#54: Another phone-based advertising platform: Voicestar

I’m working backward through my day. It’s been quite a day with quite a diverse set of businesses crossing in front of me.

While I was hanging out in the cafeteria, Ari Jacoby, president of VoiceStar called me up. Remember Ingenio from the other day? Well, VoiceStar does a lot of that, but Ari claims his cost per signup is a lot cheaper. He also showed me features that I didn’t remember Ingenio showing me (things like you could record each incoming call).

Let me back up first. VoiceStar has an advertising platform. Let’s say you go to Yelp.com and search for Sushi in San Francisco, like this. See the ad at the top of the page? The one with the phone number? Well, if you called that number you would have kicked a few bucks over to the person/company that owns the Website you’re on.

Now, I don’t know how to validate their claims, but clearly these two companies are going to be interesting to watch as the online advertising world gets built out.

One place blogosphere is hypocritical: advertising

Remember last year when the blogosphere was up in arms about Marquis? Oh, if you weren’t around back then that company paid bloggers to write about its company. Some bloggers got paid almost $1000 to write about them. Seemed sleazy, right?

But no one complains about bloggers taking a similar deal from advertising companies like Google and Chitika.

The funny thing is that Marqui was giving 100% of its marketing dollars straight to bloggers without any intermediaries. Now they can buy the same kind of exposure by using an advertising system like Google, Chitika, Yahoo, but only a percentage of their dollar spent goes to the blogger. The rest goes to Google or Chitika or Yahoo or, soon, MSN.

One advantage to the AdSense model is that bloggers don’t need to change their editorial, although there is a subtle effect there too (if you write about topics, like Camcorders, that advertisers are more willing to pay for advertising for, you’ll make a lot more money, so if you’re in it for the money there’s a pressure to give the advertising networks what they want).

Anyway, I just noticed that the blogosphere looked very critically at the advertising Marquis was doing, but hasn’t looked critically at the other advertising that is now appearing on blogs (and will intensify over the next year — Google is even paying a referral fee for bloggers to get their blogging friends into using its advertising system).

Scott is confused by “Live”

Scott Hanselman, one of our best customers, is confused by Windows Live.

Shhh, Scott, don’t tell anyone, but this isn’t about just the portal. And if anyone at Microsoft thinks it is I’m gonna come and kick them in the rear.

It’s about a new advertising platform. It’s about giving users new services that can be docked on the live.com page or in other places. It’s about a new URL for search. Sorry, typing in http://search.msn.com was too confusing and convoluted. It’s a lot easier to say “go to live dot com.”

It’ll all make sense when the subdomains start popping in.

What opportunity is there for developers? Lots. See, you’ll be able to create a service box that’ll drive traffic back to your site or blog. Why would you do that? Well, on your blog you’ll have a monetization service that’ll give you a paycheck.

But, yes, they made this stuff too complicated. I see it clearly in my mind now. I’m going to get some videos now and make these teams simplify what they are trying to say.

We don’t know how to romance developers anymore (if we ever did). Sorry about that.

Oh, Joe Wilcox wrote a post about “what is live.”

Jeff’s eyes are bloodshot

Jeff Sandquist was just in my office and he’s wiped cause he and Adam Kinney shipped the Microsoft Gadget site last night.

It’s interesting that there are a TON of blogs about the new Live stuff. Just visit Memeorandum for a good list. Hey, I noticed a lot of you haven’t figured out there are some cool options in Memeorandum (click that “preferences” link in top right!!!)

Tim O’Reilly’s blog about the event got noticed here at Redmond. Why? Cause he said this: “The big takeaway: Microsoft is fully engaged with thinking about what I’ve called “Web 2.0.”” and this: “Overall, leaves me with a lot of optimism that Microsoft is fully engaged with the right problems, and we’ll be hearing a lot more from them.”

Tim is one of the main guys who is pushing the concept of “Web 2.0” so this is interesting that he sees Microsoft as a major player now.


I keep going back to that list of things I posted this morning. We need to nail those. AND we need to make a killer advertising platform.

Here’s some principles I’m going to be pushing for as this advertising platform gets built out:

 1) Share the attention data openly and transparently. Don’t be greedy, make that a key part of, and a differentiator of, our platform. Steve Gillmor’s Attention Trust is getting my attention. If that gets us to think about how to share our attention data, that’ll be huge. If we turn into greedy, evil, bahstahrds with your attention data, then we’ll lose a real opportunity to build something special here. I feel like I’m at Apple Computer back in 1988 or 89 and people were asking Apple to license the OS. In a few years it’ll be too late.

2) Give a clear, consistent, easy-to-understand, business model. I’m still struggling to understand what I’ll get by putting a new Windows Live service on my blog or business site, for instance. Will I get buzz? (That new Virtual Earth gadget looked pretty cool). Or, will I get money like Google’s AdSense pays? I’ll be pushing Gates to fund four “buzz components” for every “monetization component.” This is important to make the advertizing ecosystem work.

Anyway, I really like Niall Kennedy’s photos of the event. It’s going to be interesting to watch Microsoft change over the next few months.