Blog Networks: The game hasn't even started

There’s interesting talk afloat about blog networks these days. An interesting discussion is underway at “ProBlogger”:http://www.problogger.net/archives/2005/09/15/is-there-room-for-another-blog-network/ (read the comments) about the potential success or failure of the network model and whether or not there is room for more networks to become successful.

There is much talk of the *big 3*, and whether or not a new network can supplant one of them. This is, forgive me for saying, a very narrow way of looking at the situation.

Blogging is in its absolute infancy. There is no limit to the success that can be achieved over time. The potential audience is in the billions. To suggest that 3 players will dominate that is, well, I don’t have to say it.

Let’s look offline for a moment. Go to your local mega-book-store-cum-gift-shop, and you’ll find hundreds of magazines. A blog network is very much like a magazine. The money comes in from advertisers, and goes out to writers. There are magazines focussed on narrow topics, and magazines that talk to a wider audience. Magazines woo advertisers by delivering qualified eyeballs. Just like blog networks.

Taking this analogy one step further, we can see the role of the network owner as that of a magazine publisher. The publisher looks after design, advertising, management, promotion, etc etc. His role is very much like that of a “Blog Manager”:http://www.peterflaschner.com/index.php?id=218, a concept I coined a few weeks ago.

The definitive business model for publishing online has yet to be written. I suspect it will be many, many years before it is. The current magazine publishing business methods didn’t spring up overnight, but evolved over time. Blog networks will do the same. Success only ever comes from failure. So we’ll see many, many new faces before the dust has settled on this one.

My suspicion is that the ‘big3’ will become the ‘big50′. My gut tells me that networks will become more closely focussed around single topics, rather than trying to appeal to a mass audience. It’s much easier to sell advertising when you can deliver targeted readers. A network of car blogs for example will have an easier time landing GM ad dollars than a general mass market network. GM ad dollars are not insignificant. Again, one only needs to look at the newsstand for a glimpse of blog networks’ future.

The potential for the blog network doesn’t even exist yet. The world is a vast place – the work Scrivs and co are doing with Spanish blogs gives a tiny indication of the massive potential we’re only just starting to see. It’s pretty easy to get caught on the micro details of our little blogging world. Take a macro look though, and that where you’ll find the future.