Monday, November 21, 2005

Media deals push blogs into the mainstream

Media deals push blogs into the mainstream

By Aline van Duyn in New York

Financial Times

Updated: 2:40 a.m. ET Nov. 19, 2005


News junkies have been doing it for years. As well as scouring news websites – ranging from the BBC to CNN to Yahoo– blogs covering specific sectors or with comments from respected commentators are a regular part of their news diet.

Now, blogs are becoming available to a larger audience, thanks to a growing number of deals between bloggers and the mainstream media, of which many bloggers have traditionally been dismissive.

Andrew Sullivan, whose commentary on the Daily Dish has become required reading for many in the last five years, announced this week he would begin posting his blog on

A day later Yahoo said it was expanding its blog content, adding items from Gawker Media's blog empire. Last month, AOL spent a reported $25m to buy Weblogs, which owns about 85 blogs covering parenting, travel and other activities.

"The things that have changed are all on the backend," said Jason Calacanis, chief executive of Weblogs.

"With AOL's support we can hire more bloggers, promote the blogs, sell more advertising and ultimately pay bloggers more money. That's the basic concept behind the deals: scaling the business."

The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused.Blogs, which are distributed on the internet and bypass the editing and distribution controls associated with traditional media, have grown on the back of strong appetite for alternative views. The number of blogs is estimated to be in the tens of millions, but many of these are in the form of teenagers' personal diaries which have limited appeal for a broader audience.

The subset of blogs that media and internet content companies are eyeing are those that have developed some credibility, either in the quality of their advice and tips or the quality of their views and analysis.

"These blogs offer a different and valuable perspective and are increasingly regarded as important to get a full picture of what is going on," said Neal Goldman, chief executive of Inform, which searches and sorts news and blog content side by side. "There is a real desire from consumers to integrate the news and blogs."

Already, blogs have started to attract advertising on the back of their growing audiences. Blog advertising grew strongly during last year's US presidential election, when blogs became an important campaigning tool. Since then, blog campaigns have become a part of many corporate ad campaigns, including most recently from Budget and Nokia.

Henry Copeland, director of, said blog advertising volumes had increased by 60 per cent in the past six months alone. The rapid growth in internet advertising and the resultant lack of inventory on the most popular websites, is an important factor behind recent deals. An issue for bloggers is how to preserve their identity as being different to the "mainstream media" they are doing deals with. So far, the deals have been centred around the use of content and sharing revenues from advertising.

According to Mr Calacanis, readers of his blogs have not responded to the AOL deal because they have not noticed – it has not changed anything.

"The blogosphere is real, and it can be really harsh on fakes . so, if you're a phoney you're going to get your bell rung," he says.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

© 2005




buzz this