Observations on Techmeme's sponsorships
First, there's a "whole greater than the sum of parts" thing going on for the sponsor posts. The value in a just a few companies appearing on Techmeme for a month probably exceeds the combined value of fleeting appearances from a whole slew of companies. Most of my readers could name the three sponsors on my site when asked; the same usually isn't true for sites running Adsense type ads.
Second, the fact that a sponsor post results from a very deliberate and personal act by a real human, not a bet placed by a contextual matching engine, is a boon to sponsors. It makes the posts seem all the more engaging.
Third, people learned what sponsors were saying even when they didn't click on the links. (Sponsors nonetheless received their share of click-throughs.) This isn't surprising; it's been going on even before sponsor posts were introduced. People internalize news even from skimming headlines and summaries, and feel more informed in doing so.
Not all observations point to the strengths of this new model. Some headlines seemed just out of place when reposted on Techmeme, especially posts about events that had already passed. Fortunately, I've begun providing a simple means for sponsors to block inclusion on Techmeme, by including a small snippet of markup. (A feature requested by a sponsor and delivered a few hours later.) This should help sponsors avoid this problem.
The next month will see an interesting mix of sponsors. While at least one blog will cover the sponsor's products, much like the current sponsors, other sorts of blogs will appear as well. I'm looking forward to it!