I just heard about BlogRush via Yaro Starak and after watching their intro video, I signed up.
What is BlogRush? Well, if you’ve been on the Internet for a long time, you might remember banner exchanges… they were very popular a few years back, and the concept is pretty much the same: you advertise other sites, in exchange for your site being advertised.
BlogRush takes the traditional model and applies it to blogs. Now the sites you advertise are blogs, and your blog is advertised. Big deal, right? After all, you could always have put your blog in a traditional exchange.
Well, that’s where the beauty of the blog-specific model begins to show itself. Because pretty much all blogs use RSS feed technology behind the scenes (whether you know it or not ), BlogRush uses your blog’s feed to advertise specific posts. They also use a combination of broad categories (you pick which one your blog fits in when you add a blog) and some proprietary methods for displaying the posts that are most relevant to your readers.
To me, that’s a big benefit. I’m not interested in showing generic ads for everything under the sun–that’s just not a benefit to my readers. But if I give them a tool to find more interesting posts on topics they care about, that’s a win-win.
One of the other ways BlogRush is shaking up the old model a bit is by using a more generous “ratio.” You see, many traditional exchanges set it up so that your ad is shown every time you show two ads on your site; this is a 1:2 ratio. They do this because it leaves the exchange service with extra slots, which they can use to advertise the network or sell to other advertisers.
If BlogRush didn’t do something along those lines, I’d be nervous; I don’t like it when there’s no discernable business model for making money. They do follow the ratio system, but they do it a little differently: they structure it based on referrals and tiers.
I’ll get back to that in a second, but it brings up another interesting point about the BlogRush service: your blog is advertised when it shows advertisements, but also when someone else you refer to the service shows ads. For example, I signed up using Yaro Starak’s special link, so I’m counted as his referral. When I use the service on one of my blogs to show ads, not only will my ad be shown somewhere else, but Yaro will also get an ad displayed. And if you sign up with my link, when you use the tool to display ads on your blog, you’ll get an ad displayed, I’ll get an ad displayed, and Yaro will get an ad displayed.
They can do this because each BlogRush box shows five blog posts (see example to the left). They’ve set up their system so that there’s a 1:1 ratio for your own blog, your referrals’ blogs, and their referral’s blogs. That means every time an ad is displayed on your blog, your referrals’ blogs, or their referrals’ blogs, your post is displayed somewhere else. That could really add up!
Beyond the first two levels of referrals, there’s also a 1:4 ratio for levels 3-6 and a 1:8 ratio for levels 7-10. That may not sound like much, but if you get an active user as one of your referrals who ends up getting a lot of people to sign up, you could end up with thousands of people in your 10 levels. And because the ratio isn’t always 1:1, that means that BlogRush is effectively keeping 10% of the ad spaces, which they can sell or use themselves–enough that they should grow to be a successful, reliable business, which is what I like to see.
Aside from the interesting business model, there is the question of effectiveness. Is this thing actually worth putting on your blog? Time will tell (I’ve put it on a couple of my blogs), but I think that it has real potential. It seems like it could be a very organic, beneficial way of getting traffic while providing good information to your readers.
One of the variables is where bloggers put it on their blogs. I personally think the best place for a tool like this is right at the end of a post, when the reader is prepared to move to something else; by putting it there, you’re offering a doorway right where they want one. So far, though, I’ve seen several blogs putting it in their sidebars or near the top of their posts. The sidebar is an okay place to put it (I’ve done that on the front page of one blog where it really doesn’t fit well in the posts themselves), but I don’t want to encourage my readers to leave before even reading my post by putting it near the top.
Because BlogRush is still in the launching process, and I think a little overwhelmed by the response, they’re still working on a few things. The most important of these things are the stats. I believe that when the stats are ready, they’ll show how many times your ad has been shown, how many ads you and your referrals have shown, etc. I also hope they’ll show clicks, because that would make it easier to determine whether you’re getting real traffic out of it (and that’s the whole point!).
If this sounds useful to you, I’d encourage you to sign up and play with it. Because it’s free, you don’t have much to lose (even time, because it’s pretty quick to sign up), and it could be a good source of traffic as it grows.