Posts about Business

Web 2.0: Yellow light

Fred Wilson on Web 2.0 and all that:

Last year at this time we were talking about interesting companies like Skype, Flickr, MySpace, etc.

Many of them are gone, gobbled up by the web 1.0 giants or the mainstream media companies.

In their places we are seeing second derivatives. I heard one business described as Google Maps meets delicious, and another described as Skype meets MySpace. When the first derivative hasn’t fully figured its long term business model (other than getting bought), the second derivates are pretty scary.

I am a contrarian at heart. This situation bothers me.

It doesn’t mean we are going to stop investing. But it does mean we are going to be more careful.

We have to raise our hurdles when others are lowering them.

Web 2.0: Advertising

Red Herring covers my ad panel yesterday. I’ll be writing up reflections later.

WeblogsInc sold to AOL

Rafat has the scoop (confirming rumors of the last few months): AOL has bought Jason Calacanis’ WeblogsInc. Whispered prices from $20 to as high as $35 million based on earnouts (that is, he gets bucks if it makes the bucks). Congrats to Jason. But AOL has a history of buying things and killing them.

Big ass ad

Sometime today (when my webmaster gets off the school bus), a big-ass ad will likely appear atop this page. It’s for a Warner Brothers movie and they came to me, which is cool. More on that later. I’m trying lots of ad things to try to learn: BlogAds, Burst, Google, Yahoo, Feedburner RSS. And today at Web 2.0 I’ll be leading a discussion on advertising in this distributed world. If you’re there, stop by. And buy an ad.

UPDATE: Well, I’m having problems with the ad and so it may not appear after all. I’ll tell the story as soon as I know how it turns out.

Advertising 2.0: An agenda for the Web 2.0 workshop

Here are my notes on a Web 2.0 workshop on bringing advertising into the distributed age I’m moderating Wednesday morning. Any reaction from anywhere welcome.

The participants are: Brian McAndrews of aQuantive, Mark Pincus of Tribe and more, Chas Edwards of FM Publishing, Matt Cutts of Google, and Dick Costolo of Feedburner… plus, most important, everyone in the room. I prefer this to be an unpanel, following the model of Bloggercons.

The question: How do we bring advertising into web 2.0: the post-mass-market, distributed-media, citizens’-media era? What metrics, tools, standards, and technology do we need? What new opportunities are there for advertisers and for publishers of all sizes and stripes? (Let’s skip the dangers for now.)

A few buckets to serve as background and frame discussion:

MEASURING:
Advertisers need distributed media to provide metrics. Distributed media also have an opportunity to measure (and monetize) new assets, such as trust, influence, timeliness, interaction, engagement, and also to measure (and monetize) new behaviors, such as swarming around people and tags.
* We need to rally round cookie sets and data reporting on the publisher side.
* We need other tools to serve cookies and report data (i.e., RSS readers).
* We need audience demographics and behavior.
* We need publisher data (subject matter, demographics, content safety…).
* We need protections against spam.
* We need to establish trusted networks.
All this should allow advertisers to select the “best” media, however they wish to define that — audience, demographics, influence, etc. — or allow publishers to serve the best advertising; it should increase efficiency and value for all and will support the growth of new media.

SERVING:
Today, it is hard for advertisers to find a critical mass of the best distributed media (will they bother to go to multiple networks or even individual sites and can those sites handle advertisers’ needs?).
* Do we need an open-source ad call that allows both advertisers and publishers to exploit the best opportunities on an ad hoc basis? Does this require some centralized auction marketplace?
* Do we need a network of networks?
* Do we need a sell-side (aka publisher-driven) structure that allows publishers, rather than advertisers, to place ads.
* We need the means to serve ads — and verify serving — in other media types — audio, video, RSS, etc. — and across other distribution channels —

MANAGING:
Advertisers will want to measure, act on, and audit performance. ‘Nuff said.

TRUST:
How will we create trusted networks of distributed media?

AND:
* What are the new and revolutionary forms of marketing that come from taking advantage of distributed media?
* Do we need a trade association for citizens’ or distributed media to set standards, do research, and sell our cause?

AOHell

Why, why, oh, why did I not sell that damned Time-Warner stock years ago? I’ve thrown out my knee kicking myself in the ass for that lazy stupidity.

Now Dick Parsons is saying that AOL is Time Warner’s best hope.

That isn’t a compliment to AOL. It’s an indication of just how screwed up AOL remains — as in, surely, it can only go up from here.

But it’s really an indication of just how bad Time Warner’s — and big media’s — prospects really are. It’s hard to see growth in magazines (and certainly not in newspapers). Cable is just biding its time until it loses control of our connectivity. Networks face nothing but new competition. The only good news is that they found a sucker for their music business.

I had some hope for salvation with the rumors that MSN and AOL would merge — except that I own Microsoft stock, too. I can only pray that Google is dumb enough to buy AOL…. or all of Time Warner. But I doubt it.

Citizens’ media is citizens’ business

Damn, I’m impressed: Terry Heaton just sent an email to Nashville bloggers inviting them to join a local bloggers’ ad network run with Young’s WKRN-TV, already a leader in blogging and citizens’ media, and the coincidentally named Jarvis Coffin of Burst! Media. I’ve long said that big media’s relationship with bloggers — especially local bloggers — should encompass content and promotion … and money! When we say we want to support citizens’ media, we should mean it. Terry and company do. WKRN’S email said:

As you know, WKRN-TV has been pioneering efforts to highlight your work and to help the local blogging community….

We’ve entered into an agreement with Burst! Media, one of the top providers of Internet advertising, to create an ad network here in the Nashville area that will include each of you, if you choose to participate….

In addition to the national ads that his company will provide, WKRN is also going to provide local advertising to the network via Burst! Ad rates from local advertisers are often much higher than national ads, so you will earn more money as the local thrust of the partnership grows. In fact, if YOU sell an ad, you will also be able to serve it to the entire network….

The advertising community has been slow to move into the blogging universe for a lot of reasons, and Burst! is affording an opportunity not available anywhere.

Think I should move to Nashville.

Losing control to gain control

In a guest post at GigaOm, Robert Young reacts to this post and draws out a convincing argument for why corporate executives have to lose control to consumers — who aren’t customers but are the boss — so they can, in the end, gain control. Hard to summarize: Just go read.