Online Ad Networks in Despair
Some ad networks are late with payments and slashing rates. There have been many reports of internet ad networks dying recently, and most of them deserve to because they add no value...they are all hat no cattle.
Publishing Based Business Models in Decline
Like the death of ad networks, many publishing based business models are in decline.
The yellow page companies that were worth billions are facing bankruptcy.
An encyclopedia that costs $3,000 is covering the field of SEO, but with the speed of information online there is going to be a cap on how accurate and deep a generalist volume can be. The same is true for most web publishing business models.
Most content is a commodity, and it is hard to build a loyal PROFITABLE audience if you are in a generic vertical like news. The New York Times is running on fumes.
Some of the most successful blogs now resemble the media they claimed to replace:
Almost all of the popular blogs today are commercial ventures with teams of writers, aggressive ad-sales operations, bloated sites, and strategies of self-linking. Some are good, some are boring, but to argue that they're part of a "blogosphere" that is distinguishable from the "mainstream media" seems more and more like an act of nostalgia, if not self-delusion.
Nick Denton has sold off 1/3 of his blogging empire and claims that we are in for an ugly online advertising contraction.
Domain name owners, which hold an easy to operate passive revenue stream, have seen ad based earnings drop and have been forced to sell off large chunks of their portfolios, as mentioned by Fabulous.com:
“Historically, the domain services businesses. . . . have generated the majority of their gross profit from intermediating advertising revenue. As the advertising component of the industry has declined, industry profitability plummeted. Many service businesses that rely exclusively on advertising are no longer viable and the industry is ripe for consolidation. Going forward the company sees secondary market domain name sales becoming a much more significant component of the industry . . .”
And those who have a lot of consumer driven media inventory are not faring much better:
P&G's Ted McConnell pointed to the drumbeat of complaints about social networks being unable to monetize their sites. "I have a reaction to that as a consumer advocate and an advertiser," he said. "What in heaven's name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?"
Are Networks the Right Approach?
The web allows you to connect with people and build communities based around a shared interest. Where is the value in going with a no named ad network to sell inventory when you can change your business model from being a publisher into being a publisher & retailer? Each day the network grows more efficient. During the downturn the best voices will keep building relationships, mindshares, and marketshare - even if it is not that profitable. Once the market returns they will grow faster than those who cut spending.
How to Make Your Marketing More Integrated & Build a Community
Advertise the Advertisement
Youtube allows you to advertise Youtube videos on a CPC basis. Rob Snell created a business card that advertised his conference panel.
Get People to Talk About You
The best advertising is not what you say about yourself, but what others say about you. That is why Graywolf launched Viral Conversations, a new blog oriented ad network around reviewing physical products and real world services, marketed by giving away great content on how to keep up with the latest buzz.
Video interviews work well (particularly when you are not as chubby as I am...I soooo need to diet, and am getting on the eliptical machine as soon as I hit publish on this post ;)
And if you can be the host of a great presentation by a guy like Seth Godin that is even better.
Let Seth talk about the importance of ideas like
- direct communication between the person who uses the thing and makes the thing
- amplifying consumers
- the power of speed
- the long tail
- product ideas spread...not advertising ideas
- its about focus, not size
- be scarce or ubiquitous
And sit back collecting inbound links. :)
Give people more data, do original research, quantify that research, write about topics that are not being covered, be quirky, be the first to report on in the news topics from the lens of your industry, bring back the past, or predict the future.
Give it Away
Copyright is losing momentum. Profits are is increasingly associated with social connection.
Rather than accumulating debt to spend on marketing try to create something that is free that you can give away. Sell food? Offer free recipes and a free online cookbook. Sell software? Give away a lite version. Looking to build a platform? Offer a strong API. Sell consulting or information? Offer with papers and/or a blog. As you gain exposure you can give away less and spend more time and effort making your customer relationship deeper and more meaningful.
Change is Constant
As an online entrepreneur you can't be afraid of change.
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