Remembering the Bygone Days When Ad Blogs Ruled the World

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a Chicago meet-and-greet being hosted by Adweek in conjunction with a profile of Chicago’s creative community the site recently published. The invitation was extended to me by David Griner, Adweek’s Digital Managing Editor.

I’ve known David for roughly 13 years, though this was the first time I’ve met him in person. Back in the mid-2000s Griner was one of the first wave of advertising news bloggers and the whole thing made me nostalgic for that period. He and Tim Nudd at Adfreak. Steve Hall at Adrants. Tom Biro and myself at AdJab. A handful of others.

It was a good time to be a blog writer. Everyone was in it together. Someone else’s success was good for the whole community because we were all linking to each other, leaving comments on each other’s posts and generally having a rich and interesting discussion online. This was before Twitter and Facebook and their role in shifting the hub of conversation.

AdJab used Adrants and AdFreak, along with “professional” publications like AdAge and others, as sources regularly, but it was always with a link and with something original to say. We weren’t aggregating in a way that just lifted the gist and reworded what someone else had already written. We all tried to add additional thoughts and context to make our own posts a meaningful addition to the conversation and the links back to the original meant people could see all points of view.

AdJab folded unceremoniously in 2007, just before the Super Bowl that year. Adrants doesn’t publish much anymore as Steve has moved on to other things. Thankfully Adfreak, for which I occasionally contribute, persists as part of Adweek and that site’s blog network. That’s a pretty good microcosm of the evolution of blogging as a whole in the last 10 years: Some keep going, some shift focus, some go pro and some simply give it up altogether.

I’ve had countless interactions with Griner over the last 13 years or so and have admired his writing and other skills for that entire time. Same with Nudd and others. But I’ve met precious few of them. This whole online thing is great at introductions, lousy at creating real world connections. The Adweek party provided a chance to not only have an in-person conversation but also a chance to remember fondly a time when we were all rooting and helping each other because we were all building this crazy world together as we went.

That’s Griner on the right.