Six Apart Gets Into Ad Net Game

NEW YORK Blog infrastructure provider Six Apart is looking to transform its business from technology into design, services and advertising.
The company is launching an ad network for the users of its TypePad and Movable Type blogging software to run ad campaigns on their sites. The network will concentrate on luring brand advertisers to smaller, targeted sites.
The approach is similar to FM Publishing’s, but Six Apart plans to offer advertisers broader campaigns that run on more sites than FM, which represents about 150 top blogging destinations. Other companies building blog ad networks include Glam, BlogAds and Technorati.
“We want to focus on folks who are influential in some way,” said Chris Alden, Six Apart’s CEO. “We’re going to allow a much broader number of bloggers than the other high-end advertising services.”
The idea is to give bloggers outside the 200 or so top-read sites an option other than more run-of-the-mill networks like Google AdSense, he said. Bloggers will be able to choose which campaigns they run on their site.
Six Apart already runs ad campaigns on its Vox social network and LiveJournal blogging site. It has worked with brands like HP, MSN and Universal Studios. In those cases, it has sought to go beyond standard banner placements to include things like sponsored communities or branded blog themes.
“Our primary focus is on brand advertisers and look to bridge the gap with their audiences,” said David Tokheim, a former executive with Fox Interactive Media, who will lead Six Apart’s ad services as part of a new business unit for the company.
It will help recruit bloggers to the network. Six Apart said it has held discussions with its users to participate, but does not have any sites to announce.
The desire of advertisers to reach niche audiences has fueled the rise of networks to link them to small sites. FM Publishing earlier this month closed a round of $50 million in venture funding to build out its services.
Six Apart has also purchased Apperceptive, a social media creative shop in New York. It will offer bloggers services like site design and search optimization.
“Blogging has really grown in the last five or six years,” said Alden. “We’ve seen in many cases it’s a hobby, but it’s become a career for many people.”