Not all mommy bloggers get such high-profile gigs. The most common tactic for brands is sending out product samples in the hopes of a review. It's gotten so popular that the avalanche of offers has led some mom bloggers to create separate sites or sections dedicated to reviews. The benefits of brand attention can go up from there. Frito-Lay, looking for online buzz for its new line of snacks, last month flew mommy bloggers out to Los Angeles to meet Brooke Burke and preview its "Only in a woman's world" ad campaign. Disney in January took a group of mom bloggers on a trip to the Bahamas to showcase its cruise line.
Participants in both instances blogged about their trips and the brands.
"Nurturing relationships is one of the core values of a mom," said Maria Bailey, author of Mom 3.0 and CEO of BSM Media, which advises Disney and other brands on reaching moms online. "It's an inherent need of a mother to share information."
For mommy bloggers, just like for any independent content creator hooking up with brands, the question may come down to how much is too much. The Web is already debating the value of sponsored posts by top bloggers, with Google suggesting sites could be penalized in its search results because such posts are thinly disguised ads. Also, the Federal Trade Commission has suggested such integrations could be misleading. Vogelzang said MommyCast, in the past, had to push back on brands that wanted to script them.
"This is not just an infomercial for their products," she explained of their upcoming work with State Farm. "It needs to be a topic that, while it promotes the State Farm issues, is relevant to our audience."
If the direct ROI on mommy blogger word-of-mouth programs is not entirely clear, there is the risk of ending up on the wrong side of the buzz. The classic case: "Motrin Moms." The pain reliever's commercial depicting carrying babies as a fashion choice ignited an online storm last November among mommy bloggers on Twitter. The furor built over a single weekend to the point where Motrin pulled the ad and apologized. The lesson: mommy bloggers can scuttle your brand's best-laid plans.
The power some have accrued can be surprising. Three years ago, Hollywood talent agency Endeavor signed Vogelzang and Heninger, helping the duo move MommyCast from a popular audio podcast into video. They subsequently struck a deal with Media Rights Capital, the firm that brokered the Burger King-Seth MacFarlane deal that drew 37 million video views in a similar distribution deal with Google.
The MommyCast-State Farm videos should reach similar numbers, according to Alexandra Levy, director of branded entertainment at Google, thanks to MommyCast episodes already drawing 250,000 views and the reach of Google's network. "They have a huge install base of mommies," she said.