We now have data from over 40k bloggers and 8k advertisers to prove the naysayers wrong. The truth is that not only do people click on sponsored posts, on average they click through at a higher rate than any other media I am aware of. 10.545% average CTR to be exact (this is an average over all opportunities, obviously some will be much higher and some will be much lower).
My experience in buying Google AdWords is to expect an average of somewhere between .5-1.5% CTR. Sure, I have had keyword campaigns that might have hit as high as 5% or 6% in extreme cases (like buying the keyword "payperpost"), but that is few and far between. I also know that a good campaign on MySpace might deliver a .05% CTR and that other campaigns I have run through Adbrite and similar media networks deliver a lower CTR than search marketing in my experience.
I've been running websites for the last fifteen years. Let me tell you, it's damn hard for an honest man to make a living doing it. The best results always came from some form of personal recommendation. Even then, it would be one or two percent. These results are astonishing, and I think payperpost has stumbled upon an entirely new phenomenon.
What we have is a combination of viral marketing and testimonial marketing, the two most powerful forms, working together in a new synergy due to the nature of blogging, blog networks and services such as del.icio.us stumbleupon, digg, furl and others. All of these things deliver results particular people are directly interested in, to a page that has a personal recommendation of the product or service. The likelihood of at least a "courtesy click" is very high.
But it goes the other way. Regular readers of a blog or it's feed will tend to have a very good idea of the writer's credibility. Now, it's hard to say what my credibility is with my readership (comments would help with that, folks, are you all mute?), but I stake a great deal on the value of my word. I won't talk something up for a mere five or ten bucks, nor will I take an assignment that would require that I say something I don't believe. I certainly won't pretend to have a valuable opinion when I don't. So the odds of the post itself being dug, stumbled or furled by readers goes up too.
Of course, there are cases where I admit that I'm guessing out loud, and this is one of them. A better than ten percent response is bizarre. Possibly some of this is due to the novelty of the format, and it may taper off as banner ads did. But my gut tells me that this is potentially more robust, and my head tells me that it's inherently more ethical. As a blogger, I much prefer it to keyword-driven models, because I get to choose what I associate with my name, and it's certainly paid me more than ANY advertising format would have at my traffic levels.
Ten point five four five percent click-through! I still have trouble wrapping my head around it. It's a marketer's wet dream, and with ratios like that, if they are stable, justifies rates that could really support mid-rank bloggers like myself.
That is the important part, not just from a personal standpoint, but from the standpoint of citizen journalism. It's not a format that will translate easily to corporate sites, it all depends on the integrity of the individual. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the next couple-few years, because I'd really love to see a few of us avoid being co-opted by big media ourselves.
tag: marketing, advertising models, blogs, blogging, problogging, pro bloggers