April 21, 2008: 5:18 AM EDT
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Six Apart jumps into ad business

Blogging software company will offer advertising network to its members.

By Jessi Hempel, writer

(Fortune) -- Six Apart is getting a makeover. On Monday, the San Francisco-based blogging software company announced an ambitious restructuring that includes the acquisition of creative agency Apperceptive, the launch of its own advertising network and consulting services and the opening of a New York office.

The goal: become a one-stop shop for bloggers big and small who want to make money on their musings. The revamp positions Six Apart to compete with blogging agencies like Federated Media, which sells ad campaigns for its member blogs, and Google Ad Words, which lets bloggers slap text ads on their sites. Says Six Apart CEO Chris Alden, "We're giving [bloggers] a third option. Our goal is to provide a better experience and more money."

Founded in 2001 by husband-and-wife team Ben Trott and Mena Trott, the company has made a modestly successful business out of providing the software bloggers - from your cousin Jane to large companies like the Washington Post - use to publish. The company's three main products include professional blog software Movable Type, hosted blogging software TypePad, and free ad-supported blog site Vox.

While Six Apart is one of the two market leaders in blogging software (along with WordPress, which Fortune uses), the business opportunity has remained limited.

Blogging was embraced as an easy form of self-publishing but once social networking came on the scene, many bloggers turned to social media diet on sites like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. To compete, in 2005 Six Apart purchased LiveJournal, a social networking blogging site largely patronized by teenagers. Though the site has a strong international following, U.S. membership has fallen off and after Alden took over as CEO last September, he sold LiveJournal to Russian company SUP.

As part of the restructuring plan announced Monday, Six Apart will form two new business units. The first, Six Apart Media, will tackle advertising. Bloggers can make money on their blogs by advertising with Six Apart. The company will partner with social media ad network Adify to develop advertising.

The second new business unit, Six Apart Services, will offer consulting for design and optimization to large publishers and corporate customers. "We've been selling ads against blogs for years," says Alden. "We have more experience in how you bring high-end advertising to a large network of blogs."  To top of page

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