Look! No ads on the blog!

Recently, someone asked me if I would like to put up some ads on this blog and earn some money. I said no. The person asked “why not?” For a few seconds, I was not sure how to reply. I went with a “well, I like my blog’s cleanliness as it is now and don’t want any banners to spoil the look.”

The question, however got me thinking about the much discussed topic of ads on blogs. I know how search monetization works, read about Payperpost and the usual ad banners. There is also the “bloggers’ endorsement” on various products and blog endlessly about them. So, my question is, should bloggers (1) put ad banners all over their blogs? and what are the motivations behind them? (2) endorse products or services and blog endlessly about them?

The following are views from 3 different blogger friends’ (Kevin, Jason and the(new)mediaslut) on the topic of advertising on blogs. Wish I had done it in iChat/ video style, but oh well, for now just read the straight forward Q&As:-

1) Do you have ads on your blog/s? What kind of ads?

MediaSlut: Yes. Put advertlets banner ads on it

Jason: I signed up to Nuffnang so I don’t get to choose the type of ads to put up. However, they did assure me that the ads put up will be ‘family friendly”

Kevin: Not that I know of… so no.

2) Do you think bloggers should endorse a company’s products / services and put ad banners on their blogs?

MediaSlut: If you are talking about banner ads from google and advertlets or nuffnang, the advertisers can be so random that you don’t know who it is. Sometimes the blogger don’t ever see the ad at all. If somebody from US visit the Singapore based blogger, the visitor might see a ad for the US. But because the blogger is Singapore based, he won’t see the ads at all.

But if you are talking about product endorsement, why not? If the blogger really likes the product and says he likes it, why not? So far, usually most bloggers will only endorse the product they really like. Those they don’t like, they will just reject it.

Kevin: As much as we genuinely do it through word of mouth, blogs shouldn’t
be any different. Just like in real life, going overboard with it
might mean losing friends (readers) …

Jason: …it is a win-win situation for both company and individual. Companies get write ups from a customer’s perspective and individual gets new toys. However, it could be a con as the individual may be pressured to write something nice about it to get more toys to endorse in the future.

3) As a blogger, do you think you will be pressurized to blog about
your “ad clients”?

Kevin: ... If you made a commitment, you’ll have to follow through. Otherwise I’d stay clear of advertising as much as possible since it might not be what I usually talk about on my blog.

MediaSlut: To be honest, most bloggers will be more than happy to blog about their advertisers. But they don’t just blog about the advertisers’ product.. Some do it by writing their own experience with the product, or issues regarding the product. But whether they will be critical of their sponsor’s product, I don’t think at the moment they will be.

This problem is similar to the print publications of media1.0. The culture here is not ready to accept criticism good or bad.

Blogs are, however, designed different than print magazine is that for every post, there is a comment field. So the advertisers should react to a critical post by engaging the blogger via comments, not threatening to withdraw ads.

Jason: Absolutely not, but I guess more on increasing my posts to get more unique visitors. However, after receiving money for the first
campaign, it really isn’t worth it… $2.88 for one week…yeech!!


4) Beside money, why do you think bloggers agree to endorse certain products or agree to put ads on their blogs?

MediaSlut: Most bloggers have day jobs, so money is a side income. If it is a product, say a mobile phone, and u let the blogger play with the phone and review it, they will be happy.

Kevin: They could endorse because they could simply like the product /
service. I find this more likely the case than putting up ads, which
is another thing altogether. Endorsing creates an emotional
attachment, advertising doesn’t (or perhaps fakes it).

This is an interesting topic and bigger issues, concerns, business models etc to look at so, I am happy to hear more thoughts from other bloggers. Meantime, the following few links are some other posts I picked up:-

One of my favourite posts on the topic – by Mitch Joel and Ed Lee

Mr Endoh’s post on why he is giving up nuffnang

Jason Kaneshiro’s interesting thoughts on choosing between advertising or readership for the blog

Yawns, next speaker please

I have no intention to blog today, I need to watch this addictive tv series but as I was glancing through my RSS feeds, I read my favourite author, David Meerman Scott’s really interesting blog post and thought I’ll share it here…

Titled “How to recruit great speakers for your conference (and avoid the terrible ones)” David wrote

In my experience, these awful speakers come in two main categories:

> Those who are chosen by conference organizers because they signed up as a “Platinum Sponsor.” These speakers assume they have the right to bore audiences because they paid for it.

> The second group are “big names” (such as a company CEO). Because these speakers are chosen for their brand value (“hey, he’s CEO of XYZ Company!”) instead of their ability to hold an audience with a compelling presentation, these speakers often suck big time. When one of these big names steps up to the podium, the audience is anticipating something extremely interesting. But then within five minutes of some inane nonsense about how their services work, half the crowd is playing blackberry. Ugh.

Over the years, I attended many conferences, events, summits etc and sat through alot alot alot of very very very boring presentations. If they are FREE,  well, then I guess I can forgive them (I usually got up after 10 minutes and try to excuse myself and go make some coffee outside the conference room and wait for the next speaker to start). For those conferences that I had to pay to sit in, I often feel totally cheated if the speakers were really bad!

As PR folks, we sometimes have to find speaking opportunities for our clients and David is also right to point out that, there will be times, some clients are given speaking time slots because they are big sponsors (but that does not make them great speakers).

David highlighted this interesting conference that asked its “potential speakers” to submit a short YouTube video on a topic that will inspire, and be relevant to the audience. Attendees get to vote who they want to listen to at the conference. The ones with most votes get invited with an expenses paid for trip and a speaking slot at the conference.

I totally love the idea! All conference / events organisers out there, NOTE PLS! Some form of “screening” will be great.

Usually out of a group of 10 speakers, 6 are crap, 2 have some interesting products (so, we just sat there to find out what’s new) and only 2 will be truly brilliant.

The success of a conference often lies in the quality of its speakers. I’ve sat through some really great presentations though and one of them was by Mitch Joel and the other speaker I totally adore is the person I listened to every week – Pastor Joseph Prince who is an amazing speaker!

Yahoo!! and Pressies!!

The recent weeks have been really great for me. Some close friends already know that I am joining Yahoo! in the next two months. I seldom blog about anything personal but I figured it’s a great news (for me at least) and I am really excited so I am sharing it here.

Please don’t send me many emails, IM messages or Facebook notes to ask about “insider news” about the company. Champagnes, whiskies, dark Goldiva chocolates are very welcomed though.

Today, I received a big gift box from my one of my dearest friends, Kevin who is currently still stuck in US with his phD program. The content of my gift: a huge book, Revolutionary Wealth, a real cool design magazine, GOOD (anniversary issue), a Sci-Fi series – The Triangle, a nice but very noisy musical card (it says, “you gotta sing the song that’s in your heart… and my song goes Yahooooooooo!!!!!) and a hilarious Elmo (it’s hilarious because it laughs funny when you press the tummy). Alright, no champagnes and chocolates but the thoughts count alot! Thank you, Kevin!

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Holiday with Bezurk!

I met Ross Veitch, Chief Product Officer and one of the co-founders of Bezurk at the PopOut 07 event in Singapore some weeks ago. Ross was one of the presenters that evening. I was really unwell that day and (sorry Ross), wasn’t paying attention to most part of the presentation. I vaguely remembered it being a travel search engine and the site looking cool.

Two weeks ago, Jonathan and I had to find a hotel in Singapore for him to stay in for 2 weeks as he was moving house and there was a transition period. After searching via Google for a long time for the right place with the right price, The MediaSlut reminded me that Bezurk can search for multiple results at one go.

That was when I first tried out the site and I must say, it is such a great experience that I am sharing it in this post (for the benefit of my girlfriends who are searching for holidays’ flight, hotels, packages, activities available in the countries they are visiting).

So, what exactly is Bezurk? In their own words:-

Bezurk is a travel search engine. Think of Bezurk as a price comparison website that helps you find the perfect flight, hotel, or travel package for your specific needs. Instead of having to trawl through many different travel sites, Bezurk provides the information you need to find your perfect travel purchase, be it airline tickets to Phuket, a hotel room for 2 in Bangkok, or activities you can experience while in Tokyo, all on a single site: Bezurk.com.

I am going to Shanghai in December for a short break, maybe to Thailand as well. So, I’ve been spending the last one week searching for flights, hotels and deals on Bezurk. Being a search engine, it does not sell me anything but link me to travel agents, hotels and suppliers to book directly. The user experience is definitely close to 5-stars!

Other bloggers and journalists have also been raving about the service and here’s Su Yuen who mirrored my thoughts:

Apart from just flights, their search engine caters to hotels and tour packages as well. What I particularly like is how detailed their filtering system is. You can filter your results by pricing, airline, hotel star-rating & etc. My MOST favourite filtering of all is “Features the hotel MUST have” which of course for me was the broadband Internet access. Too bad they couldn’t take this filtering a step further to “FREE broadband access”.

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I totally agree with Su Yuen’s review. Must-haves for me when I search for hotels, include swimming pool and Internet access. What is really cool about the “refine your search” column, it displays currency so that I don’t have to log on to another converter site to determine how much I have to pay in SGD and also the price range bar – way cool! The search results change and update as you refine your search. No wonder it was named one of the world’s hottest startups by Business 2.0. (Ross made a disclaimer during his presentation that they have nothing to do with the publication’s shut-down – funny!)

My good friend Walter has the following comment which I thought was valid to some extend:

…. the unfortunate thing is that it comes pretty late after a slew of many other similar travel/airline/hotel portals. Standing out from the competition will be a challenge unless it can offer something truly unique which the rest can’t. What I would like to see is a greater effort to simplify the entire experience and add a greater human touch to the entire encounter. This is what social media is all about anyway – humans conversing with each other and interacting in such a way that makes transactions enriching and fulfilling.

I didn’t think it was that complicated. And though the site is younger than the other portals, I see unique features and powerful engine that separate it from others. What I do agree is to have some form of human touch, get some conversation going and spread the good words about both the site and its advertisers/ partners.

Blog Action Day – Look Great Saving the Environment

Last month, I signed up at the Blog Action Day to join some 16000 over bloggers worldwide to blog about any environmental issue on the 15 October 2007. This definitely makes an interesting case study on an idea that uses the blogsphere and the social media tool to create awareness of a worthy initiative. The publicity it garners so far – all i can say is – brilliant!

Some top blogs such as the dailyblogtips and lifehacker faithfully posted tips, opinions, stories, videos about the environment. One of my favourite posts comes from Rohit Bhargava on 7 tips on eating differently to impact climate

A few months back, major departmental stores and retail places in Singapore also started to encourage consumers to go with reusable bags instead of the usual plastic bags. I collected a couple of them and tried my best to remind myself to bring them out on grocery trips.

Fashion designers and brands are also doing their part, designing bags that are reusable and environmental friendly as well. Here are some real cool (but expensive) ones – for those fashion savvy folks who want to look great while saving the environment.

Check out the Stella McCartney’s Environmental bag

Hermes Silky Pop bag, made of hand-wrought silk

And the famous Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” environmental shopping bag

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For those who are artistically inclined and want something that is uniquely yours, here’s a How-To: Make Your Own Reusable Bag!

On a side note, since we are on the topic of environmental issues, I am a supporter of the paperless office concept. Offices should all work towards that, it is possible – it takes discipline, digital tools and understanding.

Anyway, to the people behind BlogActionDay – WELL DONE! Really a great initiative and a great topic this year!

Save the “cheerleader”, save the world

Ok, maybe not so much saving the world, but here’s the story…

A very good friend of mine, Kevin Lim (usually known as theory.isthereason) who has been a great “cheerleader” in my life lately is currently a finalist for a blogging scholarship of USD$10,000.

He’s currently based in Buffalo, doing his PhD program. You can check out his very cool blog at:- http://theory.isthereason.com and the campaign video he shot of himself.

If he wins, he’ll be inviting friends to help him decide what to do with the money. He’s crowdsourcing for ideas for a worthy cause e.g. Saving Burma, Creative Commons, Space travel for all, etc) or to grow the capital (e.g. investing in a startup, high-yield savings account, etc).

So, it’s saving the world afterall (to some extend)!

To vote:
1. Go to http://urltea.com/1p1d
2. Pick “Kevin Lim” (bottom of the list)
3. Press the “Vote” button.

For Singaporeans, c’mon, support your fellow Singaporean with just a simple click. He’s up against some stiff competition and hey honestly, he is doing some real cool stuff. Just go check him out.

For my other blog friends who are reading this blog, do take a look and judge for yourself!

A decent event @ Popout! 2007

Being a professional PR person who spent a lot of my time organising big events, I must say the folks at The DigitalMovement (TDM) put together a decent event last Thursday evening. The success of an event often lies in the quality of its speakers and the audiences. The other element is what i called – “style”.

I can’t say there was alot of “style” at PopOut! (an event aimed at engaging the community, students, technopreneur, venture capitalist and startups interested in the web2.0 services) but there were definitely some good presenters and a bunch of “geeky” but fun and savvy audiences. The content was pretty good too – informative and some great insights into a few cool start-ups with inspiring stories and products to tell.

What wowed the crowd and ME was Herryanto Siatono, the creator of BookJetty. The simple fact that it was books related caught my attention. In fact, it was the reason why I decided to pop down to the event. I briefly mentioned BookJetty in one of my previous post when I was comparing social book sites and what is really cool about bookjetty is the SMS service that allows users to receive SMS about details of the book they are looking for in the libraries.

TheMediaSlut wrote a more detailed post about Herry’s points.

And I signed up at BookJetty this morning. I just have to keep updating my ever-growing booklists.

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The other presentation that I enjoyed was by Gen Kanai, director of marketing and partner relations, Mozilla Japan who gave a preview on Firefox 3.0 – way cool!

Check out some of the cool features at Claudia’s blog

Ross from Bezurk did a rather interesting presentation, giving quite a bit of insights and tips to entrepreneurs. I thought that was great, instead of just shouting your own products.

The other few presentations –ZopIM , Quaffs and Recruit.net, I didn’t really get what they were talking about. Perhaps I was not the target audience or maybe my anti-biotic pills were kicking in by then, making me really drowsy (yes, I was not feeling very well that night and spent the next whole day in bed with a fever).

Lastly, I did make some new friends at the event and caught up with some “old” ones. Said bye bye to Bjorn Lee (who had been my lunch “date” for a while) and now he is in Beijing, on a new job – awesome! Managed to meet up with new friends whom I chatted and blogged with online – Darryl Kang, Brian Koh and Coleman Yee. Nice to be able to put faces to the names.