Author - Jeff Scherer


If you really want to give voice to your business and tell your story, you should consider sponsored content. A sponsored post is one that is written and created specifically for an advertiser. It is displayed right in the main editorial column of a publisher’s site. The posts are treated like any other post you’d see on a website: they are uploaded, published, and tracked through a site’s analytics. Since they take the shape of a regular post and can fit seamlessly into a blog, they are a great choice for delivering the exact message that an advertiser wants in long form, supported by text, photos, video, or other forms of media.

Traditional advertising can certainly be effective – for example, take a look at the celebrity endorsements for Pepsi and Coke shown here. But these advertisements explicitly “sell” a product, and that’s not what our team is after when we create a sponsored post.

coke-pepsi

When they are done well, sponsored posts do not sell or even have an advertorial sound (unlike the celebrity endorsements above). After all, readers are smart and can sense when content isn’t genuine; people prefer to read posts that are interesting and hopefully entertaining — but most of all, people prefer posts that are not directly selling something to them. By writing quality sponsored posts, an advertiser has the opportunity to leverage the voice and trust of the site to its maximum benefit. If an audience already trusts the blog, the sponsored post will fit right in. Sites that serve a community and often feature what to do in the neighborhood – such as Brooklyn Based for Brooklyn or PoPville for Washington DC – are natural fits for these kinds of posts.

Sponsored posts are unique in content, but have a particular form: they contain a native ad unit under the lead image for the advertiser’s logo, link and byline, as well as multiple target links in the body of the post itself. The posts contain social media buttons that are built in, which enable readers to easily share the content. The posts are optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. It is of utmost importance that it can reach an audience, regardless of where the content is viewed.

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#native advertising#sponsored posts


BlankSlate just completed the new Red Hook Waterfront site and the results look great.

redhoot-waterfront-homepage

This is not your typical commercial real estate site. The website belongs to The O’Connell Organization, a family owned and operated real estate development company that is behind many of the large Red Hook warehouses. The company has a substantial presence in the community, participating in many civic and economic development activities. Their marketing approach mirrors their business approach: accentuate the neighborhood’s unique attributes and focusing on the community while also promoting the role they play. The website has a key role in this strategy, acting as a place to display available commercial listings, while also serving as a blog for the community.

Red Hook Winery - Unique and Distinct

BlankSlate was engaged to create the site and on-going content for the site’s blog, as well as to promote listings and raise awareness of Red Hook by placing in-blog ads and syndicating the site’s blog content on other well trafficked Brooklyn sites.

The listings on the site are comprised of retail spaces, offices and warehouses that can range from $1,000 to $25,000 per month. The listings pages are filled with photos and include all the expected property information. All of the fields are customizable in the site’s admin, enabling listings to be showcased as needed.

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#Commercial real estate#O'Connell Organization#Red Hook#Red Hook Waterfront#Website design#Wordpress


Swamplot is the newest site to join the BlankSlate network, leveraging BlankSlate’s inContext WordPress Theme and ad sales capabilities.

Swamplot, founded by Gus Allen, is an uncompromising blog about Houston real estate.

Swamplot Logo

From the site’s about page:

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in Houston real estate, buy Houston real estate, sell Houston real estate, invest in Houston real estate, dream about Houston real estate, or simply live in Houston real estate, . . . well, here you go. You’ll find informative and entertaining stories about Houston real estate here at Swamplot.

Swamplot dredges up and spills out news, leads, and information about Houston homes and commercial property for sale, home design, home renovation, architecture, landscape, and Houston neighborhoods. The site covers the entire Houston real-estate pyramid, from the con men who founded this city to the newcomers you’re hoping will buy your home for far more than it’s worth.

Swamplot uses BlankSlate’s inContext WordPress theme. One of the advantages of using inContext is the ability to customize and style everything from the header to the colors to the fonts in the WordPress admin without coding — and when we say ‘everything’ we mean a site gets automatically formatted for desktop, tablet, and mobile. That being said, if custom features are needed, inContext can be easily modified. Swamplot had some features that  it wanted to carry over from its previous site, and a Wordpress developer was able to make these features in a couple of days work.

Follow Swamplot on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates to the site. To learn more about advertising on Swamplot thru BlankSlate, click here.

#Houston#Swamplot


Dan Silverman PoPville

We’ve written this post before and we’ll probably be writing it again in the future. PoPville, founded and run by Dan Silverman, was named the best neighborhood blog by the Washington Post. Earlier this year it was named best local blog/blogger for 2013 by the Washington City Paper for the second year in a row.

The Post notes, “Dan Silverman may have discovered the magic formula for writing a great neighborhood blog: several posts a day on real estate, restaurants and development … with cute animal pictures thrown in.”

We don’t want to give away any trade secrets… But if you’re looking for some tips, write about the things people care about, such as…

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#PoPville


An in-blog ad is a large, graphic ad that is displayed right in the main editorial column of a site. Unlike a traditional display ad, an in-blog is not delivered thru an ad server. Instead, it is uploaded and published like a regular blog post and tracked through the site’s outgoing link analytics.

In-blogs have a large format (ie. 600 x 500 pixels) and give space for more detailed messaging and calls to action than standard display (ie. 728×90/300×250 pixels). Additionally, the placement brings the advertiser to the most premium area of the site–the  editorial column. Compared to traditional display ads, in-blogs can draw higher click totals and click through rates over a short period of time.

For example, the in-blog ad below was published on Brownstoner for a commercial real estate listing and received a very high click through rate in the initial 24 hour period after it launched. That said, the rate diminished quickly after day one. Display banners, on the other hand, will give more or less consistent click-through rates during the duration of the campaign over a longer period of time, i.e. 30 days, 90 days, etc.

480VB_ad_600x600_8-1

The reason for the high initial numbers are the size and placement of the ad. The reason for the quick decline is that like any content in the editorial column, the ad will move down quickly, and then drop off of the first page.

Given this shorter shelf-life in comparison to traditional display ads, in-blogs are best used to market events, like open houses, classes, sales and other time-sensitive items. Here the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce used in-blogs on Brownstoner and Brooklyn Based 2 days in advance of the event’s launch to create awareness and drive interest during a period of time when readers made their weekend plans.

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#In-blog ad#Native ads


You might know Brooklyn Magazine, published by Northside Media, for its thought-provoking, addictive-to-read coverage of all things Brooklyn. You want to know where to find the best gluten-free food in Brooklyn? Or how the real estate market in Red Hook is doing? They’ve got articles about that.

Now all that engrossing content that keeps readers entertained and informed is optimized for consumption on desktops, tablets, and mobile; has improved SEO and social integrations; and is presented with a cleaner design and bigger photos.

Like many publishers today, Northside chose to refresh their site by moving to WordPress, and happily they also chose to expand their relationship with BlankSlate to help get this done.

BlankSlate inContext WordPress Theme CustomizerBlankSlate inContext Theme Customizer

BlankSlate used its inContext WordPress theme to enable Northside to get the sophisticated, minimal aesthetic Brooklyn Magazine is known for. The inContext theme enables publishers to create a site that meets their design vision, usually with no programming.

Brooklyn Magazine will generate more ad sales through BlankSlate’s sales team too. BlankSlate has been working alongside Northside Media’s internal sales team for several months, helping to optimize their digital revenue by offering the scale of BlankSlate’s publisher network. The sales relationship, plus the advertising capabilities built in to the inContext theme — rich media units, site takeovers, and sponsored editorial widgets — have already resulted in increased revenues and a more diverse ad portfolio.

With this spankin’ new site in place, the Brooklyn Magazine editorial staff can now create the witty, quirky, sometimes critical content their readers know and love and get it out more easily, to even more readers, and generate more revenues.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, the inContext theme, BlankSlate’s ad sales offering, you can contact BlankSlate here.

#Ad Sales#Brooklyn Magazine#inContext Wordpress Theme#Publisher Network


Social buttons

Good news for the publishers in the Blankslate network and the readers of their blogs! We added new social buttons across all of the blogs using our InContext theme for WordPress. Now, as pictured above, readers can share their favorite articles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, Tumblr and Pinterest. In addition, the Twitter button pulls hashtags from the categories and tags in the articles. As many of our publishers are actively sharing content via social media, these additional buttons will make it even easier for readers to spread the news too!

#Facebook#Google+#InContext#Pinterest#social media#StumbleUpon#Tumblr#Twitter


Brownstoner Manhattan Marketplace

Brownstoner, the largest site in the BlankSlate network, has just announced the addition of Manhattan rental and sales listings to their already extensive real estate marketplace. This is great news for home buyers and renters, as well as the brokerages represented, many of whom already feature listings in Brownstoner’s Brooklyn, Queens and Upstate marketplaces. There are now 13,500 listings in Manhattan. We could spend all day drooling over these gorgeous Manhattan apartments, like this one at 1025 Fifth Avenue!

Brownstoner Manhattan listing

In addition, real estate agents now have their own pages, which are search engine optimized to make finding a particular agent’s listings as easy as possible. You can find an agent’s page using the formula  http://manhattan-realestate.brownstoner.com/agent/agents-name. Agents who list their properties on Brownstoner’s Marketplace can easily login and view their stats to see how many people have been interacting with their listings.

We’re excited to see how people react to the new Manhattan listings. The pages started getting hits before the announcement went live!

Check out Brownstoner’s Manhattan Marketplace here.

#Brownstoner#Brownstoner Marketplace


We are pleased to report that last week we launched a newly designed Untapped Cities. In addition to handling the techy stuff, Untapped is also joining the BlankSlate Network, so we’ll also be handling the ad sales too.

Untapped Cities is a blog that focuses on urban life in cities around the globe.  Untapped’s “writers and photographers are in the streets, unearthing quirky places, stories and events. We’re interested in what’s unseen – whether hidden, unnoticed or lost in the past – and how it informs city life now and in the future.” Its similar in a way to sites like Atlantic Cities. Its approach to creating editorial, though, is quite different: content is crowdsourced from a community of over 200 contributors from around the globe. A small dedicated staff manages the contributors and helps foster community among them. There are weekly Google Hangouts, live events/tours, workshops and contributor get-togethers in New York City.

BlankSlate worked with Untapped to fine tune the site’s concept, the site’s design, and then rebuilt the site. We used our new inContext WordPress theme to redesign the site.

 

The redesigned site offers a number of improvements over Untapped’s previous setup. Untapped used to have three separate WordPress installations. This approach, which made sense as the geographical coverage area of the site grew, created extra management effort for the editors and more clicks for the readers. BlankSlate consolidated the sites into a single site. Now, the editors are more efficient and readers can more easily navigate the site.

Using the inContext theme made building this custom site incredibly simple. Our designer worked independently with the publisher, without the need for a developer to be involved. After installing the theme, you can immediately see a preview of the site. He then customized the theme through the familiar WordPress admin, previewing changes on the fly. Typically these kinds of interfaces sacrifice features for ease of use or vice versa. Not with inContext. Everything can be modified, from the header size to the font to the layout, without complication. It’s an all-in-one package for any level of customization. Since our designer knows how to do some coding, he also used the advanced customization feature to make some custom modifications.

 inContext also uses a responsive design, allowing Untapped to adjust dynamically depending on the device accessing it. It looks equally great on desktops, tablets, and mobile phones, all without the editors having to create more than one layout. That goes for any site using the inContext theme.

For more information about BlankSlate, the BlankSlate Network or the inContext theme, you can contact us here.

#inContext Wordpress Theme#Untapped Cities


Big things are happening here at BlankSlate! On May 1st we sold our QueensNYC blog to our partner Brownstoner. They’re going to transition the site and rename it Brownstoner Queens. Over the next few weeks, the site will take on Brownstoner’s voice and unique perspective on real estate.

Queens is changing quickly — there are tons of new residential properties being developed and a huge influx of young professionals are moving in to avoid Brooklyn-sized rents. Plus, Manhattan is just 10 minutes away by train. And of course there’s Queens’ long history of diversity and, who could forget, the food!

We started QueensNYC a year ago and its success reflects Queens’ own. As Queens grows, so must the site to keep up with this dynamic borough. Who better to take it over than Brownstoner? Brownstoner started in 2004 and rode the wave of change that hit Brooklyn, documenting it the whole way.

Just like with the original Brownstoner, BlankSlate will provide the technology side of everything and run the ad network that involves the other sites in our growing portfolio. So check out QueensNYC as it makes the transition to Brownstoner Queens. We hope you’re as excited as we are!

Brownstoner founder Jonathan Butler’s venture-ing into Queens [NY Daily News]

Brownstoner Queens to Launch Later This Month [Brownstoner]

 

#Brownstoner#QueensNYC

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