Flipping: Houses out, websites in

There was an interesting article this past week in the New Times technology section on the practice of flipping web sites. It works pretty much like flipping a house. First, you find a web site that has been around while and has decent search engine ranking and a base level of visitor because of its longevity. Then you buy it for a couple of thousand dollars, give it a modern look and feel, add some social networking features to build a community and focus on SEO. After a few months to a year the traffic increases greatly, the page rank pulls it into the top five to ten and you sale it for around 10 times the price you paid for it.

Flipping a web site sound like a great idea, but I’m wondering how many times someone buys a site they can’t turn around and sell. I think you have to be pretty picky about the sites you buy and have a marketing plan with almost a specific buyer in mind when you sell it.

Stop the shovelware!

Since I wielded the shovel quiet a few years ago, I haven’t understood why a newspaper hasn’t stood up and said online news is a different business from print newspaper and shouldn’t require us shoveling the entire print contents on to the web site early every morning. Well, Howard Owen has said it in an effort to change the culture of the newsroom and he didn’t say it to try to save the print circulation). Then, he describes how a newspaper would like without the shovelware. My favorite points include…

  1. A continuous flow of news.
  2. Lots of opportunities for user participation and contribution resulting in being a part of the flow of the conversation, not the whole conversation.
  3. Video (and other multimedia, but primarily video), and lots of it.
  4. Lots of utility pieces, such as calendars, movie listings, and strong advertising tie-ins for classifieds and internet yellow pages.
  5. Lots of databases. If it’s data, and it’s relevant to our community and we can make it searchable and/or sortable, we should have it on our web sites.
  6. We should also make sure our articles, our videos, our databases — pretty much everything on our web sites — is easy to share (RSS everything).

Wouldn’t that be a fun newspaper to read and a fun newspaper to work for?

Culture creator: Monk and Snoop Dogg

Becoming a good media practitioner (whether in journalism, public relations or advertising) you need to have a good understanding of pop-culture and your audience.

A few years ago my father introduced me to the USA Network program Monk. I think it’s a funny show and watch all the new episodes every summer, but my dad thinks it the best show on TV and watches it whenever it’s on. Tonight’s episode of Monk featured rapper Snoop Dogg as the special guest star. Snoop appeared throughout the show and even rewrote/rapped the show’s theme song. To me any show that is my dad’s favorite featuring a rapper is a culture clash, but I think this is a good example of the way our culture is created by mashing up diverse segments and opinions.

One of the results of the Internet and the Long Tail is the narrow segmentation of interests, markets and values. The mass media has always built mass culture between diverse interests, but the influence of the Internet is turning the mass media into the narrow interests. As web 2.0 blossoms, the convergence of ideas, cultures and opinions will move from the mass media to the individual mash-ups. People will find those mash-ups, be introduced to new ideas with referrals from their friends– online virtual friends who they trust.

MLB at odds with media again

The MLB is at odds with the media again in it’s debate over whether or not it can own the facts of the game. This time is a bit more interesting because they are mad at ESPN– the cable channel that helps sustain baseball as everything else is letting them down. ESPN ran a graphic of the MLB All-star players on SportsCenter with information obtained from the AP during the MLB imposed embargo period for this information. MLB had embargoed the information because they sold exclusive rights to the information to TBS for a live selection show. In this case, MLB is not suing ESPN (because they don’t have a cause), but it has decided that it is going to shut ESPN out of all all-star game coverage to teach them a lesson.

Let’s review for the MLB’s sake. Information such as the player’s on a roster, their number, batting average, ERA and game stats and scores are all just information that is not able to be owned by anyone. MLB is allowed to act like my toddler and not let ESPN play at the all-star game for not following their rules, but they aren’t allowed to sue over someone else using their information.