Ever since the woman who started MediaBistro sold her blog for $23 million, there's been a lot of talk about bloggers actually making money for this.
But I think we need to look at blogs for what they are: online evolutions of newspapers and magazines.
There are really two types of blogs, particularly in the advertising and new media space: Aggregators, like Adfreak and Adrants, where you can find all sorts of new and unusual work along with some mildly snarky commentary, and OpinionBlogs, like this one and most of the ones in the links column on your right, which are basically daily op-ed columns on what's on the writers mind.
And like most things in life, there's a whole lot of gray in this: few blogs fall exclusively in one camp or the other.
Much as we'd like to think that they're some revolutionary new thing, most blogs are basically not that different than what newspapers were about a few hundred years ago: one persons opinion of the news.
And readers of newspapers and magazines have come to accept that a certain amount of advertising is necessary to get the content they want. Provided it's clear that the advertising doesn't in any way impact the editorial.
Now what gets dodgy and what's causing so many bloggers so much tsouris, is the fact that the money bloggers in the advertising and marketing arena-- especially opinion bloggers (as opposed to aggregators) can make from advertising is pretty minimal. Certainly not enough to support themselves or to enable them to provide better or different content. (Let's face it: we're talking to a pretty limited audience.)
So then it starts to seem like a vanity project. Jaffe asking for an iPhone becomes "Is my blog that cool that you'd give up an iPhone to be associated with it?"
That's a whole different question than "Are the readers of your blog valuable enough as potential consumers for me to pay money to advertise my iPhone to them?"
And even if it's not, even if someone's really bartering an iPhone because they want to reach Jaffe's readers, it doesn't come off that way. Because the advertising becomes noteworthy. It intrudes into the editorial in a way that offends us. I mean when was the last time you saw a magazine article about how the publisher landed the Mercedes ad on the back cover?
Seeing ads on blogs I read doesn't bother me. I mean more power to you if you can get someone to pay you. But when you start letting the advertising become part of the editorial (the whole Nikon blogger outreach program) then you've pissed me off and likely lost me as a reader.
And that's probably not worth the $20 a week most of us can actually make from advertisers.