Nuffnang says: To the bloggers at Nuffnang, thank you very much for your support. Whatever success we have achieved so far is only because of this special group of people that have put their trust in us. Each and every one of us can never be more grateful. Thank you.