A Feed Subscription Marketing Ecosystem

I’ve often thought that the most natural way to monetize feeds is to showcase other feeds that you can subscribe to. Use feeds to market other feeds.

So I’ve decided to try that concept out. I’ve made up an ad for this blog’s feed.  It looks like this:

And I am now running it in a number of channels in the FeedBurner ad network. Those of you who use FAN to monetize your feed have probably seen this ad come across your desk for approval this morning. I hope you approved it.

Here’s how I am thinking about it. I make about $1000 per month with FeedBurner. So I am going to use half of that money to market my blog’s feed. What I want to see is how much I can increase my feed subs with that money.

Each blog sub is worth about $0.10/month to me (I have about 10,000 subs). Let’s assume that the average subscriber stays with me for 6 months (I honestly don’t know and I need FeedBurner to give me the tools to figure that out). Then the lifetime value of a sub is $0.60. If I spend $500/month, I’ll need to add 830 subs each month to breakeven.

I don’t know that I will breakeven on the deal. But I’ll learn a lot. I know how many impressions I am getting. I’ll know how many subs I get from the deal. And that will tell me what the right cpm to pay going forward.

I’ll keep you all posted on how this experiment goes.

#VC & Technology

The New Critics

I found their new blog like I find most blogs, by following links. This time it was the best kind of link, a link to me!

Their new blog is called newcritics and they are Tom Watson and Jason Chervokas. If I am not mistaken, this is their first joint effort since they left @NY back around the time the first bubble broke. Maybe there’s a correlation there. Who knows.

newcritics is  "Web-based criticism in literature, music, television, film, games, theater and art from a diverse group of bloggers". Sounds like a good idea.

I’ve added it to reader and blogroll. You might want to consider doing that too.

#Random Posts

Dean and Britta

  Originally uploaded by grange85.

If you are a Luna fan, I don’t need to tell you who Dean and Britta are.

Dean is Dean Wareham, lead guitarist and lead singer and songwriter from Luna and one of the best musicians out there. Britta is his wife and former bass player and backup singer from Luna.

They’ve got a new record coming out this February called Back Numbers. And I’ve got an advance copy of it. It’s wonderful.

Here’s one of my favorite tracks from it. I could listen to Dean Wareham play guitar all day long and be happy guy.

The Sun Is Still Sunny – Dean and Britta

#My Music

The Four City Day and iPhone

  Originally uploaded by Alexandre Lemieux.

Yesterday was killer. I started it in Phoenix at 6am after getting four hours sleep. I was in Phoenix to see Howard and watch the OSU/Florida game with my OSU friends. We had to go out afterwards to wash down that loss. OSU was just terrible. So I got back to my hotel late and had an early flight to catch.

Then to Vegas for CES and a bunch of meetings. I landed in Vegas to the iPhone news. More on that later in this post.

CES is nuts. I was overstimulated in five minutes. The highlight for me was seeing all the action in the HD Radio booth. There had to be forty to fifty different HD radios in all forms and price points; car radios, hybrids, table tops, tuners, a USB radio for your computer, etc, etc. HD is happening. It’s real. I also enjoyed doing a meeting with Peter from Bug Labs behind the Girls Gone Wild truck. That was memorable. But it sure did feel like the big CE news of the day was happening at Macworld.

Then it was off to Denver where I camped out in the airport for a couple hours and talked to Jessica who pulled up Jobs’ Macworld show on her computer. She started telling me facts about the iPhone, and then she stopped doing play by play and I just heard "wow, wow, wow". She told me she could feel her Apple stock (AAPL) going up just watching the speech. I told her to check her stock ticker. She told me Apple was up $7 on the day. That led to some more "wow, wow, wow". Yesterday was clearly a good day to be an Apple fan and/or stockholder like Howard.

Then I hopped on a quick flight to Aspen where I am attending a Jeffries and Company event. There are a bunch of media execs and private equity investors here. At dinner and afterwards we discussed CES and the iPhone. It’s on everyone’s minds.

My take on the iPhone? It’s an awesome product. But I don’t think its going to make a dent in Research In Motion’s (RIMM) business. I don’t see myself going away from a device with a keyboard. I think iPhone is going to be a big hit in the consumer smartphone market (with the caveat that the price point is an issue). But for mobile mail, there isn’t a better device than the blackberry and I’ve tried them all.

I also think the exclusive deal with Cingular is nuts. Why force people who want an iPhone to switch carriers? Apple is an obnoxious company. They make wonderful products that blow me away. But I really dislike their approach to business. I won’t use the iPhone unless you can get it unlocked and run it on any GSM network.

#Blogging On The Road#stocks#VC & Technology

The Highline Festival

  High Line 
  Originally uploaded by bitpuddle.

The Highline is the old elevated train track that runs up the west side from Greenwich Village through Chelsea and ends at Hudson Yards, where they wanted to build the Jets stadium several years ago.

It’s a very cool space that is being turned into an elevated park. This is a photo of it.

In May of this year (specifically May 9th to May 19th), David Bowie is hosting The Highline Festival.

As cool as that pairing is, I just found out via Brooklyn Vegan that Daniel Johnston is coming up to NYC to play the festival. Now that is cool!

Also, it appears that Arcade Fire and TV On The Radio are headlining the festival.

This is so great. I have to figure out how to get tickets now. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments.

#My Music#NYC

Placeblogging (aka Hyperlocal)

  the neighborhood 
  Originally uploaded by dinanyc.

I wrote a post about hyperlocal content almost two years ago, comparing Backfence to the 101 effort in North Carolina. I said this about hyperlocal content (now called placeblogging) at that time:

Is this a venture fundable opportunity?  In time, certainly.  Is it too
early right now?  Probably.  But this is an area worth watching closely
and I will be doing that.

I have been watching this area closely ever since and while there have been a number of interesting services that have developed, I am not sure any of them are venture scale. I like Jonathan Weber’s New West Network. I like George Johnson’s Buffalo Rising. I like Fresno Famous which the Fresno Bee just bought. I like Baristanet.

And here in NYC, I like Gothamist, Curbed, and Eater.

But as much as I like these placeblogs, I’ve been looking for something that can scale more than a local blog. And as I said in that initial post:

But 101 does something that I think is absolutely critical.  It
aggregates its content from people who are already blogging on their
own.  It grabs that content and aggregates it and features it.  It does
not require that people come to 101 to post their content.  I think
that is the right model for a truly scaleable local platform.

When Susan and Mark from Backfence came to see me back then, I told them that I didn’t think building a platform for people to come to post about their community was the right approach. I told them that people are already blogging and the thing to do is aggregate all that activity. I read recently on Matthew Ingram’s blog that Susan and Mark have left Backfence over "strategic differences". [Mark tells me that he actually has rejoined the company to refocus it. Sorry for getting that wrong]. That’s too bad as they certainly brought a lot of passion and energy to the placeblogging effort.

We believe the big opportunity in user generated content is aggregation. My blog will only generate $30k per year in revenue. But Techmeme, which occasionally links to my blog, can generate a lot more. Because they aggregate the content of hundreds, maybe thousands of blogs.

So that’s why I am excited to see some new services arriving on the placeblogging scene. Last week we saw the launch of Placeblogger, a new service by Lisa Williams of Watertown’s placeblog called H2Otown. Placeblogger, if you don’t click on that link and check it out yourself, is a directory of placeblogs. You want to find the best placeblogs in your town? Try placeblogger.

But I am even more excited about Steven Johnson and John Geraci’s outside.in. Outside.in is what you’d get if you combined google maps, technorati, and delicious and focused that service on placeblogs. I think outside.in is barely scratching the surface of what it can and should do, but already you can go there, type in your zip code and/or navigate via the map and find blog posts about your town/city/neighborhood.

Now that’s a scalable model for placeblogging. And the best part is these aggregators are going to drive traffic to the placebloggers who are already churning out high quality content and they are going to incent others to start placeblogging. I posted on washington square park yesterday and that post is now in outside.in. Seeing my post getting picked up in an aggregator like that makes me interested in doing more placeblogging.

So now we’ve got an ecosystem developing around placeblogging. The issue never was the platform. That exists with blogger, typepad, wordpress, flickr, youtube, etc, etc. The issue was content, navigation, and discovery. And that is all coming together. Very nice.

#VC & Technology

Building It Up and Then Knocking It Down

Something about human nature loves promoting something beyond its natural limits and then relishing bringing it down hard. I saw this firsthand in the late 90s Internet bubble. Flatiron Partners and our portfolio were never as good as everyone made us out to be in 1999. And we were never as bad as everyone made us out to be after the bubble burst.

So I have to shake my head at the resurrection of the dead pool, which was made popular last time around by Fucked Company. Do we really need to celebrate when companies fail? It’s hard enough for everyone involved to deal with the dashed hopes and dreams of a failed startup. But now we are counting them like notches on a sword handle.

The whole thing, starting with overhyping young companies that are nothing more than a few people working their butts off to make something happen, to throwing them in the "dead pool" when they fail is not healthy. Just ask Britney Spears.

#VC & Technology