Why I Am Returning To My WordPress Blog May 4, 2011Posted by Bernard Lunn in B2B Media, Blogging, Journalism.
I was late to blogging, around 2007, but had written a lot in other media. I started with WordPress, then wrote for Read Write Web, SemanticWeb and SmallBizTrends.
I have no intention of monetizing via advertising, so I don’t care about page views (that is only a vanity stat). Nor do I have any single business objective, so I don’t feel the need to be disciplined about writing every day. I really do write for fun, I enjoy writing. It is a way to organize my thoughts. But it is also, hopefully, a conversation. I want to engage in a dialogue with people who are “thinking along the same lines”, even if they tell me I have got it totally wrong (I love changing my point of view).
So, the question is not whether I should blog. It is whether I should blog here, or on some high traffic site. A few years ago, it was different. Then it was obvious that you should blog as a guest author on a high traffic site. Four things have changed my mind on this:
- Google is indexing my blog posts within less than a minute. Yep, this no-name blog is being indexed almost in real time! I tested this myself. I assume this is because WordPress adopted RSSCloud.
- I tested on a blog network that lets guest authors post freely (SeekingAlpha) and on this blog and the number of page views was almost the same.
- I asked some blogs that have a restricted guest author policy and found that I had to write in a way that fit within their editorial guidelines. If I wanted to be a professional writer, that would have been a useful exercise. But I am determined to remain amateur in my writing and want the freedom to write what I want, when I want.
- New style aggregators such as Hacker News and Techmeme have a way to submit posts, so you can alert a specialized audience on a post by post basis. Hacker News found me about a year ago when my post on “punk manufacturing” was discovered and yesterday I submitted something that got a great conversation going. Methinks Techmeme is more news-driven and that’s not my game, but lets see.
This tells me that it might be possible to get the blogging magic quadrant – freedom on one axis and engaged audience on the other.
The 103 SaaS Vendors In Our Survey January 15, 2010Posted by Bernard Lunn in B2B Media, SAAS.
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The initial survey results have been published on ReadWriteWeb. Here are the vendors we included in our survey:
|Concur Technologies, Inc.|
|Constant Contact, Inc.|
|RightNow Technologies, Inc.|
|SPS Commerce i|
A great bit of business journalism December 14, 2007Posted by Bernard Lunn in B2B Media, Journalism.
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“Internet II: Rebooting America
Michael S. Malone, 09.10.01
Getting real and getting it right.
The biggest economic boom in history is bearing down on us. ”
Big deal, you might think. But check out the date (what happened the next day?). In late 2001 this was really far-sighted, clear thinking.
Now look at his concluding remarks:
“But with this announcement also comes a warning: We are not prepared for this impending boom. We have no way to support it, to nourish it, even to reap its benefits. What will happen to Internet II, the fulfillment of the technological revolution, when our order sits on a runway behind 60 other planes awaiting takeoff, or on a stalled interstate? And how many batteries will we need to surf the Grid in the dark?
Internet II is coming, but we aren’t ready. If we aren’t ready soon, we may have to wait until 2015 or 2020, and perhaps visit Frankfurt or Shanghai to see what we missed. ”
Blogs, shmogs, great journalism still lives and makes a difference.
Global audience development August 9, 2007Posted by Bernard Lunn in B2B Media, Globalization, India, Online Advertising.
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American Business Media firms have a big opportunity to globalize. There is no other country that has a large enough market to support most of the niches that make up the 1,000 titles in the B2B Media world. So American B2B Media firms are the only ones with the scale and brand to go global in most of these niches. The question is how to take this opportunity.
The traditional answer has been licensing. That was the right answer for a print-centric world. You needed a local partner that understood the local nuances of content, circulation, production and advertising.
However the print economics in some of these markets are challenging. Take India as an example. That 300 million middle class is an enticing market and the opportunity in consumer publishing is growing fast; this is is country where new Newspapers are starting up! However B2B makes up only 1% of the media market and 50% of that is within IT. Advertising rates are far lower than in the US and with print costs pretty similar it is hard to see the economics working out.
However online it is a different story. With an almost zero cost per additonal online subscriber, the gross margins look good. Many Publishers tell me that they get a lot of traffic internationally and they know a lot of smaller vendors who want access to their US audience. This is not just classic English-speaking markets (UK, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand) as the “business class” globally tends to speak English and seek out content from US based sites.
With User Generated Content (UGC) techniques it should be relatively easy to localize content; but even without this there is a big market as markets globalize.
Currently many Publishers are in reactive mode. They know from the weblogs that international visitors are coming but they don’t know enough to really sell that audience to advertisers. This requires a more proactive global audience development strategy.
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The New York Times article yesterday about Maholo and other search engines challenging Google by adding humans must have got a chuckle or at least a wry smile from “traditional” publishers. They have been doing “human-assisted search” for 100 years or so.
Yahoo is the best example of how to mix automation with human editors. Of course, given their current turmoil, the human-assisted search proponents are unlikely to hold them up as a poster boy. There are also plenty of very good examples of this within B2B Media, but these sound very unglamorous with names such as directories.
This really is old wine in new bottles. I also believe that the head-on assault on Google is fueled by a me-too approach by investors that will yield very low results.
When Google went public I, like many others, thought the switching costs were too low. I think we all underestimated the power of habit. I use Firefox and have a bunch of search engines in my toolbar, so it is totally simple to try alternatives. I do use alternatives to Google occasionally, mostly because I am interested in the subject. From this small sample, I think Ask may have a shot at being an alternative, but even when I use Ask I still use Google as well to make sure I have not missed anything.
The Google ascendancy is likely to be shorter than Microsoft’s, which was shorter than IBM’s. Shorter ascendancy seems to be one more consequence of Moore’s Law. That maybe interesting academically. However, from a business planning point of view, the way to make money in the next few years will be within the Google ecosystem. Thousands of companies did very well within the Microsoft ecosystem and I suspect that when the history is written there will be many times more from the Google ecosystem.
Research is still one of two killer apps of the Web (communication i.e. email to social networks) is the other. Search is not Research. It is only the start of (Re)search. Every $ earned by Microsoft leveraged many, many more $$$$$ for their ecosystem. Yes their $ at the head of the ecosystem was fantastically profitable and so is Google’s $ at the head of the new ecosystem, but once you get over that fact and learn to live with it there are tons of good opportunities.
Playing within the ecosystem in a niche market has its challenges. One has to be agile and constantly find new ways to add value. When Microsoft/Google says “we want to partner with you and we have no ambition to directly enter your market” you always have to add “at least not yet” at the end. This has been called “picking up peanuts in front of a steamroller” but in the early days of the ecosystem those peanuts are pretty big and the steamroller is still miles away and you can gauge the speed reasonable accurately.
There were very many Microsoft challengers that came and went and many had big funding, determined management and had lots of publicity. The David vs Goliath story is always popular because we all know that usually Goliath wins even while the romantic in us roots for David. A few high profile blow-outs then leave investors with the “don’t invest in a Microsoft/Google killer”.
Those who resented IBM’s dominance welcomed Microsoft in the same way we now welcome Google as they give Microsoft a run for their money. Some day we will do the same when we see a genuine alternative to Google, but I suspect that is many years away when the current crop of challengers will be long gone.
Will Blogs replace White Papers? June 20, 2007Posted by Bernard Lunn in B2B Media.
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Most Blogs are seeking attention, a modern form of PR and marketing communication. In this sense they are similar to White Papers and better in many ways:
- The length of a blog is a lot more flexible, anything from a quick comment on a news item to a lengthy analysis based on in-depth research.
- Blogs invite response, which is the whole point of marketing communication.
- Readers can be anonymous until they want to respond (as opposed to White Papers which usually require a registration, which brings on the obligatory follow-up emails and phone calls).
The latter point is important for B2B Media as publishers look for White Paper registration to act as a lead generation source. It is not yet clear how Blogs will replace this. I suspect it is part of the larger issue on how to monetize communities.