Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

#rcc09 Wikis as Business

February 21st, 2009

Taking notes as a presentation by Evan on wikis as business because I am not facilitating this session. Some random thoughts from this:

Introducing money into the equation can change the dynamics of a wiki community.

There is a fear that the wiki maintainer will profit off other people’s work. Wiki maintainers and owners need to really work on it so that they treat their contributors with respect, help with administration and provide services to the community. Communities need to own the project. The company owns the website.

One wiki model that has worked is doing wiki farms but it isn’t really a software business in an interesting way because it doesn’t have the content issue and the community issues in that way.

This may pose a question regarding a business model that is viable. How can you make it a successful business if you can’t generate revenue just through advertising?

Ways to do that? Let the community pay for the platform… That may work well in some places but people are like “Why should I pay for the privilege of working for you?”

Google Advertising can remove value because the value ends up only being in the words. Possible way is to go directly to the advertiser. It helps improve your return on advertising.

Display Revenue takes a lot more organizational work than Google Revenue.

For a site like vinismo, direct advertising may work really well because the content is very focused in its content and mission.

WikiTravel declared that the far right column is for advertising. The ads didn’t appear in the wiki content.

WikiTravel also generates revenue through being able to print up physical version in a condensed version for people to use in another medium where they sell that printed version.

Most of the editors for the print version come from the WikiTravel community. They get hired for the print version. Being hired for wikitravel from with in the community helps maintain the community.

Books cost between $12.95 and $25 and you get the most up to date version.

Other mediums are about brand extension.

Yellow Wikis got shut down because of trademark but they were similar to the yellow pages. Their business model was that businesses could pay to protect their page. It was partially succesful. It might have moved to Wikia.

There is a question of if paying for ownership of a topic can be done in an ethical.

AboutUs pays for the article to be written, the article to be featured, etc. Companies get follow links when they pay. (But everyone who does constructive edits gets their links turned on to follow. That is manually being done. That policy is still in the air.) The main page rank has a lot of good page rank so that they have good reason to pay in some reasons.

There was a business that did a pay for improving articles on Wikipedia. The business that did that kind of got shut down because while they had the know how to write good edits on Wikipedia, the business didn’t interact well with the Wikipedia community.

Some people still do paid article writing on Wikipedia. They just aren’t as obvious as about it, are good communities, etc.

If you can show value to the community, that you aren’t taking anything away from the community, then it makes sense to do some monetization.

Three basic components to monetize: 1) Software, 2) Content & Advertising services, 3) People side and how to wiki. (Steven Walling.)

Dream Fish does a collaboration and co-working consulting business that is about establishing a collaboration culture. It is about practicing together. There is a paid content fee for some types of content. They help them find the appropriate wiki software to help them serve their goal. They help them figure out how they want to network and use collaborative tools. They also help people identify key people to help them implement their solution.

Steward Meyner does wiki consulting.

Microsoft has tried to put out white papers on how they use wikis.

Portland created a wiki and later didn’t realize what they wanted to do with their wiki. They ended up backtracking because of that as a result.

There is a need for a wiki for wiki consultants where you can get reputation, years of experience and involvement with types of software.

Wiki is great for content based websites. It can be more cost effective with users generating content.

GoogleAds wasn’t something that AboutUs originally feel was going to pan out but now they have changed their view because it now works and their Google Ads and they make money. It helps because they have really broad ads which works pulls them up which Google Ads helps serves up. They are also helped because they get a lot of traffic. They tried content categories for niche sales but for AboutUs it really hasn’t worked well so far. AboutUs thinks that Google Ads works well for random content where they can’t really target. It can be hard to sell specific ads for sections because it takes time and effort and people to sell ads across those categories.

wikiHow has a very similar model to AboutUs. That works really well for wikiHow.

LeadGen is a model about selling the ability to do surveys where the company does polls that they then sell that polling information to marketing companies. Leads can be worth $30 to $40. AboutUs learned about it from All Star Directory. That site has a lot of information about colleges and universities. People fill out forms with the expectation of being contacted about that information. It is online research, offline purchase. It can remove some of those issues involving community as your community isn’t going to get ad information they don’t ask for.

Wagn is a company that gets paid to host and doing consulting services related to the wiki they are hosting. Wagn doesn’t have wiki competitor because of what they are doing.

Mahalo has a micropayment service to reward for contributors where they can monetize it off. This might not work for everyone as people can be corrupted by reward. Alfie Cone did some research where kids were paid to play games and some were not. The kids who got paid stopped playing with toys when they told they were done. People get different things out of an altruistic activity. You need to consider some of that when you try things like that.

Evan doesn’t see wiki software business as much different than other software selling businesses. The only thing that might be different is the admin type function.

Wikia pays people to do some of that community maintenance. But that feels like doing it just to help generate community. Wikia also pays for wikis. They use a selling point of helping with community moderation to help prevent fights.

Wagn has a possible selling point of maintaining things so that people wn’t have to worry about becoming them next magnolia. The person can have back ups easier than other places. Wagn can also sell on having structured data and yet behind collaborative. They can also show that they need to sell that the content can’t be behind a firewall because their software is so great. They also help people to help them wagneering/wikibuilding which helps those users get greater ownership in house.

Ward Cunningham was told with in a week that he should patent the wiki idea. He didn’t necessarily see a way to patent it with out a wiki community being active. He didn’t see a business model off the first wikis. A few years later, he talked to entrepreneurs who paid him to do consulting and customer support where he found that it could make money in that way in terms of live organizational support and structuring. But the amount of support wasn’t necessarily right as it required almost a job to do that he wasn’t interested in. He now gives wikis to people for free. Ward calls his software The Wiki or more properly, Wiki Version 4. His big wiki is currently on Wiki Version 1. Wiki Version 4 is more modular. Ward did explore potential when was at its peak to sell the wiki. He talked to some people, went through some friends and some people might have been interested but the people interested would only have paid for the code based on how much it would have cost for the company to create the software themselves. The potential buyers were not interested in the community built on the site. Ward has made some money off Amazon Associated from the sale of books. He also makes money off the business card. He has never gotten any consulting work off of his wiki work… which is wow as he invented wikis. That might have been because he highballed the price. He was competing against Lotus Notes. The competitor might have looked at it as Lotus Notes vs. lone consultant and the end users doing the asking because they wanted to avoid Lotus Notes. The higher ups weren’t as interested in the user experience.

Are we hard wired to get personal gratification for being altruistic? Can that be used to make wikis better? Maybe wikis can be used to help prevent donor fatigue.

Some people may be hard wired to give and people might be emotionally hurt if they don’t give.

How would be work differently if that isn’t hard wired but cultural? Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference at all.

People might be financially rewarded for what they are passionate about. Though that might actually be hard to monetize.

Ward Cunningham didn’t worry about money as much when perusing his passion. He might not have been positioned as well connection wise in order to make money.

Wiki might not have been positioned correctly to get patented because when done it might have been viewed as something like herding chickens.

The idea for patents is to encourage innovation but it might not do that because it encourages people to work in isolation. Rather, all it does is encourage people to make a business model around an idea.

Do as I say, not as I do…

November 20th, 2008

I’m having one of those I’m a great big fat hypocrite moments. As it nominally affects Fan History, I thought I’d let you know. be-a-magpie is an adserver for Twitter. You let them put ads in your twitter feed and, based on the frequency of these tweet ads and how many followers you have, you get paid money! Yay! It is a great way to pick up some extra cash from $15 a month to $400 a month.

I haven’t done it for my primary twitter account because I don’t want to see ads on my twitter stream. I’ve unfollowed about a dozen people who have used be-a-magpie for similar reasons. I just… don’t want to be advertised at that way and I don’t want to do it myself. … even though be-a-magpie suggests I could make as much as $140 a month.

But fanhistorywiki’s twitter account, which is largely used to share things that appear on RecentChanges, is a different matter. It has about 20 followers. The account wasn’t intended to be interactive but rather to act as an off-site way to monitor changes on the wiki using a forum that a lot of people like. So I’m testing out be-a-magpie on that account because I would really love the extra $17.00 a month that it could earn for the site.

So I won’t subject you to ads where I have to view them and will reward you if an unfollow if you do it to me. But I’m doing it elsewhere. (And if you’re a fandom person/fansite thinking of doing something similar, remember that your followers probably will have similar ideas about not wanting to have their twitter stream polluted with ads.) Do as I say, not as I do…

Funding your fansite

July 11th, 2008

Discussing money and fandom always makes me queasy because I come that part of media fan fiction fandom which prizes the fact that there is a certain purity to do what we do and believes that making money off our activities is wrong for a variety of reasons.   Another part of the reason that fandom doesn’t discuss money  is that there is the strong belief that what we are doing is probably wrong.  Fansites, fan fiction, fan vidding, fan art all have possible copyright issues.  If some one is making money, it is best to keep that quiet lest the creators decide to go after you and others around you. As a consequence,  money very rarely gets discussed, the financial back end for most sites is largely unknown and the details that are believed to be true are frequently way off base.
But if you get a site big enough, if you run something with high bandwidth consumption or you some how make it in the top 50,000 sites, your site is going to start costing you money if you’re doing your own hosting.  Serious money.   (And a serious time commitment.  A potentially huge time commitment which can also potentially cost you lots and lots of money.)  The question than comes down to how do you fund your fansite?

There are a number of options.  They include donations, paying yourself out of your own pockets, paid accounts, advertising, merchandise sales, being bought out (or moving to a free service), incorporating and some other creative solutions.

One of the most popular of these is user based donations. If your site costs $10, $15, even $500 a month and you have a dedicated and loyal user base, that money can flow.  The downside to this is that you can become really beholden to users who think because they kicked back $20 of the $250 you needed this month that you owe them.  Users can also go through a certain degree of fatigue if they see a request for money all the time.  The other downside to this is if you lack a real community and don’t have that dedicated user base, you may never be able to ask for donations in a way that will support your site.  Still, this option is popular because it doesn’t involve intrusive advertisements and it doesn’t offend the sensibilities of those who believe in the purity of fandom, where we shouldn’t make money off our activities.

Probably the most popular option for most fansites is paying out of pocket.   The part I like best about this option is that, as the maintainer, you’re really beholden only to yourself.  If you want to say “Screw you!” to your visitors, you can.  You don’t have to answer to advertisers either.  For smaller fansites, the cost is probably between $2.50 a month to $150 a month.  Many people can absorb that cost with out any problems.  It is the ideal for many who believe that fandom shouldn’t be about profiting off other people’s intellectual property or off other people’s work because you’re basically going into debt because of your love of the community and that which you’re a member of the fandom.  If you’re a fan who wants to support other fans, there are a number of fan friendly, fan run hosting options including Squidge and SlashCity.  The problem is this really isn’t feasible if you’re planning a large, large site, need a lot of custom programming or you have huge amounts of traffic.  Most people just can’t absorb $1,000 to $2,000 a month for hosting.

Paid accounts are another option.  They can be a wonderful source of potential income, especially if you can make them subscriptions.  The problem here is that, if you’re not a programmer, you’re either going to learn or you’re going to have to hire a developer to build features to allow you to offer such accounts.  That can cost time, may make your host less secure if you’re programming with very little idea of what you’re doing. and cost money to hire a programmer.   It can also potentially really offend your user base who might not see the necessity of offering a paid version of the site.  If you have a big enough audience and a loyal fan base, if you can program or get a cheap developer, this option is probably a really good one for larger fansites.  (Unless you’re a wiki in which case, there isn’t much you can offer in the way of paid accounts.)

Advertising is probably the second or third most popular options for funding your fansite.  The popular sansite choices for advertising brokers seem to basically include AdBrite and GoogleAds.  If your site gets enough traffic, you can generally make enough money to cover your hosting costs.  I’m not partial to GoogleAds though because they require you may $100 before you can get your check.  In a one year period where Fan History had the ads on the site, we never reached that $100 threshold and never got paid.   Ouch.  The other problem with GoogleAds is that they don’t allow adult content.  If you’re a site like AdultFanFiction.Net, you’re pretty much screwed when it comes to GoogleAds and a number of similar ads.  A third problem I’ve encounter is that some of those contextual ads are a pain in the ass.  Fan History had a lot of ads for fans, the kind that blow air around as opposed to the type that love something.  This problem means fewer chances for click through to earn money.  Still yet another problem is that some services, like GoogleAds, make it hard to control who advertises on your site.  No, I don’t want some one advertising vibrators and viagra on Fan History.  Thanks.  But unless I catch the url and report it to block it, that ad may keep appearing. At the moment, Fan History is using ProjectWonderful for ads.  It makes a number of those complaints go away.  Besides the ad issues themselves, some users may be really turned off by ads and think that you’re making a lot of money.  I’ve seen a number of kerfluffles and stupidity regarding that issue.  If you haven’t done ads before and you’re going to do them, be open and honest with your users to mitigate any PR damage your site may face.  If you are making more than you need to operate, figure out some way to kick some back to the users in give aways or contests.  And then, if you’re asked, tell your users that all the extra money is going into a savings account for the site to help cover costs in the long run.  Say this to cover your ass.  Fan sites run by fans take a lot of flack for making money compared to fansites run by corporations and that way, you cover your ass.  Getting back to ads, this option may or may not work for you.  It just comes down to how well your ads work for you and the amount of traffic you’re getting.  Don’t be totally dependent on it as a solution until you know how well it works.

Still yet another option if you need to pay for your site is to get free hosting.  There are a couple of sites and services which will pay the hosting costs and host you in exchange for something.  Wikia is one example.  Got a fandom wiki?  Consider moving your wiki to their server. If you’ve got a big one with a lot of traffic and a dedicated community, then you can probably sell it to them.  This has happened before with one wiki earning at least five figures.  If you’ve got a fansite, other hosting options include the Devoted Fan Network which hosts your site based on their overall site design and where Devoted Fan Network puts ads on your site to recoup their costs for hosting.  You may also try selling your site or seeing if you can get some one to pick up sponsorship of your site in exchange for exclusive rights to advertise.   That was the case for Battlestar Galatica Wiki where FanLib appears to have picked up the tab for their hosting in exchange for ads on their wiki. This option may work for a lot of people but it generally means a certain level of losing control over your site in order to do it. Of course, you can still go with the old fandom classics like FreeWebs, Bravenet, blogspot, LiveJournal, Geocities, and Tripod.   If you’re a control freak, it may be a bad, bad idea.  If you’re not such a control freak and money is a big concern, it may be an option for you.

There area  few more options for funding your fansite that I haven’t discussed.  The real issues when it comes down to funding your fansite are your comfort level and control issues, how much you’re willing to spend, how your audience will react and finding a partner or company you can work with.  There is no one size fits all solution for fansites.

Canonical URL by SEO No Duplicate WordPress Plugin