Monthly Archives: September 2006

How To Sell Feed Placement Like Techmeme

Today Gabe Rivera debuted his paid-placement business model for his site “Techmeme”:http://techmeme.com. He’s selling sponsors a position in his sidebar that they can update at will via an RSS feed.

He’s also suggested that this would be an easy thing for bloggers to do, perhaps with a simple WordPress or MT plugin.

The purpose of this post is to explain how you can do the same thing in WordPress with existing plugins.

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Michael Arrington Invents a New Kind of Hype

Mike Arrington breathlessly proclaims that Gabe Rivera has “invented a new form of advertising” by displaying items from sponsors RSS feeds on his “A-list” digesting site, Techmeme.

Tonight Gabe Rivera, the founder of TechMeme, just invented something else – advertisements delivered via RSS. NOT advertisements embedded withing RSS feeds, but actually using RSS as the delivery mechanism.
TechMeme Invents New Kind of Advertisment

How is this new? Every content site with any sort of traffic and leverage in the 90s had a section with headlines linking to content from sponsors paying for “distribution.”

Jeff Jarvis, over on Buzz Machine, chooses a similar headline, calling it A New Kind of Advertising. He suggests that what’s unique about this is that:

[It's] dynamic advertising controlled by the advertisers, who will make their ads — their content — relevant to the readers who see their feeds on Techmeme

Again, how is this unique? You think that the companies that were paying news.com, etc thousands of dollars for “distribution” weren’t carefully targeting the headlines they syndicated?

If anything, this brings RSS full circle. In it’s early days (on MyNetscape), RSS provided a way to do content syndication without having a business arrangement in place. Gabe continues to exploit this use of RSS to gain content for his site. Now he’s also using it to take paid content. Good for Gabe. Otherwise, big whoop.

Update: I do give Gabe credit for applying an existing technology and business model in a slightly new context. Someone had to be the first to do it. It’s not Gabe’s fault that people who should know better can’t take a 30 second break from their hyping reporting to provide some historical context.

Geekfun Retrospective for the Week Ending 9/24/06

This is a look back at the posts on Geekfun.com this past week.

  • The first post of the week didn’t come until Wed. It was a self-absorbed lament titled “I Can’t Write.” Ironically, it’s probably the best written post of the week, if only because it is the briefest. Even so, it’s a useless post. Narcissism can command the same fascinated attention as a train wreck, but only if the self absorption lacks any hint of self-awareness. This post is too self-aware, it’s about as likely to get attention as an ansty teenager writing poems in his secret journal.
  • Next up, a rather dull post about installing a new version of, “K2 0.9.1,” a WordPress template system. My guess, no one reading this blog really cares about the event or the bland observations it occasioned.
  • Sunday occasioned three posts. The first “Is Rojo Log Spamming?” identifies questionable behavior by a bot run by Rojo, a web-based feed aggregator with a minor following. The principled stand taken at the end of the post lacks any drama because neither the author, nor the reader have anything at stake in the whole “controversy,” or the action taken in protest.
  • The next post for Sunday is “Bandwidth, it’s getting more expensive,” which takes an contrarian view of the notion that bandwidth is getting cheaper. The analysis and conclusions are food for thought, but really, couldn’t it have been shorter?
  • The final post for Sunday is this one, which seeks to offer a short critique of each of the other posts from the past week. It succeeds after a fashion, and probably exceeds any of the attempts at criticism the writer turned in to his English professors while in college, but it’s still questionable whether it’s worth the effort taken by the author to write it, or his readers to read it.

Bandwidth, it’s getting more expensive

Over on GigaOM is a post titled “Bandwidth, Its Getting Cheaper,” which is really just a recap of a post by Phill Harvey summarizing the trend in what he’s been paying Charter Cable for bandwidth.

The way Phill looks at things, bandwidth is getting cheaper, because he used to pay $62/month for a 1.5 Mbit connection ($41.94 per Mbps per month), while soon he’ll be paying $80/month for a 10Mbit connection ($8.63 per Mbps per month).

It’s quite true that Phill is paying less per Mbps per month, but his actual bandwidth bill has gone up by $20 (or even more if you compare to when he was paying $32/month for 3Mbps service).

If you look at the averages, I’d guess that the average cost paid per month for high speed internet has been rising in this country over the last few years.  The low cost option has long been something like $20/month for an intermittant 256kbps DSL connection, which is pretty crummy, so people avoid it.  Meanwhile, the high end of what people can and do pay keeps going up which simple math tells us is going to shift the average up.

The other thing to consider is a 7Mbps jump from 3 to 10 Mbps isn’t going to improve people’s internet experience as much as a bump from 256kbps to 3Mbps.  First off, moving from 3Mbps to 10Mbps is only a 3.3x boost, while the move from 256kbps to 3Mbps is an 12x improvement.  Second, and perhaps more importantly, most of what most people use the web for is either constrained by latency, rather than bandwidth, or is constrained by bandwidth somewhere other than the last mile to the customer.

Either way, Phill’s $82/month 10Mbps connection is over 2.5x more expensive than his old $32/month 3Mbps connection.  The question is, does it feel 2.5x better? I can’t speak for Phill, but for most people, myself included, I’m sure the answer is “NO.”

(The boost from 256kbps to 1Mbps upstream has got to be nice though)

Is Rojo Log Spamming?

Rojo is a web based feed aggregator. Their bot requests my blog’s feed multiple times a day, and there is something fishy about the whole thing.

The user agent for each request looks like these:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.2.1; Rojo 1.0; http://www.rojo.com/corporate/help/agg/; Aggregating on behalf of 10 subscriber(s) online at http://www.rojo.com/?feed-id=2704248) Gecko/20021130

If I view the first link to their help page, I get an error message. I’m guessing that they’ve redone their URL structure without bothering to update the bot, and without putting in sensible redirects.

If vanity takes hold and I try viewing the second link to see if I can learn more about these 10 subscribers of mine who use Rojo, I end up viewing what appears to be their undifferentiated home page, rather than the page they construct from my feed.

So, what’s going on here, are they just sloppy and haven’t updated their bot to reflect the new URL structure they are using, or are they deliberately baiting me to check out their site with inflated claims of my readership?

My gut tell’s me it’s the former. But when I manually search out the page for Geekfun on their site, it reports that Geekfun only has 1 subscriber, not 10 as their crawler claims, which makes me think they are up to no good.

It doesn’t make me want to do them any favors, so I’ve pulled the subscribe with rojo link off my sidebar so I don’t risk sending them any of my over-ample traffic.