What is the problem with UK blogs?

Ashley Norris, the founder of Shiny Media, is today’s guest author for Tech Crunch and is ruminating on why the UK lags behind the States when it comes to monetizing the blog industry.

“The last five years have seen an explosion in the number of independent commercial blogs, blog networks and websites in the US. The Huffington Post, Sugar Publishing, Perez Hilton, Gawker Media, Engadget – the list goes on forever, and they are just the Web 2.0 premiership. There are thousands of individuals running less high profile blogs and websites who are making a significant living from their work.

“In the UK it is a depressingly different story….. There are some amazing blogs and sites out there, Hecklerspray, Anorak, The Spoiler, Coolest Gadgets, Unreality TV and Pocket-Lint spring to mind, but of those only one can claim more than a million monthly readers.”

According to Ashley, the main problems are:

  1. Limited number of UK online eyeballs
  2. Lack of imagination in the ad industry
  3. Lack of UK media entrepreneurs
  4. Lack of VC support
  5. Too much competition
  6. The omnipotent BBC

You can read the post for a full explanation of Ashley’s views, but the one that stands out for me is “lack of imagination in the advertising industry”.

There’s no denying it is growing at a rapid rate. According to the IAB, online advertising grew by 38% between 2006 and 2007, representing about 15% of the overall ad market. But, search dominates the space, making up around 60% of the market. And, imho, it’s difficult to get creative with search advertising; besides most of the money flows in the direction of Google, Yahoo and MSN.

I think the problem is that most display advertising is poorly targeted and uncreative – hands up if you find online ads boring and obtrusive? This needs to change and provide website publishers with revenue streams to make their sites more attractive to investors. This’ll feed through to better content and more visitors.

I’ve also had an early viewing of some market research recently which shows that in the B2B tech space, blogs lag a long way behind traditional online media and business websites when it comes to readership and trustworthiness. This won’t change overnight, but given time and a bit more money flowing in the direction of publishers the quality and popularity of blogs, particularly media blogs, will only improve.