As someone who designed his first website with little to no HTML knowledge and a copy of Dreamweaver that was required for an undergraduate class many years ago, WordPress had a profound impact on how I understood website architecture and what was possible without in-depth familiarity with databases and PHP. I knew how to fiddle with a theme on my Blogger account to change banners, colors and column widths, but WordPress caused me to see content in a much different way. I’ve never used Google AdWords or Amazon ads personally, but I’m aware of how they work, and I generally perceive them as having had a similar impact on rookie desktop publishers’ access to advertising dollars (even on a micro level).
A new deal between Federated Media and WordPress.com that was announced this week made me curious about what kind of potential there is to approach that ad space on a different level, as well as how their partnership could affect how casual-to-intermediate-level desktop writers and publishers understand themselves and the content they are providing. I’ve heard accounts from blogger acquaintances of Google revoking AdWords privileges because of clearly articulated in-content calls for advertisement clicking (the idea being that such urges artificially affect reader behavior). This new deal would create a line of communication between anyone blogging on WordPress.com (not bloggers like me who have their content hosted elsewhere) and Federated Media, allowing three distinct activities to take place:
1) Advertisers will be able to pool curated content from bloggers. If I understand this correctly, it would mean that essentially brands would be able to appropriate praise and reviews from WordPressers, just as Facebook funnels Likes and Share activity out to its own advertisers and FB Page occupiers. 2) Bloggers will be given the opportunity to contribute “sponsored” posts. I’m not sure what the incentives will be, but this basically sounds like advertorial-for-hire work. 3) Brands will be able to target conversations. I’m the least clear on what this means, but it sounds like WordPress.com will someone be letting advertisers view actionable opportunities in terms of context and tone of discussions taking place in their network.
I’ll be anxious to see how sponsored posts appear and are tagged, as well as how such content gets viewed by Google in its search rankings. I would assume that if sponsorship could be identified, sponsored posts would lose a little value juice, but this is all hypothetical until the new initiative unrolls.
WordPress.com claims to have more than 25 million hosted sites, though. I don’t what their combined traffic numbers are, but I’d be eager to see those numbers as well.
The big difference here is the way advertisements and content will be related. Previously, AdWords and Skimlinks advertising provided relatively un-intrusive, fly-on-the-webpage-style placement to sifon clicks. Now, however, content-makers are going to have incentives to write on specific topics and cater to ad clients. Is there going to be scalable compensation that makes it worthwhile for bloggers to spend an extra 30 minutes cranking out an advertorial post? Are there going to be clear opt-in/opt-out agreements? The whole deal definitely seems like something that will be worth following.