the PlentyOfFish.com post not long before the Scoble-leaving-Microsoft announcement predictably blanketed Techmeme. Because reading Robert's latest post about his decision made me think about the fundamental reason why 'Web 2.0' is (dare I say it) in bubble phase right now. It's the exact same reason the Dot Com bubble occured - Page Views... which in this era leads to ads, but more on that in a minute.It's funny that I posted
In my previous post PlentyOfFish owner Markus Frind boasted about getting 500 million page views a month, more than Digg's 200 million. But even small blogs are posting 6-figure monthly page views these days - TechCrunch says it gets 3 million and Robert mentioned a video blog called Rocketboom that gets 9 million per month:
"Yesterday I was talking with Amanda Congdon, one of the co-founders of Rocketboom. Her videoblog is now seeing about 300,000 viewers a day. That's, what, a year or so old? Did you know that advertisers are now paying her $85,000 per week? That's almost as much money as I made in an entire year of working at Microsoft."
So Amanda is making $4.4 million, at least, a year from advertising - on her blog. I presume that her hosting costs are pretty significant though, because she runs a video service. But still it'd be a very healthy profit.
It just shows you the opportunities are out there to make significant money on the Web, which is - let's face it - driving a lot of this 'web 2.0' mania. Oh it's a bubble, for sure. But it's funny that this page views model is at its foundation almost identical to the Dot Com days (bubble 1.0). Drive as many users to your site as humanly possible - that's the modus operandi of all websites, web 2.0 or not. The main difference I can see is that in the dot com days, this rush for page views was a 'land grab' and there wasn't as big an opportunity to monetize it with advertising. The idea back then (late 90's, early 21st century) was to gather as many users as possible and then do an IPO - monetizing would presumably come later. Which actually has worked out to be the case for the survivers (Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, etc).
These days, 2005-06-onwards, the idea is very much to - you guessed it - gather as many users as possible. Only this time you can monetize them with Google ads, or your own advertisers/sponsors. You can go after a mass market (like PlentyOfFish) or a niche market (like TechCrunch). There are many more niche opportunities, obviously. Either way, as PlentyOfFish.com, Rocketboom and all the other success stories of this age are proving - there is big money to be made with relatively small-scale operations.
Robert Scoble and PodTech.net are after a slice of that action too - and good luck to them (they're both Web 2.0 Workgroup members btw). I think all of us small bloggers or developers are looking to grab that brass ring too. It's all about the Page Views - always was and probably always will be on the commercial Web. Well to a lesser degree, it's also about the RSS impressions - which are beginning to be monetized too. In time I expect RSS impressions to be a 'first class citizen of content' too, but for now it's page views that are fueling the new bubble - again.
The larger question is: can the online advertising business be sustained at this level (which we got to thanks mainly to Google)? I don't know, but a lot of people are enjoying the ride right now - and there are too many brass ring opportunities still out there to get too cynical.
Photo: Brian Oberkirch