Pet bloggers from across the country came together at Blogpaws 2014 in Henderson, Nev., last week to confer, compare notes, learn and meet brands.
While most of the sessions dealt with blogging issues – how to get better web traffic, legal issues facing bloggers, social media, running giveaways and making money as a blogger – several topics marked trends that are important to everyone who loves animals and gets information about them online.
Here are six trends we noticed:
- Media are fragmented. Those cozy days of yore when the whole family sat down to watch one screen, selecting from three channels of information are gone, gone, gone. Today, every member of the family has at least one screen and often three or more. Each screen offers millions of choices. The trusted voices of favorite bloggers can have just as much power as the major networks of yesteryear.
- Bloggers can deliver customers, and the big brands know that. Everything from product reviews to educational posts can be bought and paid for by a brand. The Federal Trade Commission knows that and requires bloggers who receive payment, compensation or free product samples to disclose that on posts. Blog readers should be alert and read those disclaimers carefully. This is not to say that a sponsored post is misleading or not useful. It’s just a reminder to know when you’re reading an independent opinion – and when you’re not.
- The human–animal bond has a significant impact on human health and quality of life. The Human-Animal Bond Research Initiative is investing in studies to measure and quantify this effect. Every dog lover knows that petting a dog’s fur is calming. Measuring and defining that process may lead to a time when a mainstream physician writes a prescription for “fur time.” Keynote speaker Kate Hodgson, DVM, MHSs, CCMEP, spoke of her work teaching family physicians to incorporate the presence of a pet in a household in their strategies to improve patient health. (More will appear on this topic in future posts.)
- How we feed our dogs is changing. Feeding Fido has come a long way from table scraps, cans and kibble. Long-standing companies like Evanger’s, founded in 1935 by a breeder of Great Danes, were built on core values seem quite modern today — quality ingredients free of harmful additives and preservatives. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, founded in 1939 with a focus on quality ingredients customized for special needs also resonates well today. Raw food and frozen raw food are common in pet stores today. Companies like The Honest Kitchen and WellyTails, Inc., offer dehydrated food for dogs with human grade quality and nearly the same convenience as opening a can.
- Clothing is the new fur for pets. In certain sectors of the pet world, mere collar, tags and leash are much too casual. Conference halls and session rooms were dotted with dogs who dress. There were feathered ear ornaments, ruffled chiffon dresses with trains, sunglasses, goggles, brocade collars, formal dress vests, combo harness-tag-attachment-coats. One pair of dogs even had four changes of clothes for each day.
- Technology is entering dogs’ lives as it has ours. No, no one was selling smart phones for dogs at BlogPaws 2014. But several exhibitors offered high tech lost-dog-finding tools. Instead of microchipping, which is invasive and only readable by a vet or animal shelter with the right equipment, new systems rely on QR codes, GPS or photos and a facial recognition systems to reunite lost dogs and their owners.
Stayed tuned because we’ll be writing more about these trends in upcoming posts.