Category: business

Personal Media = Personal Control Over Ad Revenue

A flurry of stuff in last few days about media, news, web links, news, revenue models, etc:

Here is about who owns what (control)… and gets what (revenue)… in the new world of web-mediated media.

Here is about new media companies not being able to monetize through advertising:

Here is about “Models for Preserving American Journalism”:

Here is what Craig Newmark sees as one of the pillars of trust:

“…a clear separation between reporting and financial needs.”

And something Fred Wilson says:

“If you are a content owner, the front door to your content has moved to a place you don’t control.”

Notice the common thread – separation – of:

  1. Content from revenue
  2. Content from consumption

Now, after having done my “selecting” and “linking” – here is what I think.

  1. The link economy is here to stay. Linking (along with selecting) are the two (yes, only two) basic generative mechanism of all we humans do.
  2. The current business of aggregating will also lose – to end users – the function and value of “selecting” and “linking” it now offers.
  3. Offering of infrastructure for “selecting” and “linking” will be the only business left – with a relatively diminished role in the processes of connecting production with consumption (compared to old media).
  4. End users will own and control the bulk of the media space – think of all kinds of personal (web-enabled) interfaces – blogs, microblogs, start pages, streaming services – that’s where most of the “selecting” and “linking” will be happening. That’s where most of the programming will be happening. That’s where most of the context creation will be happening. That’s where most of the content creation will be happening. That’s where most of the media consumption will be happening.
  5. We (as content consumers) will have full control over how, where, when, and what of our own consumption. We will be doing the bundling (classifieds no more supporting the news reporting, OK?).
  6. We (as content creators) will lose control over how, where, when, and what others consume.

The revenue model for content creators will change – from transactional “paying” to relationship-based “giving”. Yes, sounds like NPR – however, we will not need NPR – it will be more like PPR – where “National” is replaced by “Personal”. Remember the infrastructure of “selecting/linking”…

Just some thoughts… no real ending, sorry.

Ads On This Blog… And JuiceTorrent

Here is what Fred Wilson says back in June 2006 in a post on his blog titled “Ads on this blog“…

“I don’t like leaving money on the table. This blog does around 2 million page views per year on the web and another million plus views in my feed.

Those page views are worth real money and while I don’t need it, someone does.

[…]

I hope to generate $40,000 this year to charity with this blog. I am certain I’ll generate at least $25,000.

That’s real money that will get a tribeswoman in Africa a cell phone or a underprivileged child a scholarship.

So that’s why I run ads on this blog. I hope you agree that its a good cause…”

Fred is a “star” blogger with a big audience. So he makes a meaningful chunk of money (let’s say $36,000) to donate at the end of the year to charities.

Now… let’s assume that a typical unknown blogger could make an average of $12/year (that’s $1/month) in ad revenue from AdSense.

You’d have to put 3,000 such bloggers together to achieve what Fred does with his blog in terms of ad revenue. And you’d have to wait over 8 years before Google releases the $100 min checks to each of these bloggers… and you’d have to remind these bloggers and their audiences that the money was intended for charity. Not very practical… nobody does it.

Enter JuiceTorrent (see the JT widget in left column of this page)

With JuiceTorrent, 3,000 regular (non-star) bloggers (like me and most of you) can create and maintain a monthly revenue “torrent” of $3,000 flowing directly into the account of a charity… or multiple charities. No waiting for months or years, no writing of checks, no “donation” accounting (who cares about a receipt for a $12 yearly donation anyway). Added benefit – being part of an online community of supporters and actively promoting the causes you care about.

Without JuiceTorrent – we leave money on the table. With JuiceTorrent – we can pay for a scholarship for an underprivileged child. All it takes is embedding a few snippets of code on our blogs.

Personal notes:

  • I really, really can’t care less about the aesthetic implications of having ads on my blog (JuiceTorrent is set for now to serve text ads only though). Looking “sleek,” “clean,” or “non-commercial” (read “anti-commercial”) somehow doesn’t make it even close to the top of my priorities. Finding new ways to make the web meaningfully social does.
  • I don’t want to wait for the “ad-free” web of the future that may come or may not come about any time soon. If NPR and WGBH can put car dealers’ ads on their websites – for a good cause – so can I.

Read more about JuiceTorrent:

JuiceTorrent Is On!!!

JuiceTorrent Diagram

The points about JuiceTorrent:

  1. Gives organizations and individuals (we call them JT stars) the possibility to start their own self-expanding ad networks through the blogs and websites of their fans and supporters.
  2. Gives people (fans and supporters) an easy way to start and manage micro-streams of ad revenue from their own blogs and websites – and join them into meaningful “torrents” going directly to entities (JT stars) they choose to support.
  3. Gives the JT stars a fast and easy way to plug into and test/compare contextual ad markets (Google AdSense, YPN) without the hassle of changing ad code and micromanaging ad placement.
  4. Makes (ad)sense out of the largely unused micro-pools of ad space controlled by the new class of (personal) media owners and publishers – “the people formerly known as the audience.”
  5. Creates a new category of social vectors across the online identities of people and organizations – adding the moral and material dimension of “supporting” to the existing “linking,” “friending,” “visiting,”and “following.”
  6. Separates “utility” advertising from “high quality” content while keeping the economic link between them. Mortgage ads on my blog where I rant about home prices will support the independent star blogger/journalist/artist I admire and read daily… or the Red Cross… or both. JT “stars” can stay as high minded, ad free, and/or commercially non-viable as they wish – while the ads on my blog can be trivial, pedestrian, useful, and indeed effective.
  7. Gives musicians a possibility to establish ongoing flows of exchange – streaming music for streaming support – as opposed to the discreet consumption/transaction models of the industrial era past.

We are now actively looking for candidates for JT stardom – nonprofits, star-bloggers, musicians – to start them up with JuiceTorrent.

Please, contact me – in comments here… or by email (emil at sotirov dot com).

JuiceTorrent… Make Your Own Ad Network

First, let me state the obvious: all I do – is co-doing… with my partners, team, my wife and the people I meet, read, and follow. This post was, in fact, suggested by one of my partners. So here it is…

December 1991 – I write (in this paper) that “There is no … author/audience … no text, but always, and only, a con-text.” Seventeen years later (July 2008) – Umair Haque is almost there (with this strategy note)… by telling us “There is No Consumer” and by suggesting UGC should, in fact, mean “User Generated Context.”

April 2005 – I co-found Aidpage Inc (aidpage.com) – with the tag line “People Helping People.” Three years later (July 2008) – a Deloitte study (by Beeline) concludes: “The tribalization of business is all about ‘People Helping People.'”

March 2007 – I co-found People Networks Inc. About a year later (February 2008) – Dave Morgan, founder of Real Media and TACODA (acquired by AOL in July 2007), says – in a post titled “The Future: People Networks” – “To me, it’s all about the growing role of “people networks“… promptly followed by AOL announcing (May 2008) the creation of a new business unit called “People Networks.”

Currently – we work on a web service called JuiceTorrent with a tag line “Create Your Own Ad Network.”

Clay Shirky Talk in Harvard – February 28, 2008

Clay Shirky on his new book, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” (6PM on the Harvard Law School campus, location TBA).

In story after story, Clay masterfully makes the connections as to why business, society and our lives continue to be transformed by a world of net-enabled social tools. His pattern-matching skills are second to none.“-Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect

From the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard:

All events are free and open to the public… Invite your friends, students, colleagues, co-workers, fellow faculty, research assistants, interns, family, and others to celebrate and collaborate with us. Please don’t hesitate to forward and blog this information.

These events will take place on the campus at Harvard Law School unless otherwise noted, with more information on time, venue, and topic posted on the events page. The events page also includes a complete list of luncheons and other events, which we hope you’ll also be able to join us for!”

One More Thing The Internet Could Disrupt – Car Ownership and Sales

Here we go – I’m back on this blog after a long hiatus.

And it’s Fred again (he’s good at this) – making me share a “vision” I had a few days ago. The idea is probably in the heads of other people for some time already without me knowing (see Fred’s reply to my comment).

Here is what I posted as a comment on Fred’s post:

How about transforming the car ownership into an investment type of thing.

Imagine people being able to lend their own cars for the times they are not using them. Or even making a small business out of owning a few cars. Everybody sets their own prices.

Think of Zipcar – but without the centralized ownership of the cars.

Think of an Internet platform (could be open source… or even at the level of a protocol may be) which supports the data and logic for such a distributed environment.

Imagine the effects of a dynamic price competition for a short term leased transportation… not to speak of the long term disruption of the car sales market… not to speak of all the “green” goodness coming out of it.

The hardware could be developed and sold by any vendor.

This thread was interesting too:

…something could be done on a smaller (local) scale… then made easily replicable as a setup… and then all such nodes could be connectable… and we’d have a bottom up movement.

In fact, Zipcar could open up their platform – and become the Goggle/AdSense of cars. Scott Griffith, do you read my blog.

New Tagging Service from Google

I want such a service. Google should offer such a service.

Give me a feed of keywords from your search index corresponding to the page I serve… so I can display them as a cloud of “search tags” … working as predefined automated searches.

A few days ago I was reading/commenting a post on A VC’s blog – where Fred Wilson talks about his “learning from Flickr.” The last of his ten points caught my attention: “Machine tagging (autotagging) is the next big thing in web 2.0.”

My first reaction was – what’s the big deal about machine tagging – thinking about some sort of automated tag extraction at the moment of inputting a piece of content into a system – how would that be much different from semantic search engine indexing?

Only later did I realize that Fred had in mind – mostly, it seems – the behavioral tagging occurring when a site records and displays user gestures in context – ala Amazon’s “customers who viewed this… also viewed…”

But misunderstanding being often the way of creative thinking – the idea came to me about a new type of web service from the likes of Google.

Why not have Google’s index out in the open, on my web pages – as a contextualized self-updating interface to related content – perfectly in synch with our common AdSense based interests. A simple click on a “related” keyword (close to the main content) is 10 times (my educated guess) easier than having to come up with good search words (too much thinking) and typing them into a search box (too much work) somewhere else on the page.

Web links are THE web interface… not search boxes.

We had “aidjumps” (my partner Ivan coined the term) on Aidpage since the very beginning in 2004. We would take user created tags and offer them also as preset Google searches. (We had to take these “aidjumps” down because of a conflict with the AdSense terms of service. For another unrelated reason, you won’t even see tags now on Aidpage… we’re working on a major upgrade.)

The idea is that Google may offer such a free web service to anybody quite easily – as an additional discovery interface. In a way, it sounds fair – I allow Google to index my pages but I want Google to give me back the results of the indexing – as tags that I can put back on my pages.

The whole Google index returned back to the periphery… exposed in the original contexts from which it was extracted… feeding back traffic to Google. Each such tag is an immediate Google search… much easier than using a search box… sending people to Google search results – what could be better for Google, or for any search engine for that matter.

People tend to forget that Google’s engine is not some sort of a super smart AI based meaning extraction machine. The smart thing about Google’s search engine was always the relatively simple recording and computing of the original human social gestures on the web (a.k.a. web links). Web links are the original social bookmarks too. It is this early social Web2.0 thing inside Google that made Google great… and hugely profitable.

Add to this the personal bookmarks Google now collects through their toolbar…

So, if Google’s greatness relies mostly on the social and personal bookmarks collected from my web pages and my browser, why wouldn’t Google give me back free RSS feeds of my tag clouds – on my web pages, my browser, my RSS reader…

I want to know what Google knows – immediately – without the cumbersome search box between us.

The exploration/discovery experience would gain much if we combine user generated tags (author self-tagging + social bookmarking), local behavioral tags (footprints, etc), and search tags from the likes of Google with their machine power and global view of the web.

UPDATE (October 2009):

Well… Google just did what I suggested here almost three years ago – see Google Related Pages and Search Words.

Thank you Google… 🙂

Beyond Broadcast, May 12-13 2006

Beyond Broadcast: Reinventing Public Media in a Participatory Culture

“… an open convening at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School… to explore the thesis that traditional public media – public broadcasting, cable access television, etc – face a unique opportunity to embrace new social media models – podcasting, blogs, social software, etc – and create a stronger and more vital public service.”

I’ll be there… happily “browsing” interesting people.

Listenomics…?

Read about it in AdAge… I saw it via Jeff Jarvis… Here is a “free” version

Here is a snippet:

“Hear that?

In the distance? It’s a crowd forming — a crowd of what you used to call your “audience.” They’re still an audience, but they aren’t necessarily listening to you. They’re listening to each other talk about you. And they’re using your products, your brand names, your iconography, your slogans, your trademarks, your designs, your goodwill, all of it as if it belonged to them — which, in a way, it all does, because, after all, haven’t you spent decades, and trillions, to convince them of just that?”

And one more…

“If the conversation is dominated by consumers themselves, and they’re paying scant attention to the self-interested blather of the marketer, who needs ads — offline, online or otherwise? This raises the question of what agencies are left to do. “

See related:
Battelle on Disintermediation in AdAge… and My Comments

Give a Platform to Your Customers and Let Them Talk

Consumer-generated media exceeds traditional advertising for influencing consumer behavior, finds Intelliseek study (via Emergence Marketing). Consumers are 50 percent more likely to be influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations from their peers than by radio/TV ads… see press release from Intelliseek.

Advertisers of the world… stop spending on “pushing” image and message… it doesn’t really work well anymore… in the near future it won’t work at all.

Invest in Aidpage instead… 🙂 … or in similar projects… Give a platform to your customers and let them write, talk, sing, make pictures. You don’t even have to be “creative”… let them be creative. Do not judge or mediate. Now, just imagine how will they think of you.

My Wife – One Cool "Boston Area Creative Type" – Says CREATE Magazine

My wife Virginia (dba Zayko) was selected to be featured in the main story (Branding Your Creative Business) of the Fall 2005 Boston edition of CREATE Magazine – along with only three other “creatives” from the Boston area.

“We unravel the mystery behind cutting-edge branding by revealing what creative types in Boston are doing to brand their own businesses” – says CREATE Magazine.

Linda K. Pilgrim (the writer) explains the strength of the Zayko brand as coming from a mixed “professional/personal touch.”

Gina is given almost a page of precious “professional press” space – in a story about the holy grail of marketing and design – branding. Not just any branding – but branding of the creative business itself.

I feel a mounting pressure inside me – to stop bragging. Ok… that’s it.