Six Apart, the ad company 21 Jun 2005

12 comments Latest by Mathew

Six Apart teams up with Kanoodle to let TypePad Pro owners earn money from their content. Smart move, although I’m not sure why 6A didn’t just build their own simple ad network (like the non-contextual Blogads or AdBrite), cut the partner, and generate some real revenues. Yeah, I know it’s not as easy as saying “build a simple ad network” but they do have 80 or so people over there. Seems like a 6A ad-network for TypePad and Movable Type blogs would be very attractive to those currently getting by with Adwords and the others. 6A is in a unique position to take on and beat Adwords on blogs.

12 comments (comments are closed)

Dennis Pallett 21 Jun 05

They probably teamed up, because Kanoodle already has an existing advertiser base. 6A doesn’t. And that’s the hard part, getting advertisers.

Mike D. 21 Jun 05

Or, just use Kanoodle, see how they are to work with, and then buy them if it’s going well. Kanoodle is tiny… wouldn’t cost much.

Anil 21 Jun 05

(Disclaimer: I work at Six Apart, but wasn’t involved in the conversations with Kanoodle and am speaking out my ass, really.)

There’s a couple reasons for us not to get into the ad business… the first, and most obvious, is that we’ve kind of already bitten off a big bite of the software world to try to address, bringing blogs to everybody. For all our products and services, we localize them to make them available in languages and countries around the world. We put a professional support team behind each product. And then we market the products and make ways for our partners or community to build businesses on top of them. Just doing that for *blogs* is a huge project, I can’t imagine adding a separate line of business alongside our 3 main products as well.

This boils down to a value that seems to sync well with a lot of the 37s principles you’ve mentioned… stick to what you’re good at. We’ve gotten the experience of adding ads to your blog reduced to just clicking a single checkbox. That level of integration, even though ads are provided by a partner, puts the focus on the user experience being simple and us not having to learn how to do something well when Kanoodle has that as their primary job.

The second point is just a practical one: selling ads is hard. We’d have to create an outbound sales team to sell inventory, create tracking systems for advertisers to measure responses and ROI, do predictions for inventory trends, provide reporting on demographics and statistics about our audiences, and then make all of this available around the world. Seems to me the perfect place to draw the line and partner with a company that makes it possible to offer a really good user experience to TypePad users.

The part that’s interesting to me is that there are blog tools that are made by companies that own ad networks, and most don’t offer *any* way to include ads that you can get paid for (though they do display their own ads) and if they do, it’s a complicated HTML-and-javascript affair. Getting it to be easy is *hard*. :)

JF 21 Jun 05

The second point is just a practical one: selling ads is hard. We’d have to create an outbound sales team to sell inventory, create tracking systems for advertisers to measure responses and ROI, do predictions for inventory trends, provide reporting on demographics and statistics about our audiences, and then make all of this available around the world.

This is where I think 6A (and others) are missing the boat. Let people sell their own ads. Let advertisers find the sites they want to advertise on and make it easy for them to buy ads. The marketplace will make the market — you don’t need to go out and sell a thing. Just give people the tools and they’ll do the work.

Anil 21 Jun 05

“Just give people the tools and they’ll do the work.”

i think that’s true in some contexts, but I don’t think you’d be able to usefully sell inventory on 10 million blogs in 100 different languages just by building an ad system that doesn’t have the economies of scale of being part of Kanoodle or Adsense or Overture. Ad buyers who buy bulk ads have limited time/energies, so it’d be difficult to get any average advertiser to sign up: My local plumber would have to know (1) what 6A’s ads are (2) how to place them and (3) why they’d want to do so. That seems unlikely.

It would succeed if the goal was largely to get other people online, like ebay sellers or bloggers, to advertise their wares. But that wouldn’t probably generate enough revenue to make it compelling for the bloggers who were hosting the ads.

At any rate, I don’t honestly know the specific economics of this, I just know that there’s a very small range of normal, non-web companies which would advertise online with a small network when they could buy into a larger network with more distribution instead.

Sam 21 Jun 05

Isn’t there… just….. I hate ads. I hate them, I hate them, I hate them. Isn’t there a way to make money by blogging withOUT ads. ads make me insane!

Gamecat 22 Jun 05

Sure there is Sam, but the general populace of the ‘net isn’t willing to make micropayments, would you honest give a few pennies each time you wanted to read another entry on a blog? Day in, day out? — I sure wouldn’t, I’d just go find someone saying similar things for cheaper or ideally free and if that involves adverts so be it.

Your other option is of course to install adblock for Firefox, or something like Privoxy for *any* browser to filter said ads out. Only the minority are ever going to go to the effort of filtering ads, and the filtering is done on the client-side, so the advertisers still think their ads are being shown. So for now, I can happily have my cake and eat it.

Anonymous Coward 22 Jun 05

Gamecat, I agree with you about micropayments. The web is built on sharing free content so no one should be forced to pay for it.

MY earlier post was really just a knee-jerk reaction. I guess my point is really: early adopters on the internet are the smartest people I know. Can’t someone think outside the box and come up with a system for generating revenue based on the content that is generated on a blog WITHOUT the ads?

Sam 22 Jun 05

sorry, forgot to put my name on the last post

bort 23 Jun 05

of course, jason knows what’s right for everyone. he always does.