Bloggers and brands: who is responsible for ROI?

In this guest post, Hannah Demilta sets some guidelines for brands working with bloggers and asks who is responsible for the return in investment.

The blogger-brand relationship is a sticky issue in Australia. There are a variety of ways these partnerships are forming – from advertising, integration within PR campaigns, sponsored content and beyond. As marketers, we want to work with personal bloggers and allow our brand to sit comfortably within their network – which is never easy.

For some, working with bloggers might appear to be just another channel or new medium to share a message. However, when working with part-time hobby bloggers, we aren’t necessarily dealing with businesses. Communication should be frequent, and expectations need to be set on both sides.

I was at Blogopolis, a Nuffnang blogging conference in Sydney last weekend. A blogger, Lori from Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum, inspired this post when she asked a pressing question about working with advertisers. She had faced a situation where a company who had advertised on her blog called her. He was angry because he claimed he wasn’t getting any traffic from a banner ad he ran on her blog. She wanted to know how other bloggers would have handled that situation and what her response should have been.

The general consensus from the panel was that this responsibility falls to the advertiser. That as long as a blogger is being transparent in terms of audience numbers and experience of past engagement that a blogger can’t “make” someone click on an ad. So when asking the question “Are bloggers responsible for results (in the form of clicks, traffic or conversations) when they decide to monetise their blog and work with brands?”

My answer, in short, is no. I feel it’s the role of agencies to vouch for the credibility of our bloggers and influencers.

My view is that we can guarantee certain things from our bloggers in terms of sharing and readership. If we do our job in working with our influencers, people will click as a result. We are responsible for giving our influencers the best tools, resources and information we can do so they can do what they do best in their environment. However, we still don’t promise clicks and we certainly don’t make our bloggers promise this.

The advertiser or agency has some clear responsiblilities.

Understand and appreciate the blog environment. Part of that means providing appropriate content that will fuel conversations, entertain and add value to the blogger and their audience. The best content normally gets the best engagement.

Appreciate the environment. That means understanding that earned media requires you to let go of control, something marketing managers appear to struggle with.

And the blogger has responsibilities too:

Be transparent about their analytics and if they know, what the advertiser should expect in terms of engagement based on previous experience.

Clear disclosure of the brand’s involvement. This means being open and honest about the sponsored content or advertisement, and represent the campaign in a way that is appropriate to both the brand and your community.

While blogger engagement won’t be the right approach for every brand, I believe we’ll continue to see a trend of marketers jumping into these niche communities and conversations. Stronger communication can help ensure the best outcome for both the client, blogger and their readership.

Brands that can embrace these ideas when working in partnerships with bloggers can expect a better result in working toward their campaign objectives.

Hannah Demilta is general manager at Rocketman Media


  1. Francis
    9 Jul 12
    3:14 pm

  2. That guy calling up to complain about not getting any traffic from his banner ad is akin to advertising in the Yellow Pages then calling them to complain that no one is calling from the ad.

    Many advertisers are in unchartered waters when trying to leverage their brand via advertising / sponsorship relationships with bloggers. Rather than looking for unrealistic levels of accountability, they should be thinking of creative ways to partner with bloggers that give some benefit to the blog’s readership, and not simply slap your banner ads in front of what you hope to be an engaged and relevant audience.

  3. @FergDelight
    9 Jul 12
    4:56 pm

  4. Nice post Hannah and nice to meet you at Blogopolis. Shame though there weren’t more brands in attendance.

  5. Rachel Hynes
    9 Jul 12
    7:07 pm

  6. People who attended @LadyMelbourne’s presentation at Blogopolis on putting together a media kit were advised to always include very detailed terms and conditions, that might also include a disclosure statement and your position on editorial approval over content and images. They could also include how many times you might tweet or promote the item/post on Facebook etc. You can only guarantee your actions, not the response.

  7. Miss Pink
    9 Jul 12
    8:17 pm

  8. Great post Hannah!
    Glad to see that there are PR’s who think of this like we do. That advertising never guarentee’s a response or sales, it’s a way of getting your name out there, on someone’s radar and hopefully someone takes the risk and dives in.
    A blogger cannot make people react to sponsored content (ad’s, sponsored posts, reviews). I feel as long as they do their best to represent the company in a good light and to encourage their readers to look into that company to make a decision for themselves then they’ve upheld their end of the deal.
    This is how advertising works.
    Would a company really call up a magazine or television station after taking an ad out with them because sales did not increase? I think not.

  9. Fabfour
    10 Jul 12
    11:49 am

  10. thanks for this post – insightful read.

  11. Eleise Bott
    11 Jul 12
    10:21 am

  12. A great post! This is something that I have worried about with selling advertising on my website. Online advertising the stats are transparent as far as traffic goes but not brand awareness which builds even without clicks.

  13. Kruppy
    11 Jul 12
    1:29 pm

  14. Good piece Hannah. I agree its absolutely up to the advertiser to work with bloggers to come up with a creative solution that will engage readers. Bloggers merely provide an appropriate platform for brands to launch from.

  15. Emily
    11 Jul 12
    3:04 pm

  16. Hi Hannah! Thanks for writing an informative post about bloggers and advertising. It is often a grey area and not much discussion on a public forum for australian bloggers. I believe in forthcoming and upfront with potential sponsors. I do agree with miss pink. print media advertising do not guarantee new sales either.. and they often require a significant amount of investment. i think sponsors should uphold the same respect towards bloggers as they would towards magazines and other mainstream advertising channels.

  17. Emily
    11 Jul 12
    3:05 pm

  18. And it was nice to meet you at blogopolis :) xo emily

  19. Jye Smith
    13 Jul 12
    4:21 pm

  20. Great post, Hannah. Some straight forward advice for something that is a bit like straight forward media-relations.

  21. Phil Ohren
    16 Jul 12
    5:17 pm

  22. Thanks Hannah. Great tips. Feels like this sort of process is really lacking in the industry at the moment.

    It is really important to remember that Bloggers have priorities & very busy schedules – brands can’t possibly expect to be serviced at the level they are used to.

    Thanks again,

  23. Elliot
    17 Jul 12
    3:33 pm

  24. Totally agree and it’s nice to see people on the same page here.