Archive for March, 2007

Widgets and Attention

March 29, 2007

Widgets are the new black and we have seen plenty of new widgets appearing on the scene in the last couple of months, if not days. Soon, most pages that are generated by users will have widgets somewhere. Why? Because they are convenient and they allow easy personalization. Netvibes UWA is one step into the right direction, allowing widgets to be placed where ever they fit, in theory.

Widgets distract and widgets get attention, because widgets standout from the rest of the content presented on the site. Furthermore, since a widget offers a special take on something, presented by the user, it gets the attention it deserves. In contrast to ads that are displayed, widgets offer much more, for instance context. Since the user chooses to display the widget in whatever way he likes, we can be sure that this is really something of importance, in contrast to some ad stuck in the sidebar.

Widgets are powerful and grab the attention of the user, as long as you don’t overdo it, like Fred Wilson, for instance. His blog serves more as a directory of cool widgets, but it’s hard to gauge which widget gets attention over at his blog. Nevertheless, in the attention economy, a widget plays a vital role. Although just a small piece of code and also small in size when displayed in the sidebar, the widget grabs the attention of the user.

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How to send money online?

March 27, 2007

We are in a little dilemma. We don’t have the perfect solution yet to send users the money they earn through our website.

Ideally, this should work internationally and involve no paper, just a statement as pdf in an email, along with a url where a user can claim the money and transfer it over to his bank account or whatever.

Paypal offers the option to send money, but what about Google Checkout? It seems that they only allow for the customer to pay, not to get money.

Any other ways to distribute money to the users? Ideally, there shouldn’t be to many fees involved. Also, it should integrate well into our website and work mostly automagic.

We would like to offer the user a number of ways to get his money, so that they don’t need to join whatever tool we choose to integrate but rather take the tool they are used to.

I guess it boils down to Paypal, doesn’t it?

Revso – so far, so good

March 25, 2007

We started three weeks ago with our little project and so far it looks like everything works out according to plan. The development is 75% done, whatever that means, because we assume that the last couple things will be the most tricky to figure out. Our aim is to have an early alpha a week from now. The database layout is done, most of the core functionality as well, now the work is mostly statistics and widgets.

Although we are talking about disclosure all the time, we are not yet disclosing who is behind this project. We need to figure some things out before revealing who we are and what we are doing. We hope to do so within a week or two. Nothing special, it just needs to be dealt with before we announce something in public.

If you are interested in our beta, please send an email to revsoo at gmail dot com and we will inform you once we start.

Disclosure once again

March 25, 2007

In the recent Calacaniscast #19 beta, Jason interviewed Ted Murphy, the CEO of PayPerPost. Very interesting show, indeed, with the main topic being disclosure once again. We feel that the whole issue of disclosure needs to be addressed some more.

It’s not only a matter of putting a little button somewhere or adding a line of text in your post, the whole idea of PayPerPost is to influence the blogger so that he is willing to discuss a subject he gets compensated for. We think user-generated content should not be influenced by some other company that decides to have some topic or product discussed in blogs. The users should decide themselves what they talk about. When companies have an influence on the articles that get blogged, the whole trust in weblogs is at stake. Getting revenues for user-generated content can only work when it is assured that the blogger doesn’t get influenced in any way.

Disclosure is very important, but making sure that the blogger doesn’t get influenced is even more imortant. That’s why relying on advertising is so much better. Sponsored posts will always leave a bad taste.

Ryan Carson’s Three Point Success Plan

March 23, 2007

Ryan Carson showed three points that he finds critical for success:

– Who is it aimed at?
– Why will they use it?
– Will they pay for it?

We know the answers to points one and two, but #3 doesn’t work for us. We don’t want people to pay, we want them to earn money through us. That is a novel approach to some, but we think, a lot of people will find this rather useful, especially in the long run. So, yes, those points are good, but we would change #3 into “what’s in it for the user?”

Widgetization of the Web

March 23, 2007

A recent article on computerworld.com explains a little something about The Widgetization of the Web:

While the dot-com era focused squarely on aggregating data on the Internet, one of the most defining characteristics of Web 2.0 is the deconstruction of the Web into small, single-purpose applications called widgets or gadgets.

These small chunks of code can either run on a desktop or be inserted into Web pages. Widgets are gaining popularity among consumers because they allow virtually anyone to easily customize a Web page or social network with news, weather, podcasts, video and other content. Anytime a YouTube video, for example, is added to a non-YouTube page, it becomes a widget.

I guess the key aspect really is that consumers can put on their websites whatever chunks of content they desire. Widgets become extremely powerful when consumers decide to place stuff in widgets that they like and that they would recommend.

The recommendation engine as the new network

March 22, 2007

Jeff Jarvis wirtes about The NBC/Fox gigadeal on video and declares:

But it’s all about the recommendation engine as the new network.

Yes. Absolutely. Widgets and recommendations will change how traffic will flow across the web.

Disclosure of Compensation on Blogs

March 21, 2007

The whole disclosure issue is obviously a key factor when talking about creating an environment, where Bloggers can benefit from advertising. There are a few companies mentioned in the article WOMMA Supports Clear Disclosure of Compensation on Blogs, that take a very straight approach and offer paid blogging, thereby risking that the individual blogger loses his independence and starts blogging about topics he can earn money with. Nobody can really want that to happen. Even if it says “Sponsored Posts”, simply buying articles is the worst approach that can be taken.

There has to be some entity between blogger and the advertising dollars to ensure that the blogger can stay however biased he wants to be, without directly being influenced by an advertising campaign bringing money for his blogging efforts. A blogger should be able to generate revenues without being told what to blog, in whatever form. There should be a strict line between the advertising and the blogging, although the ads could lead to user-generated content as well. Obviously, disclosure is necessary, but since paid blogging still leads to directly influencing the blogger, it is only part of the whole aspect of how to arrange advertising for user-generated content.

Widgets and Advertising

March 19, 2007

There is an interesting debate going on about Monetizing Widgets, in which Brad Feld summarizes the following possible business models:

1. a new form of ad network: analogous to DoubleClick
2. a widget management system (WMS): analogous to CMS’s
3. a content distribution network (CDN): analogous to Akamai
4. an analytics business (Stats): analogous to pick-your-analytics package

Since our background is in advertising, model number one is most interesting to us. Brad Feld thinks, that this won’t be a big moneymaker and draws the analogy of something like Doubleclick for widgets.

We think this is the wrong approach. We don’t think a new kind of Doubleclick will emerge, trying to put ads around widgets and thereby trying to monetize the widgetspace. To monitize the widgetspace, a different path has to be taken. A path that involves the user more than the advertiser. A path that works well around The Long Tail and has less to do with campaigns as we know it.

Advertising performance in social networks

March 19, 2007

In a recently article on Valleywag, the performance of advertising in social networks was discussed. Facebook ‘consistently the worst performing site’ – but this doesn’t come as a surprise at all.

Why would you click on a simple banner in a social network? A banner leaves behind what makes a social network so powerful: the social relationship. The banner just sits there, it might target the right audience, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the social interaction of people within a social network.

So, why not make the ads social to some extend? Then suddenly you move from an advertising to a recommendation, which should be of more value, both to the users and the advertiser. Instead of bulk advertising you would get mouth-to-mouth advertising, and we think both users and advertisers would be happier with that.