I noticed that Hitwise — the company which taps massive amounts of ISP data to provide deep and daily analytics on Web-site visits, searching behaviors, and visitor segmentation — is now advertising on blogs, or at least in feed networks. (Below is a screen shot of my Bloglines dashboard.) As far as I’ve noticed, Hitwise is the first market-research or -information company to do this.
I’m curious what ROI they’re receiving on this tactic, or even how they’re calculating ROI. I’ve led marketing for a number of market-research and information companies, but have failed to extract, or at least codify, much value from paid sponsorships or advertising. Market-research and information companies — particularly ones with a good story to tell — typically don’t need the help of paid media placements to build awareness or tell their story. Good stories and information tend to travel on their own and resonate with relevant stakeholders.
In Hitwise’s case, my hunch is that advertising on blogs or feed networks has more value in demonstrating brand innovation and experimentation in emerging channels, versus actual return in the form of awareness or direct response. In other words, the observable act is what’s most important.
Of course, my assumption in this single case is certainly not a rule. And the value and opportunities of advertising on blogs and emerging social-media ad platforms are much greater, if not yet fully determined or proven.
Disclosure: I consulted to Hitwise for nearly two years as the company was establishing itself in the U.S. Many employees are former colleagues and friends.