Changes afoot

As hoped, I've been able to persuade some of the talented chaps at sister company 76design to help me out with Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition. Stay tuned for a cosmetic overhaul of this groaning old template some time in the not too distant future.

In other news, I'm also going to be experimenting for the first time with a little lightweight advertising in the sidebar. I've never done this before - in fact, I've expressed mixed feelings about the whole idea of blog advertising in the past, and I've never signed up for any AdWords stuff or anything like that, partly as a matter of principle.

But then a few months ago a great friend of mine, Robert Jenkyn, who works with a very smart media strategy company out of Montreal, started picking my brains about an idea he had to pitch one of their clients - Canada Newswire (CNW).

CNW have been looking to foster better relationships among certain "communities of interest" out there, specifically trying to figure out how they should go about engaging in the Canadian flack-blog-o-sphere (aka the troposphere). With a little help from me, Robert approached CNW with the idea of running some custom blog-based advertising, and they bought in.

It's taken a while for this idea to come through gestation, but I've just seen the creative they've produced and I'm really happy with the way it has all come together. So I'm selling out, baby.

I don't think this is the start of a trend for me. In general, I'm still not all that keen on the idea of carrying ads for ads sake. But the CNW Group provides a range of services that are directly relevant to me and my community, so it seems to be an appropriate and acceptable experiment. Oh - and they're paying me, of course. Not a huge amount, but I'm honour-bound to disclose that a sum of money will be changing hands.

Frankly, it's not about the money anyway. The more interesting things for me in all this will be gaining access to the click-through data generated by the campaign, and the feeling that I'm participating, in some small way, in the ongoing reinvention of CNW. As their head of marketing and corporate communications just commented on the phone:

"The times are changing. We need to think beyond the ASCII font of the newswire."

Damn skippy. Been a long time coming, CNW, but it's encouraging to see you running to catch up with your market.