b5Media: From blog network to online media company

WoJeremy Wrightuld you take a 60% reduction in your salary in order to keep your company alive? The President of b5media, Jeremy Wright, would – and has.

In the first heady days of blogging, every conference and gathering of bloggers would echo the question: “How do I monetize my blog?” One answer was to join a blog network – harnessing the power of a single advertising sales team to place ads on your blog along with other blogs in the network.

Since its launch in September 2005, b5Media has been a pioneer in testing and reshaping the blog network model.  In its four year life (so far), it has evolved substantially – evolved in terms of what it presents, its authors, how it compensates bloggers and how it packages and sells the advertising opportunities. In February of this year, b5media evolved further, consolidating many of its 300 individual blogs into a handful of portals focused on specific subjects.

There is no doubt that b5media has attracted viewers. Each month, b5media receives 30 million page views from 10 million unique visitors.

Now, however, the recession is hitting advertising budgets and advertising sales – hard. Traditional media has been first to take a hit. We`ve seen newspapers disappear and television stations close. But online media outlets have not escaped. And b5media has been hit as hard as anyone.ThirdTuesdayToronto

So, Jeremy and his management team developed a survival plan. Jeremy took a salary cut to just above minimum wage. Other senior executives left the company. All in the name of preserving the core publishing platform to grow again when post-recession budgets are restored.

That takes guts. And it takes belief in a vision – a vision not only for a company but for the entire sector.

So, what is that vision and belief that caused Jeremy Wright and his executive team to choose the course they did? Well, come to the next Third Tuesday Toronto to find out. Jeremy will be in the Third Tuesday Toronto spotlight next week. He’ll talk about the survival plan he developed and what he hopes the future will bring for b5media, blogging and online advertising.

You can register online to attend Third Tuesday with Jeremy Wright. I hope to see you there.

And a big thank you to CNW Group, whose sponsorship for Third Tuesday has been rock solid – even through the recession.

UPDATE: We reached our room capacity only 2 hours and 10 minutes after announcing Jeremy’s appearance. Happily, the Berkeley Heritage Event Venue was willing to put us in their larger space. So, we’ve increased the number of spaces for the event.

  • Step out of the echo chamber for a second and you have the same guy who had the wrong idea for four years being lauded for a ‘survival plan’. I’m sure he’s a great guy and very bright, but so was Rick Wagoner. He had a vision too.

    Online advertising revenues are forecast to be down roughly 10% this year. Is B5 that badly hit by a 10% cut? What is more likely is that B5s burn rate finally exceeded its optimism.

    I know I sound cranky, but the relentless spinning bothers me. Where’s the mention of the $2 million (USD) in funding? http://gawker.com/205524/tech/b5media/b5media-doesnt-deserve-2-million.

    @copywryter

  • Woof. Stafford. Your view seems to be pretty harsh. I hope that you will attend the Third Tuesday and put your question/view directly to Jeremy. Knowing him, I’m sure he’ll be keen to respond.

  • joe, i don’t think that this is a harsh line of questioning. in fact, i wish that trevor’s question had been asked and addressed at TTT – at least, i didn’t see it being asked on the twitter stream.

    if a previous darling of the web2.0 revolution has burned through $2m US in funding and can’t pay its “corporate” office more than minimum wage, this is something the PR and marketing industry needs to pay attention to.

    if i’m buying ads, sometimes the CPM rates my clients’ internal metrics demand are only available if you buy months or a year in advance: does this news jeopardize this ad spend? i.e. if i buy b5 ads (or any blog network ads) a year or so in advance, is this investment safe? is there even any value in it?

    unfortunately, this is the same problem our clients are facing in the traditional media space: will traditional magazines and media outlets be around long enough to see the results of a media buy that is bought far enough in advance to see a significant discount?

    ed

  • My gut says it wasn’t asked because it didn’t need to be asked. We talked about why the cut happened, talked about the health of the company and talked about the online advertising industry as a whole. So each portion of the question was asked and answered individually.

    As far as buying ads a year out? That’d be news to most media buyers, who operate on quarterly budgets from their clients. We’ve never had a client buy more than 6 months out. And those purchases are insured, so the client is covered (just like any major media organization).

    Nobody dodged any questions Ed. Sometimes people just don’t get the answers they were hoping for because the answers aren’t as exciting as they assume.

    After all, if Trevor (or anyone else) has tough questions, it’s not like I”m that hard to find!

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