Seattle Neighborhood Blog Ads

With the growing popularity of neighborhood blogs there is also a growing popularity in monetizing what for some is a hobby and for others is a full time gig.

As Urbnlivn, my Seattle condo blog, continues to suck hours of my week and continues to grow in traffic I too am turning to advertising to make blogging less of a chore and more like a paper route.

What’s frustrating is that their isn’t a Seattle neighborhood advertising network that connects local businesses with local blogs and handles the commerce and other aspects of this niche advertising segment.

Instead I’m left to visit a number of local blogs to try and determine local standards for ad size, placement and cost. I’m also struggling in to provide my second advertiser with a visually pleasing ad thinking that the effort isn’t really worth the $50.

Here’s my research so far on the Seattle neighborhood blog scene:

B Town Blog: 200px × 150 px and 728 px × 90 px. Starting at $50/month.

Capitol Hill Seattle: 468 px × 60 px, 160 x 240, 125 x 125. $3 to $10 CPM or $25/month

Seattle Bubble: 250px × 150px. $75 and $225 per month

West Seattle: Varies, but most around 160px × 160px. $0.60 CPM

And of course the standard really should be dictated by Google. 468px × 60 px, 120px × 600px, 160px × 600px, 200px × 200px, 250px × 250px, 300px × 250px, 336px × 280px.

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8 Responses to Seattle Neighborhood Blog Ads

  1. TR @ WSB says:

    Hi, great topic. Curious, though, do you seriously think Google should dictate standard sizes? The neighborhood-by-neighborhood uniqueness of this argues against it. For example, if you want to deal with advertisers citywide, well, then you might need to find out what the other citywide media sources are doing (Times/PI, Stranger, Weekly) if they even have any commonalities … but in our case, for example, we deal almost exclusively with “hyperlocal” advertisers to go with our hyperlocal news — we don’t even run AdSense.

    As for cost, that too has lots of room for interpretation. Our CPM, for example, is ridiculously low, but that’s because right now all our ads show on every pageview and our traffic is high enough that if we charged higher CPM, the monthly outlay per advertiser wouldn’t work for smallish local businesses, so even though our traffic has more than doubled since we started ads late last year, we haven’t raised our rates. We’d rather give more people a place to be seen … and seen a lot.

    One other thing, perhaps the only aspect here where a standard is merited: Why are you making the ad? If we in the online-only world want to be treated like grownup professionals such as those in the “old media” (where I spent more than a quarter-century), we can deploy similar, reasonable business practices. At newspapers of all sizes, if you don’t deliver an ad “camera-ready,” you are charged extra for ad production. In online, we have the right to do that too. In the occasional case when an advertiser doesn’t have art to provide for their ad on our site, we refer them to reasonably priced local designers. I have graphics experience from lightyears ago (typesetting, layout, oldschool, with principles that still translate to today’s software) but I can’t do anywhere near as good a job as a pro designer — and I need to spend as much time gathering, writing, and shooting news, anyway — so until we are ready to hire our own, I happily make referrals.

    P.S. This isn’t necessarily a “niche segment” if you are talking about decent traffic. Our weekly uniques consistently total more homes/businesses than the nearest community newspaper claims in hard-copy circulation. If you have any kind of a comparison to make with some other advertising venue in the topic area where you’re selling, be loud and proud about it … but always be honest. Good luck!

  2. The question begged here is, what would be our incentive to adapt to Google’s standard?

  3. Matt –

    You bring up some interesting points for sure.

    I run the B-Town Blog, and we currently have 16 Advertisers on the site. While it’s not enough yet to pay anyone (although our Salesfolks get a commission), it’s enough to pay for an office and overhead, and we all see a bright shining light at the end of the tunnel (say 3-5 years, maybe sooner).

    We have found that the best ad sales technique has ironically been in-person communication, vs the standard “buy and pay online” non-human approach so many sites are trying.

    This means that yes, in addition to being able to write, take photos, do some Photoshop, know WordPress and some HTML/CSS (perhaps even some PHP) as well as how to market, one has to actually create a Rate Card, Media Kit, etc. and pound the pavement, meet local merchants and be nice and sociable.

    So far our best marketing efforts have been in-person appearances like at the Burien Farmer’s Market and other local events. This way potential Advertisers get to know us, see us in action, learn about the site and get comfortable enough to give it a try.

    Just my .02 cents…good luck!

    Scott Schaefer

  4. Matt Goyer says:

    Interesting thoughts everyone!

    The reason I’d like to see standard sizes across the local blogs would be that if a local business does pony up a few dollars to get some design work done for an ad, they can then re-use that ad on other local sites without incurring more design fees.

    Likewise standard pricing (CPM vs monthly) would also make it easier on advertisers to compare and contrast their options.

    Few questions for you if you don’t mind sharing…

    How much do you charge for ad production if someone doesn’t have one?

    Do you have any recommendations for affordable graphic designers who can produce a decent ad quickly at a price lower than the cost of advertising?

    Do you mind sharing your rate cards? Any reason why you don’t post them online? If you don’t want to post them here you can reach me at

    Scott, can you explain more about your sales people? How do you structure that? I barely have enough time to write my blog working 60-70+ hours a week on my day job. So I definitely don’t have time to pound the pavement in person drumming up ads as much as I’d like to :).

    TR, for CPM advertising how do you report on that? Are you using an ad serving tool or just looking at number of page views through Google Analytics?

    Even if there wasn’t a fancy centralized ad network for us to use, even a forum where we could share what works/doesn’t work would be great. Are there any sites that you’ve found very helpful in helping you write a better blog? Most of us don’t compete since we’re all focused on different areas and topics so I’d love to see if we can help each other out.

  5. TR @ WSB says:

    There’s a national group that’s working on this type of a forum following a conference I attended a couple months ago and ongoing online discussion – because these are the questions that come up again and again.

    Re: CPM, right now, every ad is seen on every page. We are averaging more than 17,000 pageviews a day, and last month was our third month past half a million – this month is trending higher so far. So dividing that number by our most expensive ad, is how we get that. Just for comparison’s sake, for those who care to compare. We are still operating in a very rudimentary way since our site did not start off with the intention of becoming a business — but we have a variety of upgrades in the works.

    Re: salespeople, my co-publisher (and husband) is our business development director and that is his fulltime job. He assists a bit with news coverage – pictures to take, video to shoot, meetings to attend in hours when client meetings are not going to happen anyway (like evenings), but since we made the decision to go commercial in fall of ’07, that’s been his role. If you are serious about it, you do need someone devoted to it; I would think for your topic area you can probably make a few key contacts (local real estate firms, other types of marketing) for starters.

    Re: posting rate cards online. Frankly, it’s really important to make the first contact with an interested advertiser by phone, e-mail, whatever, and there’s so much you can’t convey in a printed document. Some online rate cards I’ve seen are impossible to swim through (a local newspaper chain has about 30 different options).

  6. Hi Matt and Everyone,

    I wanted to let you know that recently started a forum for bloggers at Here’s Interactivity Editor Don Smith’s post about it:

    “Posted by Don Smith at 9/9/08 12:11 p.m.

    Welcome to the’s Seattle Bloggers’ Forum. The idea for this discussion board grew out of a request from those attending a neighborhood blogging forum hosted by the Seattle Public Library in September 2008.

    We at the P-I have fostered a community of hundreds staff and reader blogs. But talking with other bloggers across the city, helped us to realize many wanted a place to discuss the ideas and issues of blogging about Seattle neighborhoods, schools, clubs or whatever people find interesting.

    We’re happy to assist Seattle’s dedicated community of blogging and invite all participants.

    As with the rest of’s forums, we ask only that you keep it civil and abide by the sites Terms of Use.

    Happy Blogging
    P-I Interactivity Editor Don Smith and the staff of the”

    Hope to see you there.


  7. jordan says:

    I hope you post again once you’ve determined your advertising direction. I just launched and I got as far as throwing some random dimensions and prices on the page.
    I think Scott Schaefer has a point though; the personal interaction is what will sell ads for most people. Too bad I’m agoraphobic.

  8. Justin says:

    Great discussion, Matt. Way to go to the heart of the matter.

    I’d standardize on whatever WSB is selling cuz it seems to be working :)

    Some more thoughts, self promotion, etc.
    1) and share an ad system but you can’t yet manage across the inventories. This will change :) Our cost per 1,000 is higher than WSB but we’re serving our ads into fewer placements per page (as TR notes). Keeping number of ads on the page limited focuses attention and rotating different ads and campaigns into the slots help keep the promotions fresh.

    2) The CHS “rate card” is here:

    All of our inventory is self-serve so advertisers can make changes and updates whenever they want. Lots of options (again as TR notes, seems to be a problem with online adv) but we’re working to streamline. We also offer a text placement that requires no graphic. (the challenge of providing affordable creative to our advertisers is a tough one — we put out a call for local designers: )

    I don’t think any of our inventories is non-standard except for maybe 125×125 which only GOOG adsense ignores for some reason.

    3) We offer at least 10% of our impressions at no charge to help small local businesses on tight budgets and give people a chance to test drive our system. When we have few paid advertisers, we give away more impressions. You can see a lot of small local businesses taking advantage of this opportunity when you visit the sites. We hope these relationships grow with the businesses.

    4) The magic that powers CHS and CDN will soon be available in a bottle!

    5) 4 is not true. But we are starting to make the content and ad platform available to bloggers in other neighborhoods and cities. We share in the ad revenue. You get awesome neighborhood blog and ad tools. Mail jseattle at gmail for more about that.

    6) We are also working on making our ad tools available for people who already have solid neighborhood blogs. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, you can check out an indi like which I’m still testing on some of my pages but hasn’t performed that well for me.

    This is a pretty cool thread — a few of Seattle’s local journalism trailblazers (and a hanger-on or two like me :)) talking shop. Nice work.

    Justin Carder
    CHS Capitol Hill Seattle, llc

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