This, That and the Other Thing

It’s a day of odds and ends and gathering bits that didn’t find a home earlier. Ultimately I will return to my recurring question — where is the money to support web media?

First, browsers. Earlier this week I mentioned that Firefox has ad-blocking capabilities. There’s been lots of buzz about Firefox (on the open source aspect, not the ad-blocking). Wired News reacted by running a story in which Opera chief executive Jon von Tetzchner laments that his alternative browser is being overlooked. My takeaway — when little guys try something new, they need shtick. Conversely, when you’re big, you get attention even when you’d rather cover your tracks. Thus Google’s hiring of Firefox engineer Ben Goodger has renewed speculation about its browser ambitions.

Quickly, I came across a note that Kanoodle, the New York affiliate advertising firm, has elevated Lance Podell from president to chief executive (though when I went to their bio page today it hadn’t been updated). Skimming their news releases I found a link to a new ad sales system geared to bloggers, which may be of interest to some.

With that segue into money land, a recent article in MediaDailyNews, citing data from AdZone research, suggests a “slightly lower rate of ad expansion during 2005 than in 2004.” A snippet on technology marketers, who are the biggest ad spenders, made me take note: In December, they spent roughly $148 million for over 17.6 billion impressions, down from October, when they spent $188 million for around 17 billion Web impressions. I’m not sure how AdZone defines impressions but clearly the price of ads has dropped as content enters the market faster than ad dollars. Must be tough for web-based ad sellers.

Finally, getting personal, the Center for Media Research published a demographic profile of people who use dating services. In brief, they are slightly more male than female, but not absurdly so, solidly middle class, and generally in the 35 to 55 age bracket. I believe most of these are paid services. In light of the apparent downward pressure on ad prices, web publishers might start singing a different tune, more along the lines of finding match-making opportunities rather than push advertising. I’m not saying everyone should get into personals. Instead, look for ways to make money by linking people for something other than love.

Post script: When I searched for the lyrics of Matchmaker, Matchmaker, because the tune was in my head, my first choice directed me to a site offering to sell me Zero Mostel ring tones for my cell phone. What a world!

Tom Abate