Pajamas and the Status of Wine Bloggers

PjI can make a pretty convincing case against the relevancy of the "Wine Blog" or "Wine Bloggers", particularly if I examine them from the context of an advertiser:

1. All but a few wine bloggers have the tiniest of readerships.

2. Those wine blogs that do appear to have more than a few readers rarely if ever validate their readership claims with reputable third party traffic measurement services

3. Determining on which blogs to advertise a client's product or service is made very difficult by almost never having access to demographic information of the wine blog's readership.

4. The trouble of placing an ad on most wine blogs is too much given the payoff.

5. It's easier and more reliable to buy ad space on a professional wine website like WineSpectator.com or the food and wine pages of an on-line newspaper

On the whole, all these claims about wine blogs are true. But what wine bloggers should be aware of is that nearly the identical claims about wine blogs can be made by publicists who may not be looking for where to place ads for clients, but are be looking for ways to expose their clients' service or product to an audience through media coverage.

I'm both a wine publicist and a wine blogger. So, I have a certain kind of concern about the place of wine blogs in the world of wine publishing/media. One particular indication of the place of wine blogs within the larger world of wine publishing is the extent to which wine blogs are exposed to publicists through their traditional tools.

Every publicist uses one kind of media database or another. Each of us uses our own proprietary database of media that includes the basic information on a writer or media outlet. That database also includes notes on interactions with a particular writer, their proclivities with regard to subject matter they tend to cover in their writing and the type and size of the audience they serve.

Beyond my own proprietary wine media directory, also subscribe to the VOCUS Media Database. This online directly costs a few thousand dollars a year to subscrbe to and gives me access to many thousands of writers and media outlets across the country. It is a remarkable tool. For example, if I call up the Wine Spectator listing in the VOCUS database, I immediately discover their address, main phone, social media outlets, their editorial calender for the year, a list of all the writers and editors with their individual emails and phone numbers, along with detailed information about what topics the writers cover and how they prefer to be contacted. I can also learn the specific paid cirulation of the Wine Spectator.

Via this database, I have the same information for nearly every media outlet and writer in America. If I want, I can very quickly pull up a list of writers who live in the Houston area, who write for a publication with a circulation of more than 25,000, who write about the oil and gas industry and who prefer to be contacted by telephone rather than email.

I can create a similar list for bloggers, rather than writers or editors tied to a particular media outlet.

There are are a grand total of 46 real Wine Bloggers listed in the VOCUS media database, one of the largest and heaviest used media databases among publicists in the U.S. Of those, only 4 have a "readership" number attached to the entry, and all four are inaccurate representations of the monthly visitors to the blog.

Now, I know there are more than 46 wine bloggers in the U.S. I know that there are more than 4 that have a decent readership. What this lack of bloggers in the VOCUS Media Database tells me and what the inaccuracy of the readership numbers for those blogs tells me is this: PROFESSIONAL PUBLICISTS CARE VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF WINE BLOGGERS AND THEIR AUDIENCE.

WHY IS THIS TRUE?

1. Few wine bloggers care seriously about building a substantial audience.

2. Few bloggers do build a serious audience.

3. The world of wine blogs is still viewed by most as the province of amateurs with Internet access and a nice pair of pajamas.

These conclusions don't boil down to a judgement against wine bloggers or the wine blogging world. It is not an indication that wine bloggers are poor reporters or writers or educators. It's not an indictment against the wine blogging category.

In my view, it is an indication that no set of circumstances have arisen that motivate a good number of wine bloggers to step up their publishing and business game. When the VOCUS database, which services people most concerned with quality publishing outlets, begins to take seriously the wine blogging world by including more wine bloggers with more substantial information for publicists to work with, we will have an indication that publicists and advertisers see an up-step in the wine blogging world's game.


45 Responses

  1. David White - June 6, 2012

    Tom,
    I don’t disagree with your conclusions, but it’s worth noting that the Cision database has 330 wine bloggers listed.
    Secondly, two questions on this statement: “Those wine blogs that do appear to have more than a few readers rarely if ever validate their readership claims with reputable third party traffic measurement services.”
    Do you know of any “reputable third party traffic measurement services” that have comparable numbers to Google analytics?
    According to Jo Diaz (http://www.wine-blog.org/index.php/2012/04/09/the-10-most-important-wine-bloggers-in-the-us-paul-mabray-inspired/), my site only attracts “159 unique visitors for the month,” according to Compete.com. Yet according to Google Analytics, I’m regularly passing 15,000 unique visitors per month. So I have about 100 times more traffic than Compete says I do.
    Second, let’s assume I use a “reputable third party traffic measurement service” like Compete or Alexa to compare my site to other blogs. (Many have said the comparisons are more valid than the traffic numbers.)
    Doesn’t that automatically come across as combative?

  2. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    David,
    A simple listing of readership numbers by the blogger with reference to a source would be a good start.

  3. Samantha Dugan - June 6, 2012

    I know I’m gunning for ad dollars from Q-Tips and Tootsie Rolls with my last piece….

  4. Blake Gray - June 6, 2012

    Tom: Shocking fact — newspapers and magazines fudge their readership numbers for increased ad revenues. One way is to distribute free copies. Another is to claim more readers-per-copy than is possible.
    I’ll share my actual readership numbers with any real potential advertiser who asks. I look at them all the time, I know what they are.
    I think it’s fair to say I’m one of the most-read 46 wine bloggers in the US; that’s not a particularly hard standard to reach. I wonder, am I an the Vocus database? If so, is there a number attached to my entry? ‘Cause I never heard of Vocus before and nobody from there ever asked me anything.

  5. James McCann - June 6, 2012

    Tom,
    I think it is important that the analytics start including the number of comments that are left by other bloggers trying to drive traffic to their own blog. (See above)
    But in all seriousness, how many of the eyes on a blog are from industry insiders who would not be customers for wine related advertisers?

  6. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Well, I happen to write about industry/marketing/political matters so the 25,000 unique readers I get each month are at least half from the industry. I’m not surprised bloggers might tend to respond to my posts more than consumers, nor should anyone else be.
    Blake, as for readership numbers, I can easily find out what the paid circulation is of a magazine, although they will also tout their “readership” numbers. If I buy advertising, I compare paid circulation numbers, not readership.
    The point is that the PR and Advertising industries simply are not that interested in wine blogs because so very few have shown any ability to build an audience. When they do, the PR and Advertising industries will begin to demand more authoritative numbers and will get them.

  7. Taylor Eason - June 6, 2012

    One listing of wine bloggers doth not a complete compilation make. And how open is VOCUS to alternative media anyway? Generally, if it’s not “printed,” the traditional listing services write off bloggers with no concern whatsoever, no matter how impactful or influential. I have no idea if I’m listed in VOCUS (doubtful, even though I’m a professional writer and, frankly, don’t care), but use Google Analytics to “verify” my 13,000 unique visitors/32,000 page views per month. All an advertiser has to do is ask for verification.
    What’s interesting to me is wine PR firms still send samples to writers for pubs with a readership of 15,000 and ignore the up-and-coming bloggers that have much more reach. Seems a bit insane to me BUT, having said that, there really is no way for PR folks to know which bloggers do, in fact, have that reach. Something we might want to bring up with Joel at the WBC? Have bloggers — who track analytics — list their uniques/PVs on the site?

  8. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Taylor, for many other industries VOCUS has made a significant commitment to online writers, either in the form of bloggers or pure online publication plays.
    As for readerships, my guess is that there are VERY few blogs that get 15,000 unique readers per month. A handful at most.
    This is not an indictment, as I said, of the blogging community or genre. I’m a HUGE advocate of the wine blogging community. But it is an indication that the wine blogging world has not attracted the attention it could.

  9. David White - June 6, 2012

    To Taylor’s point about “writers for pubs with a readership of 15,000,” she’s spot on.
    One can safely assume that a wine blog reader is, well, reading the blog she’s visiting. If a wine columnist for the Podunk Gazette reaches 15,000 readers, one can safely assume that most readers are skipping the wine column

  10. Frank Strong - June 6, 2012

    Wow, quite a conversation you’ve sparked here Tom. I’ll offer a few points in response to the post and some of the comments:
    1. Vocus absolutely takes alternative media seriously. In fact, we’ve got several pretty interesting social media and social media monitoring tools.
    2. I did a quick search in the system and pulled up more than 100 wine bloggers, but I’ll pass this post along to the research team.
    3. Traffic figures are provided by Compete.com. There’s a lot of dispute in the industry over numbers like this, and Compete tends to be conservative, but we think it’s the best solution today.
    4. Blake, you’re not in the system. Happy to add you if you’d like.
    5. Finally, and this is important, any customer can add a new publication. When that happens, it triggers a note to research to go check it out and complete the data. Personally, I do this a lot, but then I mark the data as “private” — which means it’s not shared. I do this for several reasons, the most important of which, is as PR person, I like to do my own research and aim to really understand the person I’m pitching. I add photos, social sites and other links to the profile, so that in the future, I can easily check in on what they’ve written about BEFORE pitching them.
    Wine is certainly a growing segment. It certainly deserves renewed attention. I’m but a novice, but prefer Malbec or a good Chianti.

  11. Thomas Pellechia - June 6, 2012

    Maybe all this “lack” has to do with the fact that it’s difficult to take wine blogging seriously as long as the majority of bloggers do it on their own time and dime, have day jobs that pay the bills, and because of those two things aren’t in a position to spend time and money selling themselves.
    Having said that, if I had PR dollars to throw around, the last people I would give it to would be self-appointed experts, and I wouldn’t care how much traffic they generate, because one day, one of those people would surely make me sorry that I spent the money.

  12. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Frank,
    Awesome. Thank you for commenting. I have infact added a couple of wine bloggers.
    One issue is that when the search at VOCUS is done for wine bloggers, there are a number of media contacts that come up that indicate they are bloggers that cover wine, but they really don’t. That is to say, their inclusion of “wine” in their profile is just a way of completing their wine and food credentials, but they have very little focus on wine.
    My point here is that when PR pros beginning demanding more complete wine blogger coverage or when they start adding more wine bloggers, it will be a good indication of their interest in that segment of the media market.
    Thanks again for commenting.

  13. Blake Gray - June 6, 2012

    Frank: I’m not begging to be in your system. But I think the fact that I’m not shows your system’s not that good.
    Tell me: How many monthly visitors does, say, the 40th-most-read wine blog in your system get? I need a good laugh.
    Thanks.

  14. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Thomas,
    Not sure who you are referring to when you say the “self appointed experts” nor how they would make you sorry in days to come.

  15. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Blake:
    The VOCUS System is darned good and used by a gigantic number of PR pros. The fact that there are a limited number of wine bloggers in the system is not a reflection of the VOCUS abilities. It’s a reflection of the need of the PR community for a list of wine bloggers.

  16. James McCann - June 6, 2012

    Blake is apparently already getting his fill of free junkets right now.

  17. Marcia M - June 6, 2012

    Nice jammies shot! Good dialog here in the comments forum! đŸ™‚

  18. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Blake gets his share of “junkets” because those organizing them know he has an astute and good sized audience.

  19. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Marcia,
    Who doesn’t love a good “jammies shot”?

  20. Ron Washam, HMW - June 6, 2012

    I guess I write about wine. I know I have a get a lot of hits these days, but nothing unique about any of them.
    I used to get approached by people who wanted to put ads on HoseMaster of Wine, but I always turned them down. I knew I’d ultimately disappoint them. And it’s not really much money–I used to get paid a LOT more to write jokes. Even with something like 20,000 hits per month, I wonder how many people that actually boils down to. Let’s say 20% are hits from image searches, which is pretty conservative for many blogs. Then there are folks searching things like “Fart Water” who end up on my blog–that’s another 10% who don’t read it or return. Then assume that I have a lot of regular readers, which I do, judging from my comments, I’m guessing, at most, I have a couple of thousand people who look at my blog in any given month. And most of those stay the same each month.
    I’m a pretty popular blog, always in the Top Twenty on the old Post Rank system that Google purchased, though I’m admittedly not to everyone’s taste. But wine blogs aren’t food blogs or Mommy blogs or sex blogs (I try)–the most popular wine blogs would rank very poorly among food blogs.
    In the four years plus I’ve been doing this, on and off, “monetizing” a wine blog has always been talked about, mostly by Tom Wark. Hasn’t been done yet, not in a seriously profitable sense, though a few bloggers have “ascended” to other more successful venues. If this is about getting more junkets and free samples, well, have at it. Me, I do it for the joy of doing it, not so that someone can use my talent to sell their crap.

  21. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Ron
    Monetizing a blog is pretty simple, straightforward stuff: Build an audience of size. When speaking of advertisers the adage is true: Build it and they will come.
    That not a lot of serious advertising is devoted to wine blogs is a simple measure of the relatively small audiences they have, as you noted above.
    Further, I’d argue that the proliferation of blogs despite the fact that few get any real substantial number of samples, let alone junkets, means most also do it like you, for the joy of it.

  22. Ron Washam, HMW - June 6, 2012

    Tom,
    If monetizing means chump change, then I agree. It is simple. Lots of people have tried to build an audience to attract serious advertising, from you to PalatePress to 1WineDoody. I don’t see much advertising here. And you’re the Big Kahuna of wine blogs. Not much at Dr. Vino or 1WineDude either.
    Yet look at the big food blogs–covered in advertising, even from wineries. So how much more audience does one need to attract serious advertising? Half a million hits per month? And if content is king, is that kind of audience even attainable for a person who has to have a real job and wine blog in his spare time? Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see it happen. Hell, I’d like to charge a buck a month to the eight people who read my blog, but then I’d be down to no readers. A really successful wine blog would raise the entire wine blogging ship, which, right now, most closely resembles the Andrea Doria.
    Maybe if you could sell the free samples and auction off the junkets a wine blogger could make a buck! But I don’t get samples or junkets, so I’m just screwed.

  23. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Ron,
    I think 100,000 uniques a month would get the ad world looking at you very closely. The problem, as you allude to, is that it’s just not there now. I think the reason why it isn’t there has nothing to do with the quality of content. It has to do with the quality of promotion and marketing. It’s going to be hard to grow a wine blog organically to that figure. You need a substantial and well thought out marketing plan if you are talking about a yet not very well known personality getting up to the 100,000 uniques per month.
    Give me Steve Hiemoff, Alder Yarrow, Blake Gray and you, as an example of a blog with 4 personalities constantly posting, and give me $100,000 over a 12 month period and I’ll put at 100,000 uniques per month at that blog.
    I think with those 100,000 Unique per month and given the demographics of wine readers, you could sell an add on that blog for $10/thousand uniques visitors—NOT PAGES LOADS or “Impressions”. So, put 8 ads on your blog at that price and you garner $8,000 per month or $96,000 per year. And if you keep up the promotion you increase your readership and with it you increase your CPM. Add to this the fact that as your site grows in readership, the potential to grow it faster organically also grows.
    It can be done but it takes a real marketing effort. Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, etc. did not grow organically. They marketed their “content”.
    Food is another issue. Far more people eat than drink wine. It’s the inherent disadvantage of the wine category.

  24. Thomas Pellechia - June 6, 2012

    Tom,
    Out of the hundreds of wine blogs that litter the landscape, how many have something to market? And as Ron says, what percentage of “hits” is meaningful or relevant?
    Maybe I’m in a great big minority, but “personalities” as you characterize the names you mentioned, is not the content that I look for when I read a blog. It’s the information I want, and with a few exceptions, information is woefully lacking; maybe PR people with money have figured that out, too.
    Re, “self appointed experts.” In my opinion, the category covers maybe 2/3 of the hundreds of wine blogs. The disappointment they could bring falls in areas like ethics, knowledge, sincerity, and talent. If I had PR money to spend, I’d be looking for an online venue that actually gives a return on my investment. All the annual conferences and blogging awards wouldn’t mean jack to me, especially after having read the blogs.

  25. Tom Wark - June 6, 2012

    Thomas,
    It should be pretty clear by now that PR people and advertisers are most concerned with eyeballs, not quality content.
    That said, I single out Alder, Blake and Steve because each of them are not only highly professional and highly educated when it comes to wine, but they are good writers and reporters who create quality content. Not because they are “personalities”.

  26. Mark Ganchiff - June 6, 2012

    Tom,
    I started an internet news publication called Midwest Wine Press in September ’11 and every month except December our traffic has increased. We should easily hit 10,000 page views this month per Google Analytics. Our original content is professionally written and I usually at least put on jeans when starting work.

  27. 1WineDude - June 7, 2012

    Wine is a niche – it’s a super-niche topic, actually.
    The Wine Advocate has something like 45K subscribers. If 1WineDude.com is getting 15-20K unique visitors per month, then **in a way** it’s like having a substantial % of TWA’s audience.
    The point is not that alternative wine pubs cannot benefit from marketing, but that they can only benefit *so much* from marketing because the audience size is small in the U.S.
    Can we work to increase the overall audience globally? Sure, but that is also pretty fractured and it goes to many sources. If you pick wine, you need to understand that you’re picking a niche of a niche, and the numbers will reflect that.
    Advertisers and the like need to understand that, and target their needs accordingly. Most don’t, but they should…

  28. Fredric Koeppel - June 7, 2012

    One of the problems with measuring traffic, as someone mentioned above, is the vast gulf between the statistics you find in different counting programs and functions. I have Blue Host, which comes with the hosting entity for my blog, and I subscribe to 123Count.com, which does a great job in breaking figures down into minute entities by city, region, country and so on. but the discrepancy btw their numbers is mindboggling. for example, Blue Host tells me that the highest traffic month for BiggerThanYourHead was July 2011, with 76,574 visits, 18,974 of them unique. That’s pretty encouraging. 123Count, however, says that for the same month the total visits were 7,682, with almost 7,000 being “first-time visits.” what the fuck is going on? and how can anyone build a marketing campaign on such disparity or even trust the figures?

  29. Tom Wark - June 7, 2012

    Fredric:
    But wait. There’s more. Even if you determine a tool for measuring readership, then there are those that read you “remotely” via news readers and your RSS Feed. This number is important because, as it was pointed out above, folks that come to your site might be lured to it by an off topic google picture search. Those that purposefully read your content via RSS Feed WANT to read you. So, there’s that. And how do you serve ads up to your RSS Feed readers? It can be done, but it takes additional work.

  30. Thomas Pellechia - June 7, 2012

    Tom,
    Yes, I know that PR money goes to eyeball statistics. I am talking about what I would do if I were responsible for throwing money around.
    Past history doesn’t necessarily provide a ringing endorsement of a particular habitual practice.
    Joe–the wine dude, that is–has it absolutely correct: the niche isn’t big enough even for WS to brag about its readership, how will an overabundance of blogs be able to do any better?
    In my view, if an information source, print or Internet, can’t attract PR and ad money from outside the niche industry that it services, then it will remain a limited resource.

  31. Tom Wark - June 7, 2012

    Thomas:
    The Wine Spectator has a paid circulation of its print publication of 400,000. The “readership” of those 400,000 subscriptions is far larger than that.
    It’s website gets more than 500,000 unique visitors on a monthly basis.
    I’d argue that both these figures are something to brag about.
    That said, it doesn’t take this kind of readership to run a moneymaking wine blog. And despite Joe’s correct assessment of the wine niche, there are in fact enough internet-bound wine lovers to attract enough that would result in a good sized revenue stream via advertising. The point is that it has not been done, not that it can’t be done. Consistent Good Content + Marketing will get you there.

  32. ReverseWineSnob - June 7, 2012

    Very interesting discussion…as far as a common and reputable source of traffic stats (point #2), I suggest SeeTheStats. It pulls data directly from your Google Analytics account. And while Google Analytics can still vary wildly from some of the other sources out there, it is well known and generally respected.
    Here’s the page I set up for ReverseWineSnob.com:
    http://www.seethestats.com/site/ReverseWineSnob.com
    I publish this link in a few different spots on my blog for transparency to advertisers, wineries, or really anyone who’s interested. I believe you can also create widgets to display on your blog. It seems to work well, although I have noticed a few hiccups where the data stops updating and you need to reconnect it, which takes about 30 seconds.
    Perhaps an answer for at least defining a common and transparent traffic source assuming you can get widespread adoption among wine bloggers…
    -Jon

  33. Thomas Pellechia - June 7, 2012

    “Consistent Good Content + Marketing will get you there.”
    On this, Tom, we agree.
    When will the first item take place?
    400,000 subscribers to WS? From where did you get that number? If it’s correct, and based on an estimated $30 billion annual wine consumption, it represents $75,000 per subscriber. Also, based on the kinds of wines–and their price range–that sells to 90-plus percent of wine consumers, it looks to be skewed.
    Maybe they are all cigar smokers or perhaps travel agents…

  34. kristy - June 7, 2012

    Wow, I’m super late to the party, but want to chime in.
    I do not work in wine or the wine industry, just next to it (I happen to live in Napa).
    I DO, however, work in the PR world, where my business’ entire focus is connecting major brands with bloggers for the sole purposes of advertising and sponsorships. The advertising/PR budgets are considerable, and these brands most certainly want to work with bloggers of all sizes.
    No doubt there are particularities to the wine blogging, wine advertising, and wine PR world. But big brands and agencies are fighting to get in front of even tiny bloggers who can demonstrate some sort of regular readership.
    So if your point is “PROFESSIONAL PUBLICISTS CARE VERY LITTLE ABOUT THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF WINE BLOGGERS AND THEIR AUDIENCE” I can’t argue, because the wine blogging world isn’t my area of expertise.
    But I CAN tell you (or maybe I’m directing this at the publicists?) that professional publicists *outside of the wine industry* care very much about bloggers on the whole, especially female bloggers, and are creating dozens of methods to get in front of as many of those bloggers as possible.
    I hope the wine industry’s social media innovators start finding ways to leverage the collective influence of the small bloggers, and that the PR/Media folks embrace models that exist — and are thriving — outside of the wine industry.

  35. 1WineDude - June 7, 2012

    Tom – sounds like your point is that wine bloggers, even the best of them, ares sucky marketers. I agree with you.
    But you’re assuming that those people want to market their websites as alternatives to WS, TWA, etc. I don’t think most of them want to do that, or are looking at it as a primary revenue source. I’m trying to “go pro” and I am not looking at 1WD as a primary revenue source, so much as I’m looking at myself as a revenue source. Also, it assumes that aggregation of a splintered reader base is ripe to happen if the marketing is done properly – that may or may not be the case in reality (I’m not sure where I sit on that one… leaning towards “may not” but could be persuaded…).
    All – the traffic rabbit hole goes very, VERY deep indeed. I’ve had various services measure 1WD uniques at 200, 11000, 19000, and 30000, ALL FOR THE SAME MONTH. I wouldn’t get too caught up in it unless your goal is ad revenue, in which case I’d advise writing about something other than wine :).

  36. Tom Wark - June 7, 2012

    Joe,
    I’m not sure wine bloggers are sucky marketers. And my point is that there has been very little effort by most bloggers to market their sites in any substantial way. This is likely to be due to your conclusion that most of them have no interest in doing so. And that’s a legitimate choice.
    As for whether a well-marketed, blog-related wine site could be well marketed and successful, there are numerous examples in other industries and subject areas where it has occurred. So we know it can happen.

  37. Tom Wark - June 7, 2012

    Thomas,
    The 400,000 number for the Spectator comes from the professional audit bureau they use and that most magazines use. It’s not by any means a difficult number to believe.

  38. Julie Brosterman - June 7, 2012

    Great piece Tom as the traditional media outlets still rule when it comes to giving credibility to writers or bloggers.
    I’m sure I’m not on the list as I utilize facebook.com/womenwine and twitter @womenwine as my vehicle for communicating.
    As of this week my recent stats are 22k+ or more reaches weekly on facebook and 7.6 million monthly based on friends of friends which I think is substantial and am listed as a top 100 twitter publisher in the wine category.
    Perhaps if these social media vehicles were taken into consideration, we’d see more bloggers in traditional media. The PR folks do reach out to them for offline event attendance (trade tastings, etc.) and to sample wine and write about it.
    There are over 500 nominations in the Best Wine Blog Award this year so perhaps the tide is just about to turn.
    Julie
    [email protected]

  39. Thomas Pellechia - June 7, 2012

    Tom,
    I wasn’t questioning your source, only the power of the number.
    If you take an annual $30 billion spent and measure it against the 400,000 WS subscribers (with reference to how much of the $30 billion is medium-priced to low-priced wine and how many wine consumers estimated globally) it appears that WS taps into between 2 and 3% of the U.S. wine buying public and barely registers with the global wine buying numbers.
    Certainly looks like a niche magazine to me.

  40. Tom Wark - June 7, 2012

    Thomas,
    I see what you are saying. The same could be said for Bon Appetit Magazine. If they have a circulation of 1 million, they don’t come close to reaching the 350,000,000 Americans that eat. Though, we should bring that down to the number of Americans that prepare food in some way.
    So, I suppose it’s certainly “niche” in that respect.

  41. Thomas Pellechia - June 7, 2012

    Yes, Tom, it is a niche, and a small slice. A magazine like the New Yorker, draws so much diversity that it probably does well selling all kinds of ads. A niche magazine is another animal. A blog is even another animal.
    The question then is: how does a small niche interpret into wine blogging possibilities?
    Are there hundreds of wine magazines?
    If the answer is no, then why not?
    What does that say about the economic possibilities for wine blogs?
    If I were throwing media money around, that’s what I’d want to know–that, and the issue of quality content, which remains miserable on the Internet.
    Being marketed to is passive–a media spender needs to do research instead. Maybe the paucity of ads for blogs is the result of such research rather than a failure on the bloggers’ part to market themselves.

  42. Tom Wark - June 7, 2012

    Thomas,
    The question isn’t necessarily the economic possibilities. The question is the possibility of growing a wine blog’s readership to a size that advertisers would be interested in. I think it can with sufficient marketing and good content.
    I’m not as concerned as you are with the issue of securing talented writers and reporters either. Despite the fact that the majority of blogs may not be too great, there are more than enough fine and reputable writers to fill out a wine blog.
    I’m not sure what kind of research would turn advertisers off wine blogs other than the fact that most of them have a small readership and no efficient way to serve and measure response to ads. Both these are issues can be over come. But I can’t imagine anything specific to wine blogs other than these two issues that would keep an advertiser from wanting to communicate with a blogs readership.

  43. Thomas Pellechia - June 8, 2012

    Tom,
    It IS an economic issue to the advertisers, and you point to the reason in your final paragraph.
    If you are responsible for throwing money at media, you should do the research to know whether or not the money has a chance at reaching enough of the correct people.
    If the major wine consumer magazine can’t get more than 2% of the market to read it, how will a blogger get more than that?
    Maybe PR and ad people are smarter than even you think đŸ˜‰

  44. Tom Wark - June 8, 2012

    Thomas, it’s not merely about the percent of the market. It’s about who is reading. The Wine Spectator’s demographics show that despite only a small part of the overall wine buying market read the Spectator, those that do have extraordinarily high incomes and spend cash on things like watches, expensive vacations, Jags, etc. It’s why jag producers, watch makers and other luxury good suppliers advertise there regularly. The fact that they have only 2% of the over all marketplace isn’t the issue.
    Wine & Spirits magazine has about 100,000 subscribers and they too get high end, luxury suppliers to advertise because of the similar demographics to the wine spectator.
    Advertisers are simple people: They want a group of eyeballs (or ears), that are more likely than average to buy their products. It’s that simple. It’s not magic. It’s not brain surgery.
    So where blogs, traditional magazines, radio shows or billboards are concerned, advertisers merely want to know that a large enough group will see their ad and that this group is demographically appropriate.
    If a blog can deliver both, and if they ask for the ad, they’ll get it.

  45. Thomas Pellechia - June 8, 2012

    Tom,
    I thought that one of the many lofty promises of the Internet was that it would provide better targeting for advertisers rather than the same old shotgun approach, which you seem to be saying is all there is.
    In any case, I understand what you are saying–really. I just think it is nonsense to believe that wine blogs have much to offer advertisers today.


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