The Decline of Public Forums
About a year ago I decided to close Threadwatch so I could focus more on expanding this site. The Searchguid forums and site went away, and the domain name was recently auctioned off for $8,655, and it redirects to SEONews.com. John Scott, the owner of V7N, recently announced that he was stepping away from the site, and currently has it up for auction for $400,000 at SitePoint with a $500,000 buy it now price.
The bulk of V7N's earnings come from directory submissions, which is a business model Google kicked in the teeth many times last year. I am not sure how well those revenues will hold up. If you run an Internet advertising based business models selling ads to internet marketers targeting other internet marketers it is a rough rough business model. Outside of the newbie who has not yet got burned, we are generally aware, skeptical, and wary of advertising.
How much information pollution do you find in some of the larger public SEO forums? Will OpenID eventually protect public sites? How can public publishers add enough friction to stop spam without driving away talent?
Why You Know So Much
As internet marketers, we have a canary in the coalmine effect, where many of the trends we pick up on are later felt across the broader market. Why? Because competition is so fierce and there are so many people trying to push so many different scams each day that we get hit from every angle.
We use the web so much that we are more aware of new ad formats, new business models, etc. We profit from accidental clicks as soon as the model appears, and before the media knows we are aware of when and how it changes.
Our Competitive Advantage
The stuff that works in the internet marketing field, porn field, gaming field, or other high paying fields probably works well on the other parts of the web. But as we go, so do the rest of the web, but we typically have a 6 month to 3 year advantage over the rest of the web.
As software gets more sophisticated, spam bots get more sophisticated, membership site proliferate, people become more wary of advertising, and Google tries to keep more of the traffic on Google.com many public forums will die. Increasingly communities and web publishers will have two stores...a public one that keeps the brand represented on the web graph, and a private one which allows the owner to profit from the brand equity, trust, and user loyalty they built up.
Many traditional publishers are still shoving junk down our throats. How could we lose to that?
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