_Tim Shore is the publisher of “blogTO”:http://www.blogto.com, a city blog focused on Toronto culture, recently named by Forbes Magazine as “Best of the Web”:http://www.forbes.com/bow/b2c/category.jhtml?id=323. In his day job, he works for the interactive arm of a Toronto-based ad agency. (Tim is front right along with blogTO Managing Editor Tanja-Tiziana Burdi (left) and contributors Christine Miguel and Paul Fler. Photo by Sabrina Cariati.)_
*One Degree: What inspired you to start blogTO.com?*
I think there was both an opportunity and a need. The opportunity was that there was this great new low-cost publishing platform called a blog (not to mention a great way to experience the Internet). On the need side, there was a lack of good web sites which focused on Toronto culture. There seemed to be general consensus that “toronto.com”:http://www.toronto.com was garbage and that the rest of the media players were treating online as an afterthought.
That combined with my passion for the city and the fact that readership and ad dollars continue to migrate online, it was a no brainer.
*One Degree: Just like One Degree, BlogTO depends on a broad spectrum of contributors. I’m curious about your opinions on whether group blogs should emphasize the individual or the group. How do you balance the personality and talents of the various contributors with the need to present a somewhat consistent and/or authoritative voice to readers – or do you?*
blogTO benefits from having a variety of contributors who can bring different perspectives and coverage to the blog. We’re proud that we have a diverse collective of bloggers who are plugged-in to different communities in the city. We strive to present content in a consistent way, probably best achieved through editorial and formatting guidelines like you’d find at any publication. At the same time, we want to promote the individuals and allow them to gain their own following. So far, we’ve done this by publishing blogger-specific RSS feeds and profiling everyone on the “about page”:http://www.blogto.com/about.
*One Degree: Right now your ad model seems to be strictly “Google AdSense”:https://www.google.com/adsense ads. Are you planning on adding any other revenue opportunities or will AdSense justify the effort of maintaining the site?*
AdSense is definitely not enough to sustain us. You hear about blog networks like “Weblogs Inc.”:http://www.weblogsinc.com that bring in a few grand through AdSense a day. While impressive, I’m sure “Jason Calacanis”:http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com would admit it’s still a far cry from the dollars they need to pay their bloggers and cover overhead. We’re doing well with AdSense. Our click-through rates are above “industry average” – probably in part due to the prominent placement of our ads.
Although currently only running AdSense, we’re set up to offer CPM buys of Flash and GIF ads as well. In fact, we have a pretty slick ad delivery system that allows us to geo-target, frequency-cap, time-deliver and a lot of other neat tricks. We’ve been using this on occasion to run some pro-bono ads or promotions on the blog, but the plan is to offer this to advertisers. We haven’t been proactive trying to sell ad space to date, mainly because our current focus is to grow our audience and improve the blog’s content and functionality.
In addition to banners, we’re going to be offering podcast sponsorship, RSS ads and contests. In fact, we’ve already run two contests – one for NBC Univeral and the other for Sumo Lounge.
*One Degree: You’ve been podcasting since February which makes you elder statesmen of this new channel. Any tips you or surprises you can share as you’ve added audio to your regular content offering?*
Podcasts continue to be among our most popular content. We’ve had a few different contributors podcasting for us, but we’re still not where we need or want to be. Part of our challenge has been finding a focus, figuring out how podcasts fit in to the rest of our editorial and consistently offering a quality product.
Starting in September, we’re going to be unveiling some changes to the blog, and one of those will be a revamped podcasting lineup. The podcasts will be longer (more like the lengths of, say, “Engadget”:http://www.engadget.com or “CBC Radio 3”:http://www.cbcradio3.com/), have a tighter focus, and better overall sound quality and production. In the next few weeks, I’ll be looking to find one or two advertisers to come on board as sponsors. We’ll see how that goes. MP3s and podcasts are still immature advertising vehicles. Not nearly as simple or proven as buying text or banner ads.
*One Degree: When will you be quitting your day jobs?*
As soon as we’re bought by “Yahoo!”:http://www.yahoo.com