Proof for Niche Verticals or Bubble 2.0?

12 June, 2008

A potential proof point that the future is niche and vertical can be found in the news that has come out of private beta.

Glassdoor Salary Table hopes to capture the power of wikinomics and apply the knowledge to uncover the mystery of the modern workplace…well, that’s probably a bit grand.  In reality Forbes has put it best by calling it Workplace Porn.

The way it works is that people register, give details of their salaries, bonuses, comment on the company, give approval ratings, etc. and Glassdoor then adds this all together.  Techcrunch have a good breakdown on the mechanics.

From what AdViking has read the primary monetisation strategy is through advertising.

You’re probably saying to yourself, this is nothing special and in fact because they were able to raise a $3 million Series B from Benchmark is probably a proof point for Bubble 2.0.

That is until you find out that the company was founded/is managed by the vertical don, Rich Barton and two of his former team at Expedia; Robert Hohman (former President of and Tim Besse.

If anyone can turn a beer mat idea into a viable business, it would be these guys – making this one to watch closely.  In particular, AdViking is keen to see what distribution model they will take, that is destination vs. widely leveraged.


Vertical Zoom – Local Search Summit III in Oslo

6 June, 2008

AdViking has finally recovered (more on that later) enough from the Local Search Summit in Oslo to put finger to keyboard and round off the Vertical Zoom with a quick rundown on AdViking’s key takeaways.

As written previously Local Search Summit (LSS) is an invite-only session between various non-competitive Publishers who are at different stages of deploying a Local Search strategy.

The main points for AdViking were:

  1. Search is a Key Business Enabler
  2. Advertising Growth isn’t Just Search
  3. Paper is Dead.  Long live Digital
  4. Direct Sales Force Publishers have become SEMs

Search is an Enabler

For the LSS publishers, is maturing quickly from a destination strategy into a key infrastructure play  That is by having initially deployed a vertical strategy, people are realising that by having a broad horizontal search infrastructure it can enable Publishers to quickly build and deploy verticals, e.g.:  Search driven hyper-local algorithmic digital newspapers.

Advertising Growth isn’t Just Search

Three main points to consider about this topic.

It might be obvious to most in the industry but one important recent penny drop is that Display is still here and not going away.  There’s lots of examples out there but here’s one example from the IAB/PWC comparing 06 to 07 ad spending in the US.

One example is some current thinking that AdViking it putting into around Contextual and how it is probably going to be more effective for Contextual ads to move from the typical AdSense model of PPC and apply the inventory management algorithms of Display.

Paper is Dead.  Long live Digital

One Publisher shared the fact that driven by demand from China, the cost of stock printing paper has risen to $1000 per tonne and rising.  Until recently, it was typically established  around $600.  Obvious impact of this is that it’s getting more expensive to put anything to paper.

Another interesting point was that there is now an increasingly environmental push that is starting to have an impact.  e.g.:  The Norwegian government has banned the printing of the Yellow Pages book.

Direct Sales Force Publishers have become SEMs

It’s confirmed that Publishers are leveraging their feet on the street  to become SEMs to their advertisers.  From evidence at the LSS (e.g.:  Directories are selling video ads created through partnerships with companies like Spotzer, Spot Runner) AdViking would go as far to say that they are becoming digital media agencies with a mix of selling directly to brands, agencies and the SME advertiser.

As for recovered, that’s a comment on the night time activities.  First of all, due to excellent weather and the time of year – the sun didn’t really set and it was quickly 2am but felt like 11pm.  That matched against the fact that AdViking had organised for everyone to stay at the new design hotel Grims Grenka and the nights for LSS was the ground opening parties on the rooftop bar which to quote one of the attendees, “this is amazing, it’s a supermodel party on the roof”!

Post-Script: LSS member, Irish Times have launched their new search service.  It’s work going to have a look as they have done some great things with pushing Search forward.  A Fuller View has more on A New Local Search Site in Ireland – relaunched

Vertical Zoom – First Impressions are Often Right and Local Search Summit

22 May, 2008

AdViking has now had time to mull over first impressions from the International Classifieds Media Association General Meeting in Brussels last week and has decided that those first thoughts written in the early morning while waiting to board a flight back to the UK were pretty spot on.

Saying that, AdViking does want to also suggest that you have a look at LocalOnliner.  Especially as Peter has some interesting thoughts and was coming to Brussels on the back of Kelsey’s Drilling Down on Local conference, including sharing some of the musings of the Don of Vertical, Rich Barton.

Which reminds AdViking that it’s less than a week until the Local Search Summit in Oslo.  This is an invite-only session between various non-competitive Publishers who are at different stages of deploying a Local Search strategy.  The agenda is packed for two days of knowledge sharing, networking and blue sky thinking and should finish off the Vertical Zoom nicely.

Vertical Zoom – Early (morning) Thoughts from ICMA

16 May, 2008

Some of AdViking’s first thoughts from the ICMA General Meeting in Brussels.

The Publishers as a whole get that Print is in decline, Online is growing and they need to ramp up their online strategies. Though, AdViking is sure they would love to have the growth in Print that India enjoys!

Only a few, seem to understand that a good Monetisation strategy is fundamental to their success and now’s the time to do it. A lot less questions than the B2B folks about why don’t I just partner with Google and that’s my online strategy.

It’s a mixed bag on those Publishers who also get that Search is critical. Which is strange if you think that for Classifieds, how can they be anything but Search (even if they have put together a taxonomy driven approach – that’s still Search).

The future is about vertical, niche sites that share an underlying common platform (e.g.: Search).

In general, everyone is a bit brow beaten by the success of Schibsted and are looking for someone else to proof out what the Norwegians are saying.

It’s not a huge jump anymore for the Publishers to think about joining forces with non-competitive Publishers in their markets to band together for some sort of network play.

Phrase capture: Monetisation is fundamental. Mapping is Key. Some believe they are in the position to mimic Directories and become SEMs to their advertisers. MOBILE is key – especially for untethered countries (e.g.: India) – though no-one gave truly compelling reasons to accept the channel.

Tag capture: Synergies for assets. Utilise high performing. Explore under performing.

All in all, a much more upbeat and dynamic event compared to the B2B one. Go get them Classifieds.

Vertical Zoom – Traditional Publishers Announce B2B Ad Network

13 May, 2008

Zoom on Verticals

AdViking is having a month of zooming down on various verticals* and naturally a side effect has been the tracking of relevant items. Which is why AdViking just came across the news that another ad network has been launched.

BBN (Business-to-Business Network) is going to be run by WPP’s 24/7 Real Media on behalf of traditional B2B publishers: Cygnus Business Media, Nielsen Business Media, Reed Business Information and McGraw-Hill. Only numbers being touted is the network will have a reach of 10 million unique visitors a month.

Why it’s interesting:

  • It’s now safe to say that the indy ad network is the new black has jumped the shark but AdViking still believes there is more to come, e.g.: The major US leading verticals (i.e.:, and should band together to create something very powerful.
  • Like, quadrantONE, the ad network created by newspaper co’s: Gannett Co., Hearst Corp., the New York Times Co. and Tribune Co, this is cool because we’re finally seeing traditional publishers start making some serious moves to protect their futures.

What doesn’t seem to be so great:

It appears that the network will only be for display advertising, which doesn’t really lend itself to a typical B2B advertiser. It is stated though that the hope with the network is to grow B2B spend, not just move it around. This might be possible but as the network will really be about bulking out the inventory to provide appealing packages to Agencies, the real opportunity is going for a 3rd party to be to come along and optimise the distressed inventory.

*Vertical Zoom

AdViking gets to have the unique opportunity of being able to focus on different verticals through participation in various events:

  • B2B – Speaking on Vertical Search at Magazine 2008
  • Classifieds – Facilitation of a workshop on Monetising Search at the ICMA General Meeting in Brussels
  • Local – Participation in the Local Search Summit in Oslo