Monetizing social media

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David Carr published an interesting piece in today’s New York Times about Nick Denton, his Gawker Media tech blog Gizmodo, and the lost next gen iPhone.  According to Carr, the blog post generated 3.6 million hits on Gizmodo – a site averaging 90,000 hits a day. 

 (Not too long ago, during the tough economy, Mr. Denton decided to pay his staff of writers based upon hits.  The more papers you sell, said the crusty old news man, the more money you make. When the pay-per-readers story hit the wire, Mr. Denton was vilified and some good writers left. Buh-bye, said he.)

The writer who broke the lost iPhone story was well paid for her/his day’s work and Gizmodo’s brand made it to Ohf-rah (Oprah). Eastman Kodak, who serendipitously bought all the ads on Gizmodo for the day, reaped mad dividends in terms of reach. (What’s the opposite of “make good?”) 

Mr. Denton’s maligned approach to paying writers for audience portends things to come in social media.  Media will be bought based on eyeballs.  And media will be bought based on transactions. When this equation makes it to traditional ad agencies you may even find the creative output changing. That is, some of the ads won’t be built for portfolios but for consumer interest and traffic. Social media will soon be monetized based upon consumer interest and sales, not the rate card. And it will be exciting to watch. Peace!

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Back in the 1700-1800s (in the U.S.) if you needed stuff you either made it or went to the general store.  The Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogue was the next marketing innovation (1888), showing pictures of products and published prices, allowing customers to purchase by mail. Among the 322 pages in the catalogue published in 1894 must have been products didn’t sell and had to be replaced. The birth of ROI? 


The next massive marketing innovation was television. Television commercials which began in earnest in the 1940s became the most popular, effective form of advertising. But can you imaging trying to track sales to media and production back then in the very beginning? “Where’s the ROI? How do you measure this stuff?” Mad men. 

The Web

Fast forward to the Inter-nech. Banner ads and ad serving allowed us to count clicks. 2% click thru rates. Whoo hoo. Click to buy. Whoo hoo. But not everything could be bought over the web. (Discussion of that for another day.) CTRs diminished and web display ads became, so said the salespeople, a branding mechanism.

Social Media

Enter social media.  And consultants. When consultants out-number practitioners you know the market is in flux. The Altimeter Group, some very smart people let me just say, created a social media presenttion ‘splaining how to measure social media via a marketing analytics framework. Here are some of the measurables: share of voice, audience engagement, conversation reach, active advocates, active influence, advocacy impact, customer problem resolution rate, resolution time, satisfaction score, plus a couple of metrics tied to gathering input for product innovation. What’s not mentioned here, something Messrs. Sear and Roebuck might have added, is sales.  I love consultants ( am one) and the Altimeter Group is growing like a dookie, but until they and all of us tie these type of metrics back to da monies, we’re just making paper.

A smart client at AT&T once said to me, “we collect all this data now we have to do something smart with it.”  That’s business. That’s return on strategy. Peace!

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