Don't like the text, video, or banner ad units that Google displays on other sites through its AdSense program? Think you can come up with a better, more compelling advertising format? Well, now you can give it your best shot (if you operate a Website that generates more than 100,000 page views a day, that is).
Google just opened up some APIs for AdSense to create and sell your own ad units through its AdSense network. It is hoping that large Web publishers and hosting sites will take up the challenge, and help it come up with more effective online ads.
How about ads triggered by the tags on blog post, online photos, and other content? They could call it TagSense.
Internet ads in the first quarter reached $3.9 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. They don't break it down by type of ad, but for all of 2005, search accounted for 41 percent.
At the current quarterly run-rate, Internet ads will reach $16 billion this year up from $12.5 billion last year. We're starting to talk about some serious bank here.
In many ways, the art-form of self-expression has become the “new media”, and social networks are their distribution channels.
It's not just social networks, though, it's the whole Web. (Fifty million people already are creating this stuff). Social networks just happen to be where the culture of participation can be found in its most concentrated form. At least, for now.
Social networks like MySpace make it easy for people to express themselves. But what happens next? Do people graduate from that experience? Or does the whole Web become more like one giant social network, where you can find your friends and the traces they've left no matter where you go online?
Just as the walled gardens of the early Web portals (i.e., AOL) came down, so too will the walled gardens of these new social portals.
Here's a new twist on a photo-sharing site. Cnet just launched AllYouCanUpload.com, a photo-storing site designed for people who want to post their photos on other sites or blogs. The site lets you upload photos without limit and does not throttle the bandwidth for retrieving them (which is key if you are using the site to serve photos to your blog or MySpace page). I tried it with the photo below:
The site is barebones, and is not the kind of place you'd send your parents to find pics of the grandkids. It's more a photo site for the mashup crowd. And you don't even need an account to use it. Just upload an image and it gives you a bunch of links and HTML code that you can use to place that photo around the Web.
TurnHere is that rarest of video sites on the Web: it actually pays filmmakers for the mini-documentaries that it shows on its site. "I could not imagine not paying creators," says founder Brads Inman.
The site, which soft-launched last December and is about to unveil a vastly superior redesign on May 31, currently features about 300 videos showcasing neighborhoods in different cities. There is the one about NYC's Canal Street narrated by a private detective who works on product counterfeit cases; an homage to the Lower East Side's famed smoked fish shop Russ & Daughters; a history of San Francisco's Palace Hotel; a tour of Burlington, Vermont; and a look at the real Tijuana. They tend to be hit or miss, but pleasantly there are more hits than misses.
Inman wants to film the world, one neighborhood at a time. The online videos are all made by freelance filmmakers, journalists, and other semi-pros (although there is one 17-year old who contributes as well). Inman pays $500 and up for each video, and he is very selective about what he accepts This is no YouTube free-for-all. "We want professionally created video," says Inman. "You don't need to be a Hollywood studio to do this stuff." He is taking advantage of cheap video and editing technology, even cheaper Web distribution, and a highly-skilled, highly-distributed freelance workforce.
With so many people flying the crowded skies this Memorial Day weekend, it's a good time for an update on the embryonic air taxi industry. After more than five years of development, the first of a series of cheap, small jets (such as the 5-seater from Eclipse Aviation shown at right) is expected to finally get FAA certification this summer. Once the Eclipse can fly, a number of new air taxi businesses (including DayJet, Linear Air, and Way To Go) plan to buy fleets of them and start operations.
Over the next few years, the Eclipse will be followed by other small jets from Adam Aircraft, Cessna, Embraer, and Spectrum Aeronautical—all of which should further fuel the air taxi industry. To get a sense of where all of this is going, I recently spoke with Esther Dyson, who is preparing to host her second annual Flight School conference on this budding industry. As she puts it:
It is beginning to come together. The business models are becoming clear. The players are emerging. This is private jet travel for the rest of us.
All good things stop growing at triple-digit rates at some point. Now there are some rumblings that MySpace might have peaked.
As Scott Karp points out, this Alexa graph suggests that, at the very least, it could be pausing for a breather. He also cites as anecdotal evidence of a backlash a panel of six teenagers who no longer think it is the coolest thing on the planet.
I'm not sure how representative these Silicon Valley teenagers are—one of them supposedly makes more than $100,000 playing online poker (so why would he waste his time on MySpace?). But that's not the only report of a teen backlash. That's what teens do.
A few weeks ago, one slightly-appalled LA entrepreneur told me:
I have met two people over 50 years old asking me if I want to see their MySpace page. As soon as the kids see 50 -year-olds on MySpace they are going to split.
The recent eBay-Yahoo deal, whereby eBay will open up its site to Yahoo search ads, seems like such a flimsy attempt to fight off the Google threat. I guess the idea behind this the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend move is to shore up Yahoo's search ad business by giving it carte blanche access to eBay's massive e-commerce network. So, in a sense, eBay and Yahoo are pitting their combined networks against Google's
eBay knows it can throw a lot of ads to Yahoo. But helping Yahoo's ad business might not help eBay that much. The big threat to eBay comes from Google's ambitions to connect searchers directly with merchants through Google Base. This deal might have been motivated by that swinging axe, but it does nothing to address it directly.
Curiously, eBay will still continue to spend roughly $150 million a year on Google ads (presumably because they are more effective than Yahoo's). Now, if you are going to open up your e-commerce site to ads that could take traffic away from your site in return for an 80 percent cut of those ads, then as a business move you'd want to make sure that those ads are as effective as possible (and more than make up for any lost e-commerce revenue). Arguably, a deal with Google would have done more to maximize revenues from search ads. But this deal isn't about revenues. It is about raising the barricades with anything and everything you can get your hands on.