Sponsored Conversations

Sponsored Conversations

Forrester Research : “Why You Should Pay Bloggers To Talk About Your Brand”

This morning Forrester Research released a new brief about “Sponsored Conversations” written by analyst Sean Corcoran with support from Josh Bernoff, Jeremiah K. Owyang, Thomas Cummings and Jennifer Wise. The briefing suggests that Advertisers should “Add Sponsored Conversations to Your Toolbox”, something that I strongly agree with as CEO of IZEA, the company that pioneered the space.

While compensating bloggers was considered taboo a few years ago there has been a paradigm shift in thinking over the past 12 months and this briefing underscores that change. Many major blogs participate in some form of sponsored conversation or sponsored blogging, and the economy is driving bloggers and advertisers to explore this option more everyday. Both advertisers and bloggers have come to the same conclusion – display ads don’t work in social media.

Sponsored Conversations

The team at Forrester did an excellent job on this briefing. A few takeaways that I agree with include:

  • Mandate disclosure
  • Ensure freedom of authenticity
  • Partner with relevant blogs
  • Don’t talk and then walk away

The last bullet point is probably the biggest hurdle for major corporations. Sponsored conversation can get conversations started, but it is up to the company to continue the conversation and develop relationships with their customers.

Sponsored Conversation Industry Born

Forrester says “A New Industry Is Born” and I agree… though I would say IZEA gave birth to it in 2006. Radical ideas take time to gain acceptance, something all of you entrepreneurs out there need to understand. The biggest ideas are often met with the loudest opposition.

My prediction : The sponsored conversation space will reach $1B within 5 years… The question is, how to measure it.

You should check out this related post by Jeremiah. There is also a post by Steve Rubel.

You can download a the Sponsored Conversations report from Forrester for free.

15 Comments

  • [...] Ted Murphy, the CEO of Izea, and primary instigator of paid blogging, shares his thoughts, when he first started this, disclosure was optional, and now they’re following a code of ethics. [...]

  • This is why it is so important that if you’re not blogging or using social media in ways that you can make a profit, you really need to jump on the band wagon.

    Otherwise, it’ll take off without you.

  • Remember when Google “rank spanked” a lot of us for our sponsored content and not using the “no-follow” tags? I don’t have the “I Got Spanked” tag on my blog anymore, but I still carry it in my heart, my own personal war wound.

  • sponsored conversation is both good and bad.

    funny that i should come across this now. i have just (less than a minute ago) read a local south african blog where the blogger was contacted by the owner of a coffee shop franchise who have now opened another eating/drinking place (note blogger was contacted by owner). The blogger then checked out the owner’s eating joint and had nothing but praises. Now the fact that the owner contacted the blogger leaves me suspicious as to “realness” of the content of that blogpost. I would probably also sing your praises if you stuff me with Russian caviar and pink salmon, washed down with Dom Perignon..

    since blogging is pretty much a “crime of passion”, not much remuneration is derived from doing it and sponsored conversation does a helluva lotta good in balancing the scales there.

    at the same time it opens the door for “he who pays more gets more ink”, meaning blogging (NOT bloggers) risks losing credibility as one of the most credible marketing voices in the “big conversation”.

  • [...] Today Forrester released a research brief that advises marketers to pay bloggers to post about their products. They do note that there should always be transparency. [...]

  • Sponsored Conversations: Another IZEA Innovation…

    The report, entitled “Add Sponsored Conversations to Your Toolbox: Why You Should Pay Bloggers to Talk About Your Brand” discussed pros and cons of sponsoring bloggers, and shared some key components of successful campaigns: 1) Disclosure, 2) Authent…

  • It seems as though this is just an invitation to get spanked by Google again. I’d be interested to see the developments as they unfold and Google’s opinion on this study.

  • Ted Murphy says:

    @Trisha Lyn Fawver:
    Use No-Follow as mandated in SocialSpark if you are concerned about Google.

  • [...] enough, the man behind the KMart campaign, Ted Murphy, has his own blog post on the Forrester study : While compensating bloggers was considered taboo a [...]

  • [...] enough, the man behind the KMart campaign, Ted Murphy, has his own blog post on the Forrester study : While compensating bloggers was considered taboo a [...]

  • [...] out the recent KMart campaign. To be fair, Ted Murphy (creator of the KMart campaign) also has a response on the subject of sponsored [...]

  • Chris Miller says:

    Sounds good but wish I could learn how to spend some money on social marketing. SocialSpark, PayPerPost, what’s what? I have $200 sitting there some place… not sure how to use it. I wanted to move $5000 / month away from google and into social marketing but Izea can’t tell me how to do that. I look forward to the day.

  • Paul Chaney says:

    Ted, I want to share here a comment I left on Jeremiah’s post about making sponsored conversations work. Hope you don’t mind the duplication:

    I’ve staunchly opposed the idea of “sponsored conversations” for years. I believe that editorial and advertorial should be distant relatives, if related at all.

    I know this form of “journalism” pervades every type of media, so it’s not surprising that it has crept (or leapt) into new media as well.

    Above all, however, I’m a pragmatist and realize that, like it or not, this new business model is not going away. Given that, I believe its incumbent upon those of us who cherish the dignity of this medium to come together and create an ethical standard by which we all can abide.

    As you well know, blogger ethics been a topic of conversation for years, one that’s been met with equal shares of derision and ridicule by many.

    We’ve feigned the notion that new media is a territory that exists outside the realm of governance, one where each person does what is right in his own eyes. Given that new media is becoming more and more mainstream, that argument is archaic.

    I propose one of two tactics:

    1. A workgroup be formed sponsored by an objective third-party which does the grunt work of creating such a standard.

    or more preferably

    2. A summit be convened consisting of all the major players who would have a vested interest in the outcome.

    As president of the International Blogging and New Media Association (IBNMA), I would have great interest in offering our organization to serve the role as sponsor. I think we are ideally-suited for a number of reasons, not the least of which is our only interest is in pursuing that which is best for the social media “industry” as a whole. We take no official position on this matter, so our judgment as an organization is not swayed in either direction.

    Alternatively, I could see both IBNMA and Social Media Club serving in joint partnership, and maybe some other entities as well (Blog Council, SNCR for example.)

    I also suggest that BlogWorld and New Media Expo be the venue where such a summit takes place. A day could be set aside in advance of BWE proper.

    The bottom line: It’s time we come together and do the hard work of ensuring that transparency and authenticity, which, by many, are now considered nothing more than cliches, continue to be the chief cornerstones upon which the social media enterprise is built.

    I truly appreciate the role that Forrester has played in shedding light on this issue. Now, let’s go the next mile by convening a summit or forming a workgroup. Frankly, I prefer the former and believe that the latter would follow in due course.

    ***************
    Ted, I’d be very interested in your response to my suggestion. It’s my fervent hope you would feel similarly. It’s time to put this issue to rest, once and for all. (

  • [...] program does not necessarily demand forum participation thereafter, though they encourage it with a full disclosure of the participation.  However, chances are in many cases that you were already saying such nice [...]

  • [...] Forrester Research: Why You Should Pay Bloggers To Talk About Your Brand [...]

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