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Bud.tv Blogger Bid Faces Uphill Climb Brewer

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CHICAGO Having endured months of bad publicity about its Bud.tv venture, Anheuser-Busch is turning to some of the people who help- ed fuel the negativity to aid in the site's overhaul: bloggers.

"We need to build up more conversation beyond the negative [talk] of, 'You can't get in because of age verification,'" said Jim Schumacker, vp, digital entertainment and branded content at A-B. "The more we're able to converse with bloggers online, the more we're going to be able to change" the perceptions.

The St. Louis brewer has enlisted New Media Strategies to reach out to bloggers and make them aware of Bud.tv content, Schumacker said. For example, the agency might contact Nascar blogs when video on Dale Earnhardt Jr. is posted.

But blogger relations is a tricky art, and Bud.tv, which is difficult to enter and operates as a centralized hub whose content is wedded to the site, faces specific problems in the blog world. "[Its] structure is antithetical to the blogger ethos, which values open access and transparency," said Rob Key, CEO of Converseon, an independent social media communications shop. "If it's just the same approach in new packaging, they're going to have a hard time changing the minds of the really influential bloggers."

Launched during the Super Bowl, Bud.tv is among the most ambitious efforts by an advertiser to create a branded-entertainment destination. Other problems include content that failed to connect with viewers. The site lacks a "wow factor," as Schumacker put it.

In an attempt to revive the site, A-B will focus on short videos (more in the 15- to 90-second range) and will partner with other sites to become an "aggregator of content," Schumacker said. The company is also looking to distribute Bud.tv content to other sites.

Only 150,000 users visited the site in March, according to comScore, a number that dropped too low to be measured in April.