Wall Street Journal on Denton and Six Apart

The Wall Street Journal has had a close focus on blogging in the past 48 hours.

Yesterday, the paper published an interview with Nick Denton, founder of the Gawker Media range of web properties especially popular with US audiences. Denton – an expat Brit – has made a big impact that has rattled the traditional NY media scene, and runs blogs as comprehensively different and influential as gadget site Gizmodo and the politico-sex-gossip site Wonkette.

In the format of questions and answers, Denton comments on advertising, sponsoring blogs and blogging etiquette.

Choice comments:

WSJ: Name two interesting moments in blog-ad history.

Mr. Denton: The first most significant development is Google’s AdSense. This enables small websites – like weblogs – to at least fund some of their costs without having to build an advertising sales force. It provides very good targeting of text ad to content. If there is an item about Palm Pilots, then Google will supply ads about Palm Pilots automatically without any need for manual intervention. For certain topics, the revenues are quite meaningful. There are some websites, like a site called PVRblog, all about personal video recorders, that pretty much cover their running costs with Google ads and nothing else.

The other development, in the last six months, advertisers like Nike and Audi are discovering blogs and engaging with the medium. I think it shows that blogs can attract innovative, brave advertisers, not just technology advertising, not just performance-based advertising, but classic brand advertising.

WSJ.com | Questions for… Nick Denton (subscription required)

(As a related aside, see Steve Rubel’s post about Nick Denton yesterday, referring to a scratchy piece in the New York Sun newspaper.)

On Tuesday, the WSJ profiled Ben and Mena Trott, the youthful founders of Six Apart, makers of the Movable Type blog publishing platform and owners of the TypePad blog hosting service.

The article reviews how the Trotts started Six Apart just three years ago – they ran the fledging business from the spare bedroom of their San Francisco apartment, and the software could be downloaded free – how they developed Movable Type, launched TypePad last year; and comments on how the company’s rapid growth has alienated some in the more purist blogger community as they began to look at the opportunities presented in the corporate market.

Article keynote:

Six Apart faces no shortage of competition. At least three dozen companies produce software for bloggers, though many are tiny. Google Inc. last year bought San Francisco-based Pyra Labs and its software called Blogger. According to Technorati, Blogger is the most widely used blogging software, with LiveJournal, owned by Portland, Ore.-based Danga Interactive Inc., ranking second while Six Apart’s products come in third. (Six Apart argues that measure is misleading because many Six Apart blogs, such as those behind firewalls, aren’t measured by Technorati.)

One way for blogging software creators to make money is through corporate customers. Blogging is rapidly evolving into a business tool, as companies adopt the idea of frequently updating postings to connect management with employees and executives to customers.

In the past few weeks, Six Apart has made further strides, offering localized TypePad services in more European countries (see my post on that) and raising $10 million in venture funding just last week (post).

Oh, and the WSJ explains where the name ‘Six Apart’ came from: “The dark-haired duo are high-school sweethearts born six days apart, hence the inspiration for the company’s name.”

WSJ.com | Folksy No More, Blogger Firm Taps Big Clients (subscription required)