Own the Network by Building the Right Brand

    January 30, 2008

VideoEgg announced $1.5 million in ad revenues over 5 months, which is not much when you consider that they have over 150 top widgets. You can use targeted widgets and gadgets to push things that are already valuable, successful, unique, or interesting outside of the social networks, but traditional advertising is no good.

Rarely will you see the relevancy line up this well unless the gadget was created custom to match the item being advertised. But gadgets need to be extensions of brands, I don’t think they can become destinations themselves. And if they do, the network can always change their policies or clone them.

It is harsh doing business on someone else’s network. eBay, which has raised rates in the past, but never did much cleanup in over a decade, just announced their first quality score.

And if your offering is just basic data or something that is easy to replicate that is a zero sum game with those profits heading to Google, other market makers, or scammers arbitraging holes in the marketplace:

Data has this really weird quality. In economic terms data has an increasing marginal utility. Anyone who took Econ 101 knows that most physical objects have a decreasing marginal utility. When it is raining my first umbrella keeps me dry, a second may be handy if the first blows out, but a third is unlikely to be used. This is true of shirts, steaks, houses, of almost anything you can think of except data.

Data has the opposite characteristic. Each incremental point of data adds value to the ones you all ready have. It is easy to see this in the context of an advertising network. If the ad network knows that a user is female it can show more relevant ads. But, If the ad network knows that female’s age, it can do even better, and data about location, household income, and recent web sites visited all add value to the existing data points, making it possible to show more and more relevant ads.

Look at how Google expanded their local listings. How long until they own that category? By the time other aggregators want to opt out all of the data (and value) will have already been transferred to Google.

With all the value going to the aggregators who should sue who? Will that grow a broken business model?

The solution to market dilution is information pollution. Oops, wrong quote. What I meant to say was what Brian said here:

The replication process is quite intense and getting faster, which is why we need to focus on building trademark businesses (based on brand) instead of businesses dependent on copyright law.