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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Friday, May 11, 2007


the long tail

posted by Aziz P. at Friday, May 11, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
at myDD, Chris Bowers talks about blogads as ameans for supporting progressive blogs. However, hos solution - that campaigns buy blogads on the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, is a self-limiting one. Anyone familiar with a Zipfian distribution can attest to the fact that there are as many eyeballs in the long tail of the progressive blogsphere as there are in the top tiers. One problem with the Liberal Blogads Advertising Network is that (given the minimum traffic requirements) it is heavily biased towards that top tier - which means that up to 50% of all progressive blog reader eyeballs are being ignored. Granted there is substantial overlap, but a small blog with a handful of ads is essentially sharing more of its real-estate with Blogads than Dailykos is.

The advantage of the big blogs is that the sheer volume of hits means that even with very low click through percentages, the number of clicks in absolute terms is high. However, I theorize that a Small Liberal Blog Ad Network would deliver a substantial fraction of that same clickthrough traffic in absolute terms, because the percentage of clickthroughs would be higher.

I dareesay that most of the local activist blogs, focusing on state level races primarily, dont have the traffic to qualify for the big blogad network. But were there a "small cap" network established for their benefit (say, traffic between 100 - 1000 readers a day), they'd deliver the eyeballs. It's worth a try to test this hypothesis, if someone wants to step up to teh plate and get it going (disclaimer: We have a newborn in our household and I am moving from Texas to Wisconsin in less than a month, so count me out for the next three months at least)

One other important subset of liberal blogs are those with very long histories, which are a magnet for Google-derived traffic. Take my aging blog, Nation Building, to which I rarely post nowadays. When I do post, it is lengthy essays and detail, and the list archives go back over 4 years (to the Dean Nation days), so I would estimate about 90% of my traffic comes via google referrals (try for example, Howard Dean - I'm still in the top ten). A similar process surely operates for any longstanding liberal blog with any substantial post archives, such as Shadow of the Hegemon or Legal Fiction, just to name two out of many, many. A casual internet user may well arrive at a progressive netroots site such as these via google or other search engine despite having never heard of Dailykos - and to be frank, old blogeys like ours probably have more Pagerank than DK on specific topics because we tend to be more focused, and beat our hobbyhorses on selected issues more consistently.

The upshot of this is that there are many eyeballs to be captured from the pool of non-netroots readers, which if course is vastly larger than the daily audience of the liberal blogsphere as a whole, let alone the top tier of blogs in the Liberal Blogad Network. Tapping into these "markets" of old hi-density archive blogs, and small fry local blogs, via new blogad networks tailored to them is a win-win situation across the board.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.