‘Web 2.0′ giant Blogads calls Carrboro home

By Graham Russell
Deputy Design Editor

When Blogads moved to its new office on Weaver Street, founder and CEO Henry Copeland and his staff were worried about one thing: The signal for WXYC, their favorite radio station, didn’t reach into the building. That didn’t stop them, though.

“Now we’re streaming it through the Internet,” Copeland said. “So all is well in Carrboro.”

Blogads handles the advertising for more than 1,000 blogs with large readerships, including famous ones like Daily Kos and Perez Hilton. Copeland started blogging in 2001 and founded the company in 2002 after noticing a new voice emerge as a result the growing popularity of blogs.

“The network effect among hundreds of blogs,” Copeland said, “writing about the same issue or news item, produced insights that couldn’t be found in the old-school hierarchical news organization.”

As an online company, Blogads could be located anywhere, but Copeland thinks there’s no better option than Carrboro.

“Carrboro and Chapel Hill have a great mix of restaurants and nightlife and people,” Copeland said.

Copeland said that being in Carrboro allows Blogads to avoid being biased toward large markets like New York and Los Angeles, but doesn’t make it any less convenient to do business in the cities because its closeness to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

“If the Internet makes ‘outside the new inside,’ then Carrboro is right at the center of things,” Copeland said. “We can drive to RDU at 6 a.m. and be sitting in an advertiser’s office in New York by 9 a.m. and L.A. by 1 p.m.”

Just like Carrboro, Blogads operates mostly off-the-radar.

“We’re happy with that,” Copeland said. “Bloggers are the stars, we’re the infrastructure.”

Blogads’ business plan is much different than those of other popular programs like Google’s Adwords. The company uses a detailed screening process to make sure that its blogs are of high quality and popularity.

Copeland worked for almost 15 years as a journalist before founding Pressflex, a company that helps publications in Europe develop online popularity. He believes blogs are a sign of things to come in the reporting world.

“If you define journalism as ‘working for a newspaper,’” Copeland said, “I’m afraid that whole career path is going to get a lot smaller and a lot less stable.”

Copeland thinks the information gathering in the future will be dominated by forums, blogs and social news Web sites like Digg.com.

“That won’t be journalism, per se,” Copeland said, “but it will be the best we can do as a society that needs information to function.”

And when that happens, Blogads will be ready.

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