San Francisco Chronicle sent a reporter to BlogHer on Saturday. The reporter took note of the growing corporate influence on writers and their blogs.
If the word “bloggers” conjures a romantic image — of fiercely independent writers, untouched by corporate influence — this may be the convention where that image begins to die. It also may be the convention where the divide between writers who want to pay rent through their trade and those who prefer to rant commercial-free becomes apparent. This year, BlogHer, billed as the largest national gathering of female bloggers with 750 attendees, has developed the BlogHer Ad Network to enable corporations and online writers form business relationships.
According to Elisa Camahort, one of three BlogHer co-founders, “We’re the bridge between companies and these amplified influencers.” Amplified influencers is Camahort’s term for popular bloggers, people who might be able to shift marketplace opinion about products with a few kind words — or harsh ones — at the stroke of the “enter” key.
At the convention, brand-name companies lined up to greet their potential business partners. The lunch break was sponsored by Weight Watchers. Funding for the keynote seminar was provided by Johnson & Johnson, which also used the event to launch momver sations.com, an upcoming “virtual park bench” for motherly blogs. And the sex talk forum was sponsored by Elexa, Trojan’s line of “sexual well-being products created from a woman’s perspective.”
In the past, companies that dared place their brand on a writer’s site typically picked an A-list blogger such as Daily Kos, and risked the wisecracks in return for the high volume of page views.
But now, through niche ad networks like BlogHer, a company can purchase a “parenting bundle” and get placement on three dozen blogs written by mothers.