Posts about glam

New video powerhouse


The amazing Samir Arora, CEO of Mode (née Glam), called with some impressive numbers on his company’s new platform and aggressive push into video.

A two-minute video illustrating 100 years of fashion gained 1 million views in six days, 10 million in 21, and now — a bit more than eight weeks out — has 58 million views. Almost three-quarters of those views came on Mode’s own network — where they can prioritize users based on relevance and influence; the rest on Facebook, YouTube, et al.

In two months, Mode is now the 13th video property according to ComScore; it was already the 7th web property.

Through this, Mode is building two big video revenues streams: half from prerolls (YouTube’s territory), the other half from distributing brands’ video content and from sponsorship of its own video content. Video, of course, has enviable CPMs running $20-$45 for this kind of content.

Note well that with Mode, creators always get paid for their content — whether as revenue share or for hire. Importantly, under certain circumstances, distributors also get paid.

Glam started as a network; that is what brought Samir and me together. It then set about building tools for content creation, curation, and distribution. Samir’s big lesson, he said, is that an ecosystem needs a platform.

Mode still is under the radar for many in media. I’d reset your radar.

Here’s VentureBeat on the these numbers; and Scoble, too.

Content in the social Mode

Screenshot 2015-05-04 at 3.12.06 PM

One underestimates Samir Arora at one’s peril.

Under most everyone’s radar, he built Glam — since rechristened Mode Media — as the seventh largest web property by audience, with 155 monthly unique users in the U.S. and 406 million worldwide. He did that by building a network. That’s what brought us together: our belief in the power of networks. (Disclosure: For a time, I advised Glam.)

Then Arora started experimenting with other forms of media. He opened Foodie as a curation tool gathering food photos with links to recipes and he found out how much traffic he could drive to content creators. At the same time, the company bought Marc Andreessen’s community platform, Ning, and used it to build tools for content creators.

And now he has unveiled a rebuilt Mode atop Ning. With it he is reversing the direction taken by most other media. Panicked by Facebook, Twitter, and the explosion of social, media companies have tried to add social to content (“Share me!”) or take their content to social platforms (e.g., Buzzfeed gloms onto Facebook like an oxpecker on a rhino and now Facebook the spider tempts news companies to publish their content in its web). Mode is going the other way: It built a social platform and is adding content to it.

The new Mode launched with 100,000 pieces of content, with a heavy emphasis on video, from its own creators and sites it’s working with. It has an easy tool to enable curators to gather and link to content from around the web. Those are human curators, not algorithms. It has content creation tools, including a video player. Those collections of content and recommendations will be embeddable (though as I write this, that function isn’t working yet for me). Altogether, Arora says Mode has 6,000 sites in its ad network, 4,000 of its own content creators, and 4,000 sites where it can distribute its feeds.

As is often the case with Arora’s inventions, it takes me a few days to understand his insight. With this relaunch, what I see is that Arora envisions the page-based web shifting to a stream-based web.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately and will probably write more about streams-v-pages soon. But in a nutshell, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and so many other social services and thanks also to the form factor of mobile, more and more of our attention is being taken up by streams rather than pages. We in media have little choice but to endeavor to plop our content into others’ streams so it will get attention. Thus the negotiations with Facebook, Snapchat, et al.

Arora has built an infrastructure to create streams for content. At the Newfronts advertising showcase, he bragged that he could take a YouTube creator’s video and program it into all the streams he controls and bring it one million viewers. Snap.

He also sees that the way to build loyalty and thus audience and usage is to enable people to follow the creators and curators they like. That is the architecture that made social media — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, et al — scale. So he has build following into Mode.

Mode’s challenge remains that you probably have never heard of it. It has not been a brand, it has been a network and then it became a platform. Now it needs to develop a media and social brand. And to do that, it is bringing inside all its sub-brands — Glam, Brash, Foodie, Bliss, Tend — under the new Mode. But Mode also has to expand its offerings from its mostly fluffly Glam roots — lots of fashion and lifestyle — and add more business, tech, news, and hard information. That’s what Arora says he will do, growing from 10,000 affiliated content creators to 100,000 — who are paid — and building more content brands. And, of course, he can offer his platform and skills to advertisers, helping them create and distribute — just as Buzzfeed sells its skills rather than merely its space.

At the DLD conference in Munich in January, I interviewed Arora and he offered a clear vision for where media success will lie, finding scale and value in building platforms — rather than just content — that in turn gather distribution at no cost through social connections. He put this complex slide on the screen (which I explain in this post):


At the Newfronts presentations a week ago, he simplified that view of the industry this way:

Screenshot 2015-05-04 at 8.44.27 AM

Note that to the left are the content creators. They can use the boxes to the right to distribute and exploit their work. Mode is positioning itself as a social discovery platform for professional content. I can’t know whether it will work. But then, I didn’t know that blogs and Twitter would work. I’ve learned not to underestimate that which I don’t yet fully understand.

DLD: The network model

I heard vindication for my advocacy of the network model of media online in today’s DLD panel on ad exchanges (aka networks) with Samir Arora of Glam, Christoph Schuh of Burda, Magid Abraham of Comscore, and others. Randy Rothenberg was moderator.

One of the most controversial posts I’ve ever written — politics and Dell aside — was about Glam and its network model of media, arguing that in the connected internet, this will be a major factor. Some agree. Some disagree. The ones who disagree are generally from big, old media and it seems they find the network model threatening. They sell their premium on being brands and destinations and they fear — but shouldn’t, I say — this opening up of their space. See my spat with the Times’ Martin Nissenholtz at the Online Publishers’ Association in which I argued media should be asking “what would Google do?” — WWGD? — and thinking distributed while Martin argued this his brand is worth our trip to it. Those folks argued with me that only they could sell quality because they owned their content; Glam owns little of its. One wonders, then, why the Times is now selling Freakonomics.

In today’s discussion, networks are critical to the future, Comscore argued, because without them, even the biggest online brands don’t reach that much of the audience that much of the time. The top four sites, the search monsters, have only 5% share of page views on the internet and 7% share of their users’ page views. So networks extend them. That is why AOL, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have been buying big ad networks.

But Glam is different. It is a content and ad network that curates blogs and sites for women and sells ads and shares revenue on them. Some say that because it isn’t produced by big media, its quality is low. But I heard today that Arora insists on no automated, Googly ads; they only deal with agencies. Networks online are often remnant space filled with dancing monkees. So he wanted to avoid that. When he took over Glam, he asked, “What would it take for advertisers to act on the internet as they act in traditional print?” He also asked: “What is the definition of media going forward?” His next frontier, he says, is to define prime time and prime placement on sites.

OK, so that’s his pitch. That’s just one network. My problem is that there aren’t more of them and that big, old media don’t sell them. Oh, they get involved in networks like Tacoda. But they don’t curate and enable and encourage outside distributed networks. That’s what I want to be a part of.

Halfway ’round the track

The Orlando Sentinel and Tribune Company went halfway around the track in the right direction — but not far enough — when they decided to stop devoting staff to national coverage of Nascar races, putting their priority and dwindling resources instead on local, which I believe is where they should be. As a result, they lost their Nascar writer, Ed Hinton, who they boast is the best in the nation. And they wish him well.

What I think they should have done instead is set up Hinton in business. If Hinton’s the best — and I take them at their word on that, not being a Nascar kinda guy — then I’d have proposed creating a blog and site for him and selling ads into it and syndicating content onto my newspaper sites where I’d also sell ads and share revenue there, too (the Glam model). Then I’d still have the benefit of his best-of-breed coverage — doing what I did best while linking to the rest — with less expense — none, really, because I’m just sharing revenue for sold advertising. It’s only upside for the paper. And in the long run, it’s upside for Ed because, as the best in the nation, he should be able to market himself freely with many such deals and build up the best damned Nascar blog anywhere, something he now owns and controls. There’s more risk for Ed but, hell, he’s now unemployed anyway. But he also takes with him a brand the papers helped him build.

That’s the relationship I think that UK football writer Rick Waghorn should have with the paper that made him redundant. That’s the relationship the New York Daily News could have with David Bianculli, the TV critic they laid off who now has his own site (they may not want to pay for him as full-time headcount anymore but they could sell ads for him and he needs that help since I see none on his site).

The funny thing is that some papers are reaching this relationship, not with their own former staffers, but with outsiders instead. The Washington Post and are syndicating my Prezvid. The New York Times reached a similar arrangement with Freakonomics. But I don’t see this happening with the people these papers know best: their own staffers.

So why doesn’t a paper get ahead of the curve and offer such a deal to its stars, the ones worth the investment? In the old days, the paper thought of itself as a product whose value was its brand and distribution. And there’s still value there. But now that papers are hiving off valued contributors and features like Ed Hinton, they don’t need to just do without. They can think like networks and imagine a new relationship with those stars that’s beneficial for both.

The next time a paper plans buyouts and layoffs — and they will keep coming without end — I suggest they offer another kind of deal: helping these former employees set up their own new businesses with a content and advertising network relationship.

A nest of lawyers

Kevin O’Keefe is inspired by Glam and ScienceBlogs to work on a network of law blogs. Good idea.