Posts Tagged ‘online advertising’

When are Tweets Worth Paying for? And how much money would YOU make?

February 28, 2009

Dawn’s Plan is about making money from your social media activity, whether or not you have a blog.  And with some of this money, you could pay for content to enhance your own offerings (like running a comic strip on your feed) or just for your own enjoyment (like downloading songs or utility apps).

So nobody would have to put in money via a credit card or Paypal or whatever.   The system itself would allow you to earn money and spend money for digital content.  It would be its own economy.  The “digital economy” that people have long anticipated but that has never materialized in any meaningful way, except for Apple and a few others.

Most people would make money via advertising.  That is, they would choose ads that they would like to run on appropriate pages they create.   And as their friends, family and followers engage with the ads, they would earn money.

And then some people would also make more money via other digital content they create, like for cartoons, apps, songs, poems, stories and so on.

But what about somebody like Karl Rove, who is now on Twitter?  Somehow I can’t picture him picking out ads to run next to his tweets.  And maybe you wouldn’t want to do that either.

If songs and apps are worth paying for (and iTunes prove they are), then under what conditions would somebody’s stream (like a FriendFeed or Twitter feed) be worth paying for?

Personally, I’d be willing to pay up to $.25 cents a month for the following feeds (again, out of the money I’m earning via the system, so it’s not coming out of my job’s pocket).

1.      Someone who collects the best information there is about X subject on an ongoing basis.

2.      An interesting inside look into a job or position I’m interested in.  So if my goal in life is to become a cameraman in Hollywood, then I would pay a cameraman in Hollywood to tweet what he does during the day.

3.      Instructional knowledge, like a blacksmith who can tweet (along with photos and maybe videos) how he makes knives.

4.      Vicarious support for something I’m going through, like a woman could chronicle her weight loss progress and feed me tips and motivation.

5.      The “first look” at art and entertainment by some favorite creators – like cartoonists, photographers, animators, etc. – with personal commentary, behind the scenes photos, etc.

6.      Collections for charity – like celebrities Twittering their lives and giving the proceeds to save dolphins, or whatever.

 

If you had 5,000 followers and earned 80% of the $.25 each month, that’s $12,000 a year in earnings.  Not bad.

How would that compare to making money off of advertising?  Again, let’s say you have 5,000 followers. If you put out 3 posts a day (long, short, whatever) with three very targeted “offers and invitations” attached, and the average “engagement rate” to each one pays you $.05 (a conservative estimate) , and 2% of your readers engages with just one of the ads per post (since these ads would be relevant to their lives and most likely entertaining) , that would earn you $5,475 in one year.

Of course, when it comes to advertising, the things you write about and the people you attract would impact your earnings.  Some people won’t pay attention to that and just naturally talk to their friends, family and co-workers, come what may.  Others will see this as a business opportunity and put more thought into it.

The one thing that everybody will have to stick to if they want to be successful, is to only promote the products and services that they actually use and are willing to legitimately endorse.  We each have an average of 150 brands we are loyal to that satisfy 80% of our daily needs.  So most of the ads would be offers and invitations regarding these, as well as our favorite places to dine locally, etc.

So is this crass commercialism that will destroy our enjoyment of social media?  Yeah, some people will think so, but I don’t.  I believe most people will see this as a service.  The truth of the matter is, if our purchasing is guided by people we trust , then we won’t waste so much of our money.   And if we are in control of ad distribution, then advertisers will have to be more accountable to their customers.  Money won’t be enough to distribute ads.  Companies will also need goodwill.  And good ads!  No more sitting through poor, irritating commercials.

Besides, each person can override the “display the highest paying ad” system (similar to AdSense) and decide to distribute an ad no matter what the owner can afford.  This ensures that small companies will have as much access to the market as giant corporations.  Very cool.

My plan gives control of advertising to users, and also lets users own and control their social graph and be compensated for its use.  If that’s “commercial,” then good.  For two hundred thousand years social networks were also economic networks, and they should rightfully be so again.  If everybody participates on an equal playing field, then there is nothing crass about it. 

Personally, I think Facebook and others who throw ads in our faces that are irrelevant and intrusive (and on our own pages that we’ve created!) so that they can become billionaires is what’s crass.

We need a true, functioning digital economy so that people around the globe can earn money with little environmental impact, even those in poor countries with few natural resources.  My plan allows the world to “drill, drill, drill” human talent, an infinite resource.  It also ensures we can regrow the economy from the bottom up by injecting trust and confidence back into consumerism. 

Would you rather work in a factory or create your own works?  Would you rather buy something that will sit on a table collecting dust until its sent to a landfill someday, or would you rather buy something that entertains, enlightens and/instructs?

During this recession that could potentially move into a prolonged depression, do you want to help the individuals and companies you care about survive?

If you think keeping the status quo is worth destroying all these benefits, then I hope you’ll make your case in the comments.

Offered: Online Payment Plan for Print

February 25, 2009

Michael Learmonth has written an article for AdAge called Wanted: Online Payment Plan for Print, subtitled: As Everyone Weighs in on How to Save the Business, the Question Is Whether Consumers Will Cough up for Content They Can Get for Free.

I’ve spent years monitoring this problem and just about as long incubating on it, and while my plan – that is “Dawn’s Plan” – may not be perfect, I believe it is the best hope for saving journalism.

The key to solving the “how to pay for journalism in a digital age” dilemma is to understand the Square Triangle and adapt it to the Web, as I’ve introduced here.

Journalism has been supported by advertising for at least a few hundred years and there is no need to deviate from that success now.  The key is to implement an advertising system that actually works.  As Mr. Learmonth reports, banner ads certainly are not it.  CPM is a total waste, and CPC generates massive fraud.

Here is an outline of how my plan works to monetize journalism via effective advertising:

1) First, we create a substitute for email (I call it Swig) that is based on the same technologies as Twitter and Friendfeed.  The space is divided as we naturally divide and manage our offline space: Intimate, Private, Social and Public.  Newspaper and magazine stories will be part of the public feeds, as will advertising. 

2) Users of Swig will be able to “thin slice” themselves into their roles and interests or “hats.”  So you will participate in social and public discussions (and even some private conversations) based on whichever one of your hats you choose to currently wear.  Not only does this allow members to easily find information they will be interested in (and allows the system to aggregate all the best information related to that hat), but it also creates space for very targeted ads.  An elegant low-tech user-empowered alternative to all the nefarious data mining that currently drives ads.

3) Key to making this work is to acknowledge that the above ad inventory (i.e., the space for ads that is generated when you converse online) rightfully belongs to the person writing the content.  Users will therefore get to choose which ads are allowed on their pages, if any; in other words, you will promote only those goods and services you wish to support and only where you want them to be.  As your social graph (i.e., your friends, family and followers) engages with these ads (which can be different types of multimedia, depending on the ad’s goal), then you will earn money.

4) Now this is where journalism comes in.  Professional media will get “first engagement rights.”  Remember, you make money when your friends, co-workers, etc. engage with the ads you have chosen for your pages.  But how are you exposed to the ads in the first place?  The ads will be fed to you attached to news articles related to the hat you are wearing as you surf information.  When you yourself engage with these ads, you don’t make the generated money, the media outlet does.  Not only that, but if you choose to “swig” one of these ads [that is, take it and put it on your appropriate page(s)], then when your social graph in turn engages with these ads, the media outlet will continue to earn a cut.  And as your friends swig ad copies off of yours to expose to their own social graphs, you and the media outlet will both take a cut of generated income.  So newspapers and magazines will be paid by readers’ attentions who aren’t necessarily their own readers! 

5) This system requires that newspapers and magazines break up their feeds into the same hats that Swig users create.  Sports Nut, Movie Buff, Dog Lover, Political Junkie, Business Owner, Catholic, Biker,….  The reality is, professional journalists and everyday folks write about the same things.  Media hats and user hats will not be in conflict but will naturally conflate.

6) Okay, so where do the ads that are on your news article feeds come from?  From the existing ad departments of newspapers and magazines.  These departments are underutilized assets that should be leveraged.  Facebook is hiring tons of ad people.  That’s crazy, to my mind.  They should stick to technology instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and their own corporate culture.  There are already boots on the ground in every community in almost every country around the world.  This system makes local advertising as feasible and effective as national advertising, which will put billions of dollars into the hands of newspapers, magazines and Swig users.  For the first time, demand generation advertising will work online.  (Search is about demand fulfillment and does nothing to create demand.)  Creating brand awareness and increasing consumer demand worldwide will help save the global economy as well as journalism.

Will this work?  One indication that it will is the fact that there are over 200 million abandoned blogs on the Web.  That’s a lot of people wanting to “join the conversation” but who found it too demanding, too troll-filled, or too lonely with nobody commenting back.  Why be stuck to a rigid format that demands you focus on one or two subjects if your desire is to build up a big enough audience to earn money?  Why can’t you earn money from one post here about this subject, or another post there about that subject?

What Dawn’s Plan essentially does is make individual users the center of their own online universe.  Information will orbit you, rather than you having to go to multiple websites.  And your every contribution, no matter how much you participate, can be potentially monetized.

Newspapers and magazines need to be able to orbit users where we are and where we’re talking, instead of having only destination sites.  If they thin slice their feeds the way Swig users will thin slice themselves, then the attached advertising will be targeted and appreciated as a service rather than an irrelevant affront. 

This system elevates readers as co-publishers who have a financial stake, too.  If newspapers and magazines are willing to allow that, then they can continue to make money in this digital age.  Yes, they will have to share it, but they will still get a lion’s share. 

If newspapers refuse to do this, it’s doubtful that they will survive.  Without effective online advertising, it’s very unlikely that existing newspapers will make it.   And until and unless consumers themselves get control of ad distribution, online advertising will remain broken.

Of course, some users will make a lot of money and others will make little, but having advertising recommendation-based means everybody should have a lot more confidence in their spending (which will again help the economy!).  Furthermore, you will undoubtedly be exposed to special offers and invitations, so even if you don’t earn a lot of money, you can potential save a lot of money.

With some of the earnings, users will be able to buy digital content from artists, photographers, app developers, musicians and so on, which will make their pages more alluring and help them make more money off advertising.  It’s the same way newspaper syndication works, just on a micro level.

The Square Triangle will succeed if only it’s implemented.  And it won’t be that difficult to execute.  There is no required technology that doesn’t exist right now.  It’s simply a matter of partnering technology with anthropology and merging all stake holders in a symbiotic fashion.

If you want more details, look here.  You can also read my other posts, as they are all pretty much related to my plan in one way or another.

The Internet’s Destiny: Five Truths

February 23, 2009

I’m honored that yesterday, Louis Gray – an extremely prolific and well respected social media observer and commentator – named Dawn’s Plan as one of his “five new blogs to watch.”  Since I’m getting new readers here because of it (Thank you, Louis), I thought I’d state my basic beliefs that inform everything I write about here.

 1) Business Models must be Distributive

The Digital Age is inherently about undoing the most egregious economic imbalances created by the Industrial Age, not creating more of them.  There is little difference between getting obscenely rich off the backs of others and getting obscenely rich off the brains and hearts of others. 

To his credit, Mark Zuckerberg recognized the value of each person’s social graph.  To his failure, he has yet to acknowledge that your social graph belongs to you and you should be compensated for its use.

Zuckerberg is a billionaire on paper while the Facebook membership that makes the network valuable earns nothing.  I predict Zuckerberg’s paper wealth will never be realized, because obscene concentration of wealth generated by exploiting others goes against what the Internet is naturally meant to be.

2) Advertising Distribution must be in the Hands of Users

Except for Search, Internet advertising doesn’t work.  It will never work when it is thrust upon us, because it is kneejerk to despise and easy to ignore.  Online advertising must be willingly accepted to be effective.  This demands taking ad distribution control away from advertisers and giving it to consumers.

Closed ad networks that pollute the Internet and do little to help the advertisers themselves will inevitably be replaced by open networks which offer ads that may be taken by users and placed on their own pages – if it is a product or service they wish to help promote.  This power shift will make corporations more accountable and will lead to higher quality ads and products.  Also, people will be less fearful of buying when they have recommendations from friends, family and coworkers. 

Placing ad distribution in the proper hands will thereby help our economy rebuild from the bottom up, as trust is injected back into the system and people start consuming again.  So by giving up power to distribute ads online, companies will gain.  At least the ones that are worthy will.   The others can die a quicker death and quit wasting resources that can be freed for better concerns.

3) Free must be replaced by Free plus Compensated

Free has been a collective disaster.  We obviously cannot move from an industrial economy to a digital economy (which we must do to survive) if there can be no transfer of digital goods and services for money.  That’s what an economy is.

4) Everybody must have a Place at the Digital Table, despite their Talents and Geography

Let’s face it, when it comes to making a living, the Internet has so far mostly benefitted left-brained people and has too often devastated right-brain people.  While geeks’ opportunities and incomes have exploded, creators like reporters, photographers, cartoonists and other writers and artists have lost their jobs and incomes.2008-05-01

Trade in digital goods and services holds the promise of allowing great numbers of people all over the world to make a living without raping the environment, but this can happen only if doors are opened to allow in all skills and talents, not just coding ability.

5) Google’s Domination is Unhealthy and Potentially Treacherous

Yeah, I don’t like Google.  Their hegemony rivals that of ancient Rome.  The good news is that Google is much more vulnerable than people think.  Their lion’s share of online ad revenue won’t last once the above four tenets are inevitably manifested.  The only unknown is exactly how long it will take.

If you want more details about any of these, I suggest you check out my archive.  You can also subscribe to my feed.

I hope you will stick around and give me your input.  I appreciate your comments and welcome discussion about how best to spur the Internet towards its natural destiny, for everybody’s benefit.