Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SpeakToMe is the Ecommerce Solution for Online Publishers

Advertising does not work as a business model for online publishers. With the exception of search and classifieds, page view inventory receives less than $1 CPM. Usually less than a ten cent ($0.10) CPM, actually.

So if advertising doesn't work, what does work online? The answer is ecommerce. If you want to make money online, you have to sell something.

Building an online audience is a tremendously personal endeavor, and it takes a special individual. To build the audience, the publisher must be able to entertain, to educate and to help. What is the product an audience gathered in this fashion is most likely to buy? I think it is the online publisher themselves. SpeakToMe offers online publishers the ability to sell direct interaction between the audience and themselves.

How does it work? The audience comes to your blog or website and sees you in the SpeakToMe widget. Your presence is thereby established. If someone in the audience has a specific question to ask you, or they wish to speak to you directly for any reason, they can click on the SpeakToMe link and be connected to you over a regular telephone line on a per-minute basis.

This blog is, of course, an example of how this works. Anybody can create a blog like this one, with their own set of blog posts and their own formatting. Get started by signing up as an expert over at SpeakToMe. There are no out of pocket costs to the expert -- SpeakToMe takes 10% of the revenues you generate from your audience. The payout after credit card costs, broadcast fees and telephony charges will still be over 80% to you, the expert.

The Problem is Advertising Does Not Work

If you want to make money online, you have to accept the fact that advertising will not pay your bills. The only areas of online page views that are profitable through advertising are search and classifieds. Everybody else makes an average of less than $1 CPM.

You can prove this to yourself pretty easily. Buy $100 worth of advertising on Google Adwords and see what CPM you pay for advertising on Google's "Content Network". Those are ads on generic page views across Google's vast network. Glancing at my account just now, I have paid Google six and one half cents per 1000 impressions over the last two months -- a $0.065 CPM for general run-of-site advertising.

For the keyword searches I have purchased, on the other hand, I have paid a $23.75 CPM over the last two months. Put another way, I paid Google 370 times as much for my placement on search page views than I did for my placement on non-search page views. This differential is justified by the clickthrough rate, which is much higher on keyword search than it is on the Content Network.

Its not just Google. Industry statistics paint a similar story. The table below combines US internet advertising revenues with CPM figures from an investor presentation from Yahoo! filed with the SEC. The IAB report broke down internet revenues by category, while the Yahoo! filing showed expected CPM rates for various page view categories. The revenue data from the IAB is for January to June of 2008, while Yahoo's CPM rates are as of March, 2008.

CategoryRevenues ($B)CPM
Other Advertising$4,835$0.99
Total Internet Advertising$11,510$2.27

I do have an assumption buried within that table. My assumption is that search page views make up 2.5% of all internet page views. If the actual number of search page views generated by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft were less than 2.5% of total page views, then the CPM for Other Advertising would be lower. I actually think that the percentage of page views from the search providers is more like 1.0% of total page views, which would translate into even lower CPMs -- $0.39 for the Other Advertising category and $0.91 for Total Internet Advertising.

In summary, publishers online do not make money through advertising. There are a few exceptions, notably in Finance and Technology, but the vast majority of us will not make our money online through advertising. Its true for us as individuals, and its true for the industry as a whole.

The video below is just me communicating the information of this post on a Youtube video:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monetize your website with SpeakToMe

Building an online audience is tough enough -- you have to educate, help, and flat out entertain enough people to build up a following. But that's when the tough part begins. Getting paid on the internet is even harder than building a loyal audience.

SpeakToMe is offering a new service aiming to change that. "The biggest problem for successful online publishers is getting paid for their work," says Ted Murphy, President of SpeakToMe. "The three legged stool of print journalism, publisher-reader-advertiser, is simply not available online. The only categories that get paid online are keyword search and classifieds. 3% of the internet page views make over 75% of the money. Search and classifieds generate a $40 CPM while everybody else makes less than $1 CPM."

The answer, Mr. Murphy figures, is to offer a service that allows readers to pay the publisher directly. The SpeakToMe Expert Service product sets up a private session between publisher and reader, including a phone call. Readers pay by the minute to speak directly to the experts who write the articles.

Webmasters can toss the SpeakToMe widget on their website and accept payment from their audience within the comfortable confines of their own website. All of the video, chat room, phone call and ecommerce elements are included in the widget. There are no up-front costs to the webmaster, and the set up procedure takes minutes.

Its yet to be seen whether this new approach will catch on with a broader audience. If it does, there'll be a new and powerful business model leading social networking to a profitable future.