Understanding the BlogHer Ad Tier System: Part Two
Are you guys tired of this yet? (I am.) But we’re almost done. With the math part, anyway. (By the way, if you’re just learning that there are tiers in the BlogHer Ad Network now, you’re going to want to brush up on the issues raised in the first post on the topic here, then move on to the next post here, then go here, oh, and don’t forget about the last post here.)
Now, once I’m done with all the math and graphs, there’s going to be that inevitable “What now?” moment where everyone stands around wondering what we’re supposed to do with all of this information. Probably everyone is going to crave some kind of closure or acknowledgment from BlogHer. Maybe even people are hoping a “Ted, Just Admit It” kind of thing will happen. Except instead of Jane’s Addiction writing a song we will have Harry Connick, Jr. making an appearance at a conference, and he will crack jokes that manage to offend bloggers, loggers and lesbians in one fell swoop.
What I’m trying to say: do not expect BlogHer to comment on this beyond the clumsy tweets by Queen of Spain aimed at my head last weekend. Because as much as I am certain that this tier system is real, I am equally certain that there was some kind of email powwow begging people to STFU after that happened and that nobody from BlogHer plans to comment publicly on any of this unless compelled to by some kind of government entity like a court of law. Because what are they going to say?
Anyway, if you’re not yet convinced about there being tiers in the BlogHer Ad network yet, I’m hoping that this post will not only push you over the edge into believing me, but also show you how the tiers are not only based on traffic but also manipulated on various occasions to suit the ends of the BlogHer network. And after today, I’ll start giving you guys my unsolicited advice on what I think you should do about monetizing your blogs, based on various different hypothetical blog sizes, and various positions, and various different needs and considerations, different reasons for blogging, different approaches, etc. etc. etc.
Adding To The Pile: Mapping Tiers With Data From Other Bloggers
It’s graph time, kids!
The above graph maps percentages of unpaid ads served by BlogHer ad network members during November of 2009 versus March of 2010. I’ve used six different network members in this case to show the differences in the two months, and I think you can probably already see a pretty clear tier system emerging, but just in case you cannot identify it, let me help you out, and I’ll point out quarterly boundaries and ThePioneerWoman.com factor just for comparison as well. Please note that, when it’s an up quarter (in November, Quarter 4, the most lucrative quarter), everybody is more or less at the same point because even if they’re technically on different tiers, there are so many ads on the network at the time, and there is no Pioneer Woman factor yet, so everybody is serving ads at more or less the same rate with one notable exception (Blogger 5, who only had 12.5% unpaid ads in November of 2009, and this was because that blogger had a very large traffic spike that month for an outside reason not related to BlogHer tiers) That’s a distribution that you get with a standard-traffic based tier with a healthy ad inventory in an up quarter, from what I’ve gathered just looking at numbers in a very short period of time, and I’m not an expert, mind you.
Except. The problem with this distribution is when you look at the normal traffic for these blogs. Some of the tiers adhere to regular traffic patterns. For example, when you move into the post-PW period, Blogs 4 and 6 remain in the same tier, as they should, because they are blogs in similar traffic range. The same can be said for blogs 1 and 2. Those two ranges stick with what is expected, so the tier system is giving an unfair advantage to higher trafficked sites, but at least we can see the logic behind it. Things get murkier when we look at sites 3 and 5, and juxtapose them with my stats in particular. Both of those sites have traffic that should be on the same tier with each other, AND with my site, roughly, for that period, because we all have about the same traffic in pageviews per month. So let’s put ABDPBT on a graph with all the other sites as a comparison.
What’s apparent from the above graph is not only the fact that I’m not tiering with other sites in my traffic group, but that I’m tiering with sites way above my traffic group. Why? Well, as I said in the last post, I wrote a post about the whole traffic brouhaha post PW and I noticed that I had more paid ads all of a sudden. I suspect this is why I started tiering away from my traffic group. My site gets more attention, I get more paid ads, it’s that simple. What’s more difficult to understand (and more disturbing) are why the other ones in my traffic group not only don’t match me but don’t match each other. Now, Blogger 5 is an interesting case that I cannot speculate on too much here in the interest of maintaining confidentiality, but suffice to say that that blogger had a traffic spike that might have been interpreted by BlogHer as “unusual” (that was when Google was rolling out its “Caffeine” system, and I had the Gaga incident with the crashed servers, and search engine traffic all over the web was kind of crazy that month) and therefore the blog might have been bumped up a tier only temporarily and then bumped back down very quickly. It’s very hard to say. I’m going to just leave that blog’s tier movement alone because I just don’t have enough data to even speculate on its movement.
What about Blogger 3? Based on traffic alone, Blogger 3 and I should be in the same tier, and in November, we were in the same tier. But then some how in between November and March I got moved up with much higher traffic sites by writing some very high profile posts and Blogger 3 got moved down. Waaaay down. Why? Well, that’s what I’m working on for the next post, kids.
(I know, it’s starting to sound like a soap opera, I swear it’s going to be over soon, just bear with me . . .)
Hey everybody, we’ve got a new featured blogger ad up and running! Please check out Becky’s ad for Suburban Matron in the sidebar (another gorgeous one, you guys are really coming up with awesome logos and ads!), and visit her blog ASAP! If you’d like to participate in the ABDPBT Featured Bloggers Program, please email me and I’ll put you on the waiting list.