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November 2008

Kathryn's Blog Prognostication in light of the Coming Ad Crash

I got a note from Henry Copeland about gloomy predictions for ad sales revenue with my hundred bucks from Blogads this morning. The expanded version of what he said is now on the Blogads blog: Ad sales in Depression 2.0. I wrote him a long -- and I hope helpful -- letter back with suggestions as to how Blogads could do better with what it has to sell. Here's some of what he has to say:

The good news for indy bloggers and Blogads: our competitors — with higher overheads, less skin in the game, higher turnover and less devotion to the connecting advertisers with bloggers — will suffer more than we. Eventually, as competitors like NYTimes, TMZ, HuffingtonPost, OMG, Buzznet, TheAtlantic, Blogher, People, Myspace, Newsweek and Glam fold, scale back or lose their staff to greener pastures, ad buyers will spend more than ever with indy bloggers and Blogads.

There are a number of articles on on the Coming Blogvertising Crash out there. Googling news on ads and bubble or advertising and bubble in the news category turns up some which I was reading just last night.

Putting on my Social Media Web Guru turban for a moment (I have a lot of hats in the top of my closet), here is Kathryn's Super Supper Web 2.0 blog prognostication: A lot of blogs that tend to publish headlines with the following key words to go away:

  • How to . .
  • Reasons
  • Ways
  • Solutions
  • Easy
  • Simple
  • and headlines with numbers under five hundred (especially number spelled out)

. . . as in Fourteen Ways to Stuff Lima Beans in Your Nose, Five Sticky Things to Put in Your Hair, Fifteen Easy Ways to Build a 747 in Your Basement, Real Simple Solutions for Those Looking for an Easy Way Out, How to Decant Wine with Your iPhone, Seven Simple Reasons to Be Hostile to Strangers Wearing Yellow, Five Ways to Tell that This Blog Post Won't Actually Help You & You Should Go Take a Walk Instead, 101 Reasons You Should Stop Trying to Blog for Profit, Plus 18 New Ways to Make Below Minimum Wage while Wasting Your Life on the Internet . . . ad nauseum.

Why am I so confident in this amazing prediction? Because people who blog like that are in it for the money! It used to be that people who wrote articles with titles like that got paid two or three grand and got published in the slick magazines sold in airports and grocery stores. These days people write that kind of article for a whole lot less money, often merely the hope that Google Ad Words will slip them ten bucks. Slick magazine-type writing has really come down in the world.

And so now there is apparently about to be a big decline in online advertising revenues. I've seen estimates of the decline ranging from 9% to 40%. A bunch of would-be for-profit bloggers are about to discover how truly unprofitable blogging can be. If Gawker and Wired are cutting back, what does that mean for the rest of the blog-for-profit too-slick and too-on-message scene?

A big die-off.

SHOCK: Michelle Malkin helps Bill Ayers sell books!

Malkin writes:

God damn America . . .
and lets her readers know where to meet Bill Ayers and where to buy his book and get it signed:
He’ll be at Georgetown Law School on Monday and at a book-signing at Busboys & Poets at 14th and V St in Washington DC on Monday night at 6:30PM.
Is Malkin palling around?

Any why does Michelle Malkin hate America?

Obama and the privatized military industry

I have been wondering what Barack Obama is going to do with or about the privatized military industry that grew and flourished under George W. Bush. Presumably, Obama has a more sensible and less opportunistic approach than his soon-to-be-predecessor.

David Isenberg writes:

Obama's campaign said he will focus on bringing accountability to these forces while increasing funding for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the agency that employs Blackwater and other private security contractors.
Accountability is nice. And phasing back in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security as the provider of security for diplomats and their entourages etc. in places like Iraq is a really good idea. Also, as Isenberg discusses, ending the "outsourcing" of things this like interrogation of enemy prisoners of war is also essential.

But there are other problems than the lack of accountability and inappropriate with the emergence of the PMC industry. As with most other industries, US governmental entities are not its only clients. And inasmuch as the government reduces its spending on security contractors, companies will look for other clients.

One possible scenario is that as the US pulls its military forces out of Iraq, security contractors of various nationalities replace them. This will probably happen to some extent. There is wide variation among those who sell security services, and inasmuch as the US is not paying the tab, the US loses the possibility of demanding accountability. It is not in the national interests of the US to have a large PMC industry that the US has little or no control over out there in the world selling security services to whomever will buy them.

Blackwater CEO and Chairman Erik Prince is well known for his large political contributions to Republican and right-wing causes. Unsurprisingly, he gave $20,000 in July of 2007 to the Republican National Committee. But while he gave the maximum to George W. Bush in addition to a $25,000 contributions to the RNC in 2003 and 2005, Prince appears not to have contributed directly to the campaign of John McCain.

It's hard to know where the US government relationship with PMCs is going, but I am hopeful.

Mulling over what to do next.

Now that the election is over and we can turn our attention elsewhere, I've been evaluating what direction to go with this blog: Do my own thing? Revisit popular themes that struck a chord with my audience? Try some thing new? Go more for visualizations and blog innovation? I'm mulling it over.

But one thing is certain: I've got an audience out there. I founded this blog in February 2003 out of upset over the advent of the Iraq war. I added Sitemeter May 12, 2004. Since then, Sitemeter has recorded over 1.3 million visits and nearly 2 million page views. (While I also use the counter for a couple of other minor sites, those are very low traffic, so most of that is this blog.) These days, Flickr also has traffic stats. The photos you see on this site are mostly hosted on my Flickr account, which now registers over a million page views (comprising views to photos, photostream, sets, and collections) since I opened the account in September of 2004. (. . . plus another half-million and change views of photos in Typepad photo albums which are not clocked by Sitemeter.)

Over the past year, my blog seems to have averaged about 12,000 visits and 18,000 page views a month.