Problem: People are mentally blocking out ads on blogs. Do you ever look at those Google AdSense text ads? My brain knows their exact visual format and knows to ignore them. Why do I ignore them? Most times they aren’t relevant or I have no interest in whatever they are pushing — plus, I know they are ads.
Solution: You know what would make me actually view those text ads? If they were endorsed by bloggers I respected. When Fred Wilson (a daily read of mine) posts about a CD he’s loving or a new toy he’s playing with, I listen. And I would gladly share his endorsements with my readers — and likely share the endorsements of products/services by peers he respects with my readers.
My idea would cater to niches — so if your blog is all about automobiles, then all the ads from this network would either be auto-related or from respected peers of the blogger.
To make this entire idea really simple — as a blogger, I would endorse products, services, websites from an inventory of ads that advertisers are willing to pay to have displayed. Thus for example, I (as a blogger or simply a person in the overall social network) might see all the ads from Google AdSense and specify which of the products / services / companies (“ads”) I personally endorse/approve — then my avatar might appear next to that company’s actual text ad. And maybe I input a quick 1- or 2-liner that pops-up next to the actual ad when someone rolls-over the ad.
ALTERNATE OPTION OF THIS IDEA: I believe there to be a need for… a new Google AdSense / Yahoo Publisher Network / AdBrite competitor — one that allows me to recommend a product or service and an ad is created in my own words. Maybe the ad has my avatar and a mini image/photo of the product (or business/service logo).
Maybe as a blogger I wouldn’t write an ad or quick review in this proprietary network — maybe I’d submit a specific blog post of mine into the network and relate it to a specific product, service, or company. Although part of the point here is to direct a user to more information on purchasing or learning about the product or service — such as if I were recommending a book, you might be able to read my review and then go on to purchase the book. The blogger (whomever is recommending a product), publisher (whatever blog the ad was visible on), and facilitator (the company I’m suggesting you build that would manage distribution of all these ads) would then share in ad/affiliate revenues.
Thus, your ads would circulate on the websites of people that admire you or that are your friend. This business idea could potentially be an extension of MyBlogLog — because otherwise there’d have to be a social network system setup for this, where you would specify people you admire and that are your friends. They could then do the same — and ads would then start getting shared.
The company that manages all of this could then build all the ad/affiliate revenues and facilitate that entire process. So if I were recommending a CD, this company would figure out where users would be directed in order to purchase that CD (maybe BestBuy would pay a larger rev-share than Amazon.com for example).
In my opinion, the most effective text ads are the ones at the top of Gmail — they mix news stories in with ads; it’s a single ad that appears on a single line of text, and it’s right above the single subject lines of my emails. I have clicked quite a bit to either read a story or an ad.