Interview: Henry Copeland, CEO, Founder of BlogAds: To Make Money At Blogging, Rein In Comments

imageBlogAds‘ CEO and founder Henry Copeland stirred up the audience at Wednesday’s Networked Journalism Summit with two points about blogs and advertising. First, he told attendees of the conference, which was organized by CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, that only “dozens” of the 1,500 sites he works with can can sustain their sites solely with ad revenues. Then, he said that the only blogs that attract significant brand advertising are those that can keep the ads separate from comments, which tend to make marketers uneasy with their unpredictability. Many felt that suppressing comments in order to garner ad revenue was antithetical to the foundation of blogging. After the session, Copeland and I discussed that, among other issues:

Making Blogs Safe For Ads: The appeal of blogs to marketers is their singular brand identity, making it possible to accurately target their ads. Copeland: “Advertisers say, ‘I know I can trust Blog X, but I also know that Blog X has 100,000 readers – and God knows what those 100,000 readers are going to say.’ It’s not me, it’s the advertisers who are saying this.” And so, BlogAds,which handles advertising for Perez Hilton, Cute Overload and DailyKos, offers to quarantine ads away from the comment pages. “If you look at Perez Hilton, there’s certain kinds of ads that can run on the front page where you can’t see comments. And then on pages where you can see comments, there are other kinds of ads. That is exactly what is occurring.” He praised Gawker publisher Nick Denton for maintaining a controlled environment around its sites’ various comment pages. For one thing, Gawker Media requires commenters to formally apply and those that break the rules can have their commenting privileges immediately revoked.

Still Better Than Before: As for being able to make a living by blogging, Copeland amended his earlier statement, saying that “less than 100” of the bloggers in his network can live off their blog’s ad revenue. “I think people expect too much… I’m disappointed by that number, on the one hand. But to have a whole lot of people making a living out of blogging – and they weren’t doing that five years ago – is a wonderful thing… and to a lot of people, an extra $200 a month makes a lot of difference.”

The audio of our conversation can be downloaded or streamed here. (MP3, 1.5MB)