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Blogs: Phenomena or Force? (Part 1)

Dawn Anfuso
Blogs: Phenomena or Force? (Part 1) Dawn Anfuso

Jeff Jarvis is president and creative director for Advance.Net, which oversees the internet vision and strategy for Advance Publications, Inc. Products include CondéNet and Advance Internet. Over the past five years, CondéNet, working with the magazines of Condé Nast, has created national brands including concierge.com, epicurious.com and style.com. During this same period, Advance Internet, working with Advance Publications' newspapers, has developed local brands including nj.com, cleveland.com and OregonLive.com.

Jarvis enlightened the audience at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Springs in February about the growing importance of, what he calls, "Citizen's Media." Here's the first third of his speech:

Jeff Jarvis: Let’s say I’m publishing a new gadget magazine. How would I use "Citizen's Media" to promote that and to market that? Well, I could go out and just try to advertise, or I could do something different. I could go find the best gadget blogs. There are great gadget blogs now -- tons of them, tons of bloggers who love to write about gadgets. My twelve-year-old son at JakeJarvis.com writes about gadgets and gets money out of Google AdSense, which beats my allowance that I give him, by the way. 

So, you can find the best gadget bloggers. Find the hundred best gadget bloggers, right? Then, say, “Here’s an award. Here’s an Honorarium. We’re supporting you. We’re underwriting you. We’re telling your audience we like you, too.” Kumbya, let’s all hug, right? It’s a community. It’s a conversation. 

Then you can say to that same blogger, “Well, I’ve got a new magazine. Why don’t I give you an ad to sell subscriptions and I’ll give you a spiff for every sub you sell.” The blogger is going to say, “Thank you.” The blogger is going to be very happy. Then, why don’t you say to the same blogger, “Alright, here’s an ad avail. Put that up, and I’ll sell the ads and I’ll share the revenue with you. And, I can go to my advertisers and I can extend my reach of my audience into this new distributed world of influencers. That’s how you say, you shift from “we want your money” to “we share your interest.” You help underwrite and support what’s going on anyway out there in the world. 

Finally, Fred Wilson, a friend of ours, says that the push model of advertising is toast -- get over it. So, how big is this thing that I get so triumphal about? Pew just released a study that said that 7 percent of internet users -- eight million Americans -- now blog. The important number is that thirty-two million Americans read blogs. In this chart, the pink line is the readers. The blue line is the authors. So, this is turning into a real market, a real medium, with a real audience. 

Twelve percent post comments. It is a conversation; it is interactive. Five percent use RSS. (Don’t worry about that quite yet, in a few weeks you’ll worry about RSS.) Technorati is a wonderful service that tracks the links among blogs so it enables the conversation. When I post … I’ll tell you about that in a few seconds. But, Technorati tracks now 6.6 million blogs, of which more than half are active. Eight hundred million links among the blogs, right? Forty thousand new blogs every day. I saw Dave Sifry, the founder, a few days ago and I said I was putting this slide of, as he calls it “info porn,” into this presentation and I said, “You still seeing about fifteen thousand new a day?” And, he said, “No, that was a few months ago. Fifteen thousand a few months ago; forty thousand now.” Now, yes, half of them will die off; but, then that’s still twenty thousand new blogs a day continuing on and on and on -- it’s growing.

PubSub is another service that tracks blogs --they track eight million blogs. Twelve hundred posts a minute they track. That’s the conversation that’s happening out there. So, figure that there are seven to eight million blogs in America. At FourSquare, I asked Jonathan Miller how much time his consumers spend on the content that his consumers create. And he said, “Sixty to 70 percent.” The point is that our stuff (remember I’m Blog Boy, not a big media guy), our stuff has value. It’s not just the value of big media. The citizens say that what we do has value.

A few examples: You probably all know, (you should know -- and have seen here before), Nick Denton at Gawker Media. Nick is a friend of mine, he introduced me to blogging long ago, and when he showed me I said, “What, what’s the big deal?,” I’ll admit. Nick founded Moreover, and I’m on the board of Moreover, (so that’s the full transparent disclosure here). Nick has created something amazing in Gawker Media with no money at all. Entertainment Weekly went through two hundred million dollars before breaking even (none of which was my fault) quick add … it was all circulation, damn it. Nick spends, you know, a few thousand dollars to launch a new product. Right now he has 2.5 million uniques a month; thirty million page views a month. You’ve seen him get press everywhere. He has created talent for other media -- Ana Marie Cox from the Wonkette is on TV all the time. His advertisers are flocking to him. Nike, as you know, did something recently with him. Audi launched a new blog with him. His advertisers include Sony, GE, AT&T, Disney, Viacom, HP, Jose Cuervo, British Airways, Playboy, CNET, Comedy Central, Amazon.com, Warner Bros., Absolut. That’s pretty amazing for one guy in a loft. That’s what you can do now.  You can start new, credible media properties from the virtual garage.

Technorati I mentioned before, I’m going to mention again because it’s important -- it enables the conversation. Here on this page is my page. So, these are the people who link to Buzzmachine. I go to it with an egotistical fervor to find out what people are saying, not so much about me, but they’re reacting to what I’ve written. So the conversation doesn’t just happen in a forum, or in my comments, the conversation is distributed, right? Technorati brings it together. So, I write something in my blog. Somebody writes something on their blog and links to me. Because of that link, I now see what they said about what I said. I react to what they say; somebody else joins in. That’s how the conversation happens. So, here there are 2,533 sources -- 2500 blogs linking to my blog off their homepage. And, here’s how I find out -- so this was a few days ago, after the Iraqi election -- and, so the first post there says that I’ve noticed the shrill harpies on the left (mind you I’m a liberal, too) who didn’t think it was good news. So this conversation was going on like crazy for a few days. Then, it dies off. Something else comes along.

Hyper-local, I want to spend just a minute on this. This now puts my “job hat” back on. At Advance Internet, our local newspaper related sites, we’re trying to figure out how to use blogs to extend our reach, extend our content, extend the means by which we can gather news and content at the same time that our revenue is shrinking. Extend the means by which we can serve new advertisers at the same time that classified advertising is shrinking. So, the idea is, we’re creating town blogs with citizens bringing us content. Is it fully journalism? No, it’s citizens giving us content. It’s citizens saying what’s going on in their towns. And, so they bring the content into the blogs -- the idea goes, it’s still unproven -- and, if we can get down to a town level, then, we can now laser focus advertising and automate it to get down and finally bring in the pizzeria, the dry cleaner and the lawyer we never had before because they couldn’t afford us. And, so as we’re losing revenue on the top line from Classified (thank you, Craig), can we get in a new population of advertisers on the bottom line?

goskokie.com is a project I did with students at Northwestern to test this out in Skokie. In 11 weeks they got a credible product going with people in town contributing content. Baristanet.com is by a journalist named Debbie Galant who was a New York Times Jersey columnist. She now covers three towns in New Jersey. She goes out and covers all the events; she sells advertising; she gives away free Classifieds. She’s doing that as a one-woman shop, and she’s getting people who are contributing stuff and sending her stuff and she is now becoming a new community paper. Compare that to the paper you got in your room this morning and see which is going to be more vibrant and which is going to involve people more. I hate to say it.

The Northwest Voice, out in Bakersfield, did something that I wish I’d done first, but they beat me to it. They took citizens’ content in; put it in blogs; turned around, freeze dried that; and, printed a newspaper out of it. Distribute that total market coverage in Bakersfield in a neighborhood there; sell advertising in that -- after two issues, it’s profitable. The content of the citizens is valuable to the citizens. 

Bloggers make money one off. One political blogger made $150,000 last year thanks to the election. I asked bloggers what they made. One hobbyist blogger with an Olympics blog and a camera blog I’d never heard of makes $40,000 out of Google, AdSense, and Amazon.com, and Blogads.

At Bloggercon, we love to make up really obnoxious names for things. Bloggercon is a conference of bloggers at Harvard. I gave a session on blogs making money, you’d think that I would have been drummed out of the room, “No, you are corrupting this.” Quite the contrary. The room was jammed with sweaty bloggers dying to make a living of this. They want to quit their day jobs and do this. They want to become William Randolph Hearsts. 

Right now, about the only way you can efficiently buy ads and blogs at all is through Blogads. It’s a small company run by a wonderful guy named Henry Copeland. You can go in and you can buy the blogs one at a time. That’s inefficient -- I’ll get more into that in a minute. But, that’s what exists today. 

Blogs are not just about content and advertising; they’re also, of course, about customer relationships. You need to read what people are saying about your publications and your advertising. The marketers need to do this. There’s a blogger who blogs just about Netflix. He loves Netflix. Netflix is his life and his passion. He went to Netflix and asked to get to their PR -- somebody was asking for flattery. Do you know what Netflix did? They said, “No, you are not a journalist.” What idiots. So, of course he did what every blogger does -- he blogged about it on his blog and everyone read about that and how stupid Netflix was. There’s a different way to look at customer relationships.

Treos. I have my Treo, love my Treo. Dave and I were doing Treogeek a minute ago, right? Well, I just did customer service with Dave because he wanted a new mail program and I told him what to use. He didn’t call Treo to get that. He didn’t call Sprint to get that (God knows), right? Customer to customer. Treo Central is an amazing place where the customers are customer support-free. They’re marketing-free. It’s amazing, if you harness this and embrace this, something happens. 

Finally, on this slide, I’ve seen cases where there are brands and companies I haven’t liked, and I finally got the idea that I went into Google and I put the name of the brand in followed by the word “sucks.” I would like to call that the Jarvis Sucks Index, but I think that doesn’t ring right. But, you’ll be amazed what you see because that is the standard nomenclature for things people don’t like. So, put a brand in followed by “sucks” and see what happens.

You can also use blogs for corporate purposes. Bob Lutz, the legendary car designer, now Vice Chairman of GM, just started blogging. He’s doing a good job. His first post was about how Saturn is too dull and we’re fixing that. There was a human honesty there that was important. What’s happened now is that bloggers have gotten mad that he’s not blogging enough.

You can do product blogs. I think it’s rare that that’s going to work, but Maytag has done one for it’s SkyBox, the -- I think $500 drink dispenser you can have in your home for Super Bowl. You shouldn’t do it (in some cases), this is a little bit old now, but a milk-based soft drink, Dr. Pepper, did a blog by a cow. How insulting can you get? This is a human medium. That’s like going to a wedding in a cow costume, right? It’s a human medium. Treat me at a human level. If you try to make this funny and cute, it’s going to be found out. This is a very transparent medium. 

So, a few dos and don’ts about Citizens’ Media: the first is heresy. You cannot obsess about ROI -- there’s no measurement. Now, to make advertising explode in this new medium, we do need three things that don’t exist today. (And, I hope that somebody’s going to come to me from the room and say, “Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re working on that.”) Number one is, we need author and audience metrics. How big is it? Who are they? All the stuff the advertisers always want, we don’t have in Citizens’ Media. And, I say author because, imagine your launching a new Avril Lavigne album, you might want to be on the blogs written by seventeen-year-old girls, not just read by seventeen-year-old girls. Right? There’s new ways to look at this. 

Two is: targeting a network creation. If I want to advertise Epicurious, our wonderful Epicurious (Jen’s here), on blogs, I would want to find the top, let’s say hundred food blogs. I could define “top” in a number of ways -- traffic, audience. I could go to Technorati and find the blogs that have the most influence. I could go to Technorati and find out the blogs who are ahead of the path and start conversations. Then, finally, of course, performance metrics, so we can measure that. That doesn’t really exist, yet. We need that to make us expand so we can create networks. 

The last thing we need is new measurement. This is not about the coincidence of a word on a page, like Google. This is not about played audience. It’s about relationships. It’s about influence. We need to be able to start measuring influence.

Tomorrow: Marketers need to embrace, read and interact with blogs.

Jeff Jarvis is president and creative director for Advance.Net, which oversees the internet vision and strategy for Advance Publications, Inc. Products include CondéNet and Advance Internet. Over the past five years, CondéNet, working with the magazines of Condé Nast, has created national brands including concierge.com, epicurious.com and style.com. During this same period, Advance Internet, working with Advance Publications' newspapers, has developed local brands including nj.com, cleveland.com and OregonLive.com.

Jarvis enlightened the audience at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Springs in February about the growing importance of, what he calls, "Citizen's Media." Read the first third of his speech here. Today: Beyond blogs.

Jeff Jarvis: So, what do you do about blogs? Embrace them. First, rather than putting them off and saying, “Oh no, they’re new little competitors.” They’re not. You have a relationship with them. Embrace them. The first step is, read them. Get editors to read them; make new stars; involve -- it’s a relationship. 

Two is, interact with the bloggers. They know about your products; they know about our publications; they know about our sites. We should interact with them and involve them in the conversation. 

The third is, underwrite them. Advertise on them. That will make them happy. I talked to an advertiser a few minutes ago who said, “Well, we’re afraid of advertising on them because it will seem like we’re trying to buy them.” No, you are helping them. And, they’ve got to deal with the same issues of church and state that we all deal with in media, but they’ll deal with it. 

And, then, finally, maybe you can start blogs and join the conversation. But, realize this isn’t to be owned and taken over by big media, this is the people’s medium.

Okay, that’s it for Citizens’ Media. Two other topics -- real quickly -- then, we’ll get to questions.

Sell-side advertising is a wacky idea, that’s why I’m bringing it up. It started with a conversation among blogs. I blogged about how we need to measure influence. Ross Mayfield who started a wiki company whose name I’m suddenly forgetting, blogged back, “Yeah, we need to do more than that. We need to stop measuring impressions and start measuring the impressed.” Nice line, but what he really meant was there are new ways to look at this relationship. 

Then, John Battelle, who you remember from various media ventures who’s now writing a book about search, came back in and this conversation yielded something called sell-side advertising. We’ll just play with this for a second. The idea here is that, what if the publishers picked the ads that ran on their sites? In a performance perfect world where you are held accountable for your performance, why shouldn’t you be the best to say what you’d want on your site? You only get paid for performance. So, what if an advertiser put out ads there and then said, “Okay, anybody can take them. Put them on your site, but you’ll only get paid for performance?" The ads have to be smart. They have to have a budget, and they have to dwindle down, but I’ve seen that happening. I’ve seen coupons for Dell that expire after five thousand uses. That exists today. So, what about a world where suddenly, you pick the ads that appear on your site? It’s a different way to look at it, but again in a performance-based world it starts to make a lot of sense. 

So, that conversation went on, we called it sell-side advertising. John wrote a column in the last issue of MIT Technology Review, he called it Publisher-Driven Advertising to make it friendly to this group. I don’t like that name because it’s not just about publishers, it’s about a lot more control than that.

Now, go the next step. If you are responsible for performance; you are only paid on performance; if you get to pick the ad, shouldn’t you also have something to do with the creative? The problem we’ve had from the beginning of pay-per-click, right? So, look at what’s happening with advertising. We have the VW ad this week (or this month), the Polo exploding car. Yeah, sure VW wasn’t happy about it, but it sure got them a lot of publicity. Or, there have been iPod ads created by the people.

Or, take this one: [Nick] Denton, when he started Jalopnik, his new auto-blog, with Audi -- mind you, does branding advertising work online? Yes, it does, because Audi bought into a product that had no traffic, that didn’t even exist yet. But, they bought into it because they said, “We want to be associated with this new, cool, thing that Denton is doing.” So, anyway, as he’s going along Denton tried to create new units. And, Denton thinks like this. He thinks cheap. He thinks new. And, he said, “Well, I’m going to go off and find good things people are saying about Audi in the forums and blogs.” And then he created them, brought those over and just put them in an ad unit with links to those things. That’s the ad unit. The consumers created the content of the ad. The consumers created the creative. Who better to sell your product than consumers? And, Denton helped Audi get there.

Next, step further. Why shouldn’t consumers be allowed to control their targeting? “I’m sorry I’m not in the market for a car right now. Save your money, don’t buy my eyeballs.” “I am in the market for a car right now -- bring it on!” Right? Why shouldn’t we turn to that model where you can do that? All right, so that’s a little riff on sell-side advertising -- it’s out there. Is it going to happen? I don’t know. But, that’s the kind of conversation you will find about marketing, about our business, in blogs.

But now, go one step further. We all assume that media is about a centralized marketplace. This is a decentralized world. It is a distributed world. Craig’s List has burned up, according to one study, sixty-five million dollars on classified revenue, just in the San Francisco market.  He didn’t move it. He destroyed it. Craig is having more impact on the news business than anybody. But, Craig is nothing but a cheaper marketplace, right? People went from the newspaper to Craig. 

But, where it’s really going to go is beyond Craig. Craig is just a way station. What’s really happening now is that my resume can be online with the right tags on it; a job can be online with the right tags on it; and, there are now search engines that are out there to put those two together. Buyer and seller meet, with no centralized marketplace. It’s all distributed. It’s all decentralized. How you make money on that, I have no idea. And, that should kind of scare us all about how that operates. 

But, we’re going to a world where things are distributed. You can’t go buy it all. You can’t bring it all in under your tent. You have got to find a way to create new networks and get yourself out there. That’s why you advertise in the top hundred gadget blogs or food blogs. That’s why you help underwrite them. That’s why you involve them. You don’t go try to create them yourself. It costs too much money. Think distributed.

Okay, last topic: exploding TV. It’s the power of the network that no one owns. There are various means of creating new video, right now. (Fear not, you will not hear sound on this.) This is created with a tool called Visual Communicator, in my basement, with green plastic behind me and a tool that allows me to simply (and it’s really cruddy and it’s really awful, but bear with me for a second), the tool costs 90 dollars -- 99 dollars -- the camera costs 90 bucks. It gives you a teleprompter on the screen so now I can have something to say. It allows me to put in drag and drop insertions of lower thirds, audio/video, whatever, onto the script, so as I speak, it’s recorded. There is no post-production. So, now you can create video. You can be Andy Rooney, or something better, in your basement. You can act like you are in front of the White House. You can do whatever. Video is going to explode. 

There are various tools to do this. Vlogs (remember we make up obnoxious words for things?), “vlogs” are video web logs. BitTorrent is a means of distributing video without bandwidth cost. Podcasting. Anybody here heard of “podcasting?” Okay. Good. Podcasting, for those who don’t know, is really, as Doc Searls says, “the prototype for the media distribution of the future.”

People are downloading (don’t we know). AdAge wrote about it last week, that iPods are having a big effect on radio. Well, now the people are creating content to be downloaded on those iPods. It’s a prototype because it’s going to go to the phone. It’s going to go to the point where I’ll get whatever I want whenever I want it. That means the TV gets distributed. It works because there are now four legs of the stool in place. There’s cheap equipment. There are new easy tools -- like Visual Communicator and Macintoshes. There’s marketing. 

How do you find this stuff? Well, you don’t need to market it, you have blogs -- links -- right? When James Wolcott started his blog at Vanity Fair, I helped him do it, and I just asked, “Let me announce it.” So, I put up one post that said, “Wolcott -- big brand -- is blogging.” People picked it up like crazy and he had traffic that day. Not because I had any power, because the network had power. And, there’s open distribution now. When John Stewart went on "Crossfire" and bless his heart, killed it, that got, what five hundred thousand people on the show? (Less. less, says the man who knows.) Well, it’s gotten at least five million now on the network that no one owns -- through iFilm and through BitTorrent. That network is more powerful than CNN. That means something to all of us who think, “centralized.”

So, my second law of media is: lowering the cost of production and distribution in the media, inevitably leads to “nichification.” If you lower it enough, you’ll get an unlimited supply of people making content. This is a scarcity killer.

So, finally (the end of the thing), how do you think when you come out of this medium? How do you think when you start to put on the Blog Boy uniform everyday, and you get involved in it? Well, first and foremost you think consumer control. How are the ways I can give the people control? Because they’re going to like it; they’re going to use it. It’s going to put me in a good position. Bose tried it with the music industry. Let’s NOT let them have any control! Look what’s happened to them. 

Two, think relationships. Be human. Level with people. Talk to them. Have a relationship with them -- that’s what matters here. 

Three, think “niches.” Everything’s going to the niche. Mass market is dead. Massive niches take its place. 

Four -- the only way you can make this work is by creating networks of niches and putting them together. 

And, finally, think distributed media. It doesn’t all have to happen under our roof. It doesn’t all have to happen in the things that we own, that we create, that we control. It’s going to happen out there no matter what we do. So, how do we get involved with the people out there? How do we read them and make them stars? How do we underwrite them? How do we get involved in the conversation with them? How do we respect them? And, if we can do that, we will still be the centralized marketplace.

I went out and talked to the online news association a while ago, and I asked on my blog, “What should I say to these big 'mockers'?” And, one guy came in and he said, “Tell them that an online newspaper should no longer think of itself as a thing. It should start to think of itself as a place. It’s a place where people come together and do neat things, and we manage to make that happen.”

So, finally, if I can be of any help, I’m not selling anything, except the wonders of this new medium as Blog Boy, right? If I can help anybody, let me know. Because it’s a wonderful new medium, it changes the way you think about media, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Tomorrow: Jeff Jarvis answers tough questions.

Jeff Jarvis is president and creative director for Advance.Net, which oversees the internet vision and strategy for Advance Publications, Inc. Products include CondéNet and Advance Internet. Over the past five years, CondéNet, working with the magazines of Condé Nast, has created national brands including concierge.com, epicurious.com and style.com. During this same period, Advance Internet, working with Advance Publications' newspapers, has developed local brands including nj.com, cleveland.com and OregonLive.com.

In the first part of his speech, Jarvis enlightened the audience at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Springs in February about the growing importance of, what he calls, "Citizen's Media." In part two, he described consumer-generated media beyond blogs, including vlogs. In this final segment, he answers tough questions.

Craig Calder: Hi, this is Craig Calder, from DoubleClick. You mentioned podcasting and I’ve been following it. Can you talk a little bit about what Adam Curry is doing to kind of single-handedly create this market?

Jeff Jarvis: Sure. Adam Curry, who, as you remember was an MTV VJ, one of the originals, is also really geeky, and he is pals with a guy named Dave Winer who is one of the pioneers of blogging. And, so, Adam started making shows. Or, he started listening to audio and he created a little routine that did nothing more than download the audio into his iPod. It talked to iTunes, that’s all it did. But, that made them think, “Ooh, this could explode things.” So, they have made software better so that now there are podcasts. And, a few months ago -- literally, a few months ago -- there was one -- his. Today there are thousands, literally, of people creating radio. And, all they are doing is using cheap/free tools like Audacity in their garages, and they’re using music wherever they find it and they are creating radio shows. And, it’s meant to be downloaded into your iPod. And, I find that I’m now using my iPod to listen to books and things in the car, so it makes perfect sense as a medium that this is where this is going. And, so they have created means of, number one: the software to let you download it. Number two: they’re starting to create portals where you can find these things, which is always the problem. And, then, number three: he’s going to create kind of a Best of Show, and see where this goes. So, this will start expanding. 

Now, Doc Searls said that it’s really the prototype for the new medium because, if you think about it, the transistor yielded the transistor radio, yielded rock-n-roll, right? Well, this yields the new way to save it. Now I download it into my iPod. But, very soon I’m going to just ask for it on my broadband phone. And, I’ll get whatever I want, whenever I want it, from wherever I want it. And, what it really means is that live is dead.

The need to fit to somebody’s schedule just doesn’t exist anymore, right? So it’s getting a little highfalutin, but that’s really where this starts to go. And, they’re at the beginning of it. And, I think we have the chance now to say, “Maybe we can figure out ways to sponsor this stuff and underwrite it and get the business sense into it early.” In blogs and RSS, the business sense was not there and now we’ve got to try to retrofit it in. With podcasts and video we are there very early. Does that answer your question?

Max Robins: Hi, Jeff.

Jarvis: Howdy, Max.

Robins: What does the advertiser, the marketer, do, like a film company who has to open big on a weekend? Anybody. Or, that New England Toyota dealer when it has a Columbus weekend sale? How are they going to reach a mass audience if it all gets disparate  ? If it all becomes prime time is my time? It’s inevitable we’re going that way. Anybody who has a DVR stops watching commercials. What happens?

Jarvis: I don’t know. I think it’s a very good question -- it’s the right question. I think that’s where, though … if the ad infrastructure exists across networks of these things, then you have the opportunity to advertise just like you do today. But, you are going to reach a distributed, disparate audience, you are going to have to cage   it together. The problem with buying blogs today is you literally buy one at a time. That won’t work, right? But, on the other hand, Google (God bless its heart) took the cooties off of Citizens’ Media, right? Nobody would buy homepages before because there was no sense of quality. Now there’s a sense of quality there and it works. So, I think what you’ll see -- and, the problem with Google is that it sells the lowest rung of the value chain -- the coincidence of a word on the page. 

This medium is all about relationships. So, I just blogged this morning about this, saying that, “That’s fine, we shouldn’t let Google take all of this.” We’ve got to figure out how to add the value we add in Citizens’ Media to this, and relationships, but create those kinds of networks, so if somebody comes in and says, “I want to buy for a week,” they can get a critical massive audience that’s highly targeted and is really a conversation.

Robins: I mean, then doesn’t the value of something like the Super Bowl last night, I mean, ummm …

Jarvis: That still exists … no medium replaces the medium that comes before.

Robins: We did a study at Broadcasting & Cable, we found 2.4 million dollars for a 30-second commercial was actually a very efficient buy.

Jarvis: Yes. But, you also saw in the story the Times did on Friday about Google that you have the same advertisers who are advertising in the Super Bowl are advertising in Google AdSense. Pretty soon those same advertisers will be advertising in Citizens’ Media because it’s smart, it’s incredibly cheap, and it doesn’t replace the Super Bowl, but it changes your media mix and your media plan to be more efficient.

Shawn Riegsecker: Morning, Jeff.

Jarvis: Hi, long time no see Shawn.

Riegsecker: Okay, here we go. Actually, first I’ll actually compliment you saying that I like how you have your one toe in one pond and one toe in the other pond in regards to no matter what happens you're taken care of either way. But, having said that, I’m just wondering, if a mass media company has the ability to harness really where this industry is going, who of the mass media has the best opportunity to harness it, and what does that mean to even the newspapers that you are working with?

Jarvis: That’s a great question, Sean, and I don’t know the answer so I’ll make one up. What does it mean to harness, right? There’s two ways to harness it. One is a content way, which is to say that I want to take this content and give them respect and put them in here, right? So, I think that any mass media company can do that. We are doing it at Advance. Other newspaper companies are starting to do that. Journalists are very cautious about that, but it can happen. There’s no reason TV networks could not start doing the same thing. So, there’s a content structure. 

But, the real way you are talking about is an ad structure. That’s where we need this infrastructure. So, it’s DoubleClick and TACODA getting together and creating a new means of establishing these networks. You know, can Yahoo! turn around and say that, “We’ll support these blogs?” I think the key to making it work is to let it live where it’s living. Don’t try to buy it. Don’t try to take it over. Let it be where it is and find the ways to advertise across it and share the content across it. And, then I don’t think anybody necessarily leads. We all just take part in it. Which is a non-answer answer, I know.

Question: (inaudible) How far can this medium really go …?

Jarvis: Farther than you could ever think. That’s why I made the first law of media: give consumers control and they will take it more than I ever thought. Yes, our assumption in big media is: they want to be served. Well, yes we do. Sure we do; a lot of the times we do. But, in the areas that matter to us most, we want the most control. The fact that I have control over my Treo without Sprint, and never having to call Sprint’s service, it’s control, right? How do I do that? My fellow Treo customers. We’re a community of Treo customers, as geeky as that is. That’s control. 

These numbers -- I mean 32 million is a big audience. That’s a huge audience. That’s significant. That’s about people reading each other. Eight million is a huge community of creators -- more than you’d ever imagine. And, that doesn’t include the people who are putting posts, or reading posts, at Treo Central. So, I think that the control to consumer is not about -- the old argument was, no they want to watch the TV show and we’ll give them new tools to create a new ending and nobody wants to do that -- no, because that’s not truly control. Or people in my business, they thought interactivity was about pushing a lot of buttons. No, interactivity is about interacting with human beings. So, if you give people control you will inevitably be surprised at how much they want it, and how much they use it, and how much it matters to them. And, I think we have to really change that thinking.

Question: Jeff, from your presentation and knowledge of blogs, it appears that most of these people come to prevalence through the use of organic search listings to get their first hits and then word of mouth begins to kick in. So, what are your thoughts on the risks to this media and it’s potential growth, if per se Google or Yahoo! decides to decrease the relevancy that’s currently being given to weblogs, because of the rich content and their daily updating, as there are some rumblings that are currently going on that Google is going to start taking actions to reducing these relevant ... ?

Jarvis: That’s been rumbled for months. For everyone who doesn't know, because blogs are so current and so filled with links, and Google is based on the value of links, blogs and Google are a marriage. Some say, “Oh, they're too big versus the people.” The folks who we invested in -- Pyra, the creator of Blogger, now owned by Google (full disclosure), but the folks there say that they have dealt with this first hand at Google. They bought a blogging company, that there’s no intention of doing that. If they did do it, it would have some impact, sure. But, the network that no one owns is already out there, is already powerful. So, a lot of that traffic was created when James Wolcott went online for Vanity Fair. He didn’t get his traffic because of Vanity Fair. The next issue wasn’t out, yet. He didn’t get his traffic from Google. He wasn’t there, yet. He got his traffic from the viral network of the people. So, we’ve gone a little bit past our dependence upon Google in terms of search. We still need it -- God Bless Google. We’re getting past our dependence upon their advertising. We still like it -- God Bless Google. But, this thing is becoming a network in and of itself.

Question: (inaudible)

Jarvis: The mechanism is the marketplace itself. Ken Layne of Blogger says to mainstream media, “We can fact check your ass.” Ask Dan Rather. It happens, right? Well, the same thing happens … you know within two hours after Dan Rather got off the air, people showed what those memos looked like on top of each other. The people corrected Dan Rather. His mistake was not listening and waiting twelve days to listen. He should have said, “Thank you.” He didn’t. So, that happens within the blogs. 

If I make a mistake, people come on me like white blood cells on germs, and they attack. Now, sometimes they’re just disagreeing with me and saying I’m full of crap. Fine, they do that a lot. But, there is a self-correcting mechanism to this medium that’s very powerful. If it’s a crackpot out there saying that you can cure diabetes with grapefruit: a.) that person’s probably not going to get any links, and if it's not linked, it’s not content. Or, if they do get links, they’re going to get links of people saying what a crackpot he is.

You have gotta’ trust the people. If we don’t trust the people -- this is a very populist movement -- if we don’t trust the people and the good sense of the people and their means of doing this, then we shouldn’t have a democracy or a free marketplace or any of this stuff, right? So, the specifics of things like medicine. There are medical blogs starting and people link to those and react to those. I can go to Technorati, I can find out what the people are saying about them. I can see whether they’re credible. It really does happen now. This is a self-correcting mechanism. 

So, you have things like Wikipedia, which is a wiki encyclopedia, and Jimbo Wales who founded it said at a recent conference that he looked at the New York Times and said, “Who would have thought when Brittanica had a budget of 350 million dollars to create Brittanica, that in a few years it would be replaced by people doing this for free?” And, Wikipedia does a very good job of maintaining its neutral point of view. Blogs are not neutral. Wikipedia is, because the people come in and they swarm on those who take it too far off. And, that’s what happens. And, I’ve learned to have faith in the people through this medium.

Rick Parkhill: Thanks very much, Jeff.

Jarvis: Thank you all. (Applause)


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