Blog Post

TBD Drops Its Ad Network; Will Seek Other Ways Of Paying Partner Sites

Washington DC-area hyperlocal news site TBD will no longer be serving ads on its partner blogs’ pages and websites, the company announced late Tuesday. In a blog item (via Jeff Jarvis) posted by Steve Buttry, the director of Community Engagement, TBD said the interest from advertisers didn’t take off as effectively as the traffic and linking relationship did. It hopes to come up with another revenue solution for its 200 community partners sometime in the next few months.

It’s probably a coincidence, but the announcement that the ad network failed to meet TBD’s needs comes less than a month after founding GM Jim Brady resigned from the company in a dispute over the direction of the site network with Publisher Robert Allbritton. At the time, it was implied that Allbritton wanted to emphasize more original content over aggregation, suggesting that Brady didn’t agree. Brady dismissed that charge, saying he was “both pro-aggregation and pro-content… No need for a Sophie’s choice.”

The site network had only launched this past summer with a heavy reliance on its initial 120 local blogs. The idea was that these neighborhood sites would be able to supply an ample amount of news coverage, way beyond the depth of the Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) and other local outlets. In turn, that was supposed to attract the sort of small businesses that don’t typically advertise in print or on TV, while offering marketers a chance to target consumers more tightly. But apparently, it didn’t work out that way, or in Jarvis’ view, that model wasn’t given much of a chance to succeed.

In response to Jarvis’ tweets, Jeff Sonderman, senior community host for TBD, wrote that, in essence, “Bloggers were running free house ads for us while we figure it out, so we said, take down the ad for now… We’re paying bloggers a bonus we didn’t have to pay.”

2 Responses to “TBD Drops Its Ad Network; Will Seek Other Ways Of Paying Partner Sites”

  1. nick denton is laughing at this type of insanity. the gawker chief literally spells out his profitable revenue strategy on a regular basis. no one from traditional media, academia or hyper-local seem to notice. duh.

  2. mikeorren

    It’s unfortunate that TBD gave something to their content partners and then took it away — At Pegasus News, we have a similarly large group of content partners and run fulltext (video, etc.) of selected items instead of summaries.

    I cringed a bit from the beginning when I saw TBD planned to kick off an ad network right away. We took a different tack from the beginnings of our program, in 2006. A new brand in a local market isn’t likely to have a lot of advertising to share, so we thought it disingenuous to make that a part of our offering to partners. Instead, we focus on the larger audience we can bring to key posts and, in some cases, our ability to help a partner get access.

    Most of the sorts of sites that we (and to mine eyes, TBD) have as content partners aren’t in this primarily for the money. It would have been better to start with a primary focus on the other benefits and then add the ad network down the road, once there’s something to network. It’s hard to take something away.

    That said, I applaud their experimentation. We all need to learn from as many different models as possible.