WINDY CITIZEN<br />How not to suck at online publishing and advertising<br />Brad Flora<br />@bradflora<br />@windycitizen...
Background<br /><ul><li>Founder, Windy Citizen.com
Prior: Princeton English (‘04), College admissions officer, Northwestern Journalism (’08)
Recently: Won 2010 Knight News Challenge
Find and pass along what’s hot in Chicago
Twitter: @windycitizen
Founded in May ‘08
Bootstrapped company based in Chicago
Niche social network, 10,000 registered users, 100,000 uniques/month</li></li></ul><li>Plan B<br /><ul><li>Place to share ...
Addressed single-threaded problem
Addressed point of view problem
The Year
Phase 1: The Routine
Phase 2: Ads
Phase 3: Sell, sell, sell</li></li></ul><li>What I did and learned in the last two years.<br />
Context<br /><ul><li>Current iteration not actually first idea
Not an engineer
No advertising spend
No investment capital
Semi-hostile environment (news organizations not interested in covering)
Mostly done by non-technical people with some guidance but no prior experience</li></li></ul><li>Environment: 2008<br /><u...
City blogs on the rise (Chicagoist, Gapers Block)
Dozens of young, underemployed writers
Seemed like a no-brainer</li></li></ul><li>Faulty Assumptions<br /><ul><li>Started with a pretty naive take on things
Traffic = Money
Content = Traffic
Journalism background gives me access to content
High quality content -> The Google -> Traffic -> ??? -> Profit!</li></li></ul><li>"I don't do local politics.  That ****'s...
Building a local audience is HARD<br />
Lessons Learned<br />
Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
If single point of failure, you’re doomed.</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br />Single-Threaded<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Average 20-something city dweller thinks:<br />"I don't do local politics.  Tha...
Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br />STRONG POV<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br />WEAK POV<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Average 20-something city dweller thinks:<br />"I don't do local politics.  Tha...
The Internet: Where sane people go to read and experience crazy things.<br />
Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
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How not to suck at online publishing and advertising

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A talk give at Social Dev Camp Chicago 2010 by Brad Flora http://twitter.com/bradflora

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How not to suck at online publishing and advertising

  1. 1. WINDY CITIZEN<br />How not to suck at online publishing and advertising<br />Brad Flora<br />@bradflora<br />@windycitizen<br />
  2. 2. Background<br /><ul><li>Founder, Windy Citizen.com
  3. 3. Prior: Princeton English (‘04), College admissions officer, Northwestern Journalism (’08)
  4. 4. Recently: Won 2010 Knight News Challenge
  5. 5. Find and pass along what’s hot in Chicago
  6. 6. Twitter: @windycitizen
  7. 7. Founded in May ‘08
  8. 8. Bootstrapped company based in Chicago
  9. 9. Niche social network, 10,000 registered users, 100,000 uniques/month</li></li></ul><li>Plan B<br /><ul><li>Place to share your favorite local links
  10. 10. Addressed single-threaded problem
  11. 11. Addressed point of view problem
  12. 12. The Year
  13. 13. Phase 1: The Routine
  14. 14. Phase 2: Ads
  15. 15. Phase 3: Sell, sell, sell</li></li></ul><li>What I did and learned in the last two years.<br />
  16. 16. Context<br /><ul><li>Current iteration not actually first idea
  17. 17. Not an engineer
  18. 18. No advertising spend
  19. 19. No investment capital
  20. 20. Semi-hostile environment (news organizations not interested in covering)
  21. 21. Mostly done by non-technical people with some guidance but no prior experience</li></li></ul><li>Environment: 2008<br /><ul><li>Tribune + Sun-times in bankruptcy
  22. 22. City blogs on the rise (Chicagoist, Gapers Block)
  23. 23. Dozens of young, underemployed writers
  24. 24. Seemed like a no-brainer</li></li></ul><li>Faulty Assumptions<br /><ul><li>Started with a pretty naive take on things
  25. 25. Traffic = Money
  26. 26. Content = Traffic
  27. 27. Journalism background gives me access to content
  28. 28. High quality content -> The Google -> Traffic -> ??? -> Profit!</li></li></ul><li>"I don't do local politics. That ****'s boring.“-My sister's cute friend (20-something Chicago-based consultant) <br />
  29. 29. Building a local audience is HARD<br />
  30. 30. Lessons Learned<br />
  31. 31. Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  32. 32. If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
  33. 33. If single point of failure, you’re doomed.</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  34. 34. If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
  35. 35. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br />Single-Threaded<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  36. 36. If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
  37. 37. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Average 20-something city dweller thinks:<br />"I don't do local politics. That ****'s boring. Have you heard of Groupon?“-My sister's cute friend (20-something Chicago-based consultant) <br />
  38. 38. Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  39. 39. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  40. 40. If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
  41. 41. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br />STRONG POV<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  42. 42. If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
  43. 43. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  44. 44. If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
  45. 45. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br />WEAK POV<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  46. 46. If 1:1 relationship between growth and your effort, you’re doomed.
  47. 47. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Average 20-something city dweller thinks:<br />"I don't do local politics. That ****'s boring. Have you heard of Groupon?“-My sister's cute friend (20-something Chicago-based consultant) <br />
  48. 48. The Internet: Where sane people go to read and experience crazy things.<br />
  49. 49. Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  50. 50. No Point of View = Death</li></li></ul><li>Lessons Learned<br /><ul><li>Single-Threaded = Death
  51. 51. No Point of View = Death
  52. 52. Make something people want</li></li></ul><li>Public Enemy #1: Journo-Think<br />Journalist-turned-entrepreneur thinks:<br />“Local public affairs reporting is important! <br />Therefore, there’s demand for it.”<br />
  53. 53. Average 20-something city dweller thinks:<br />"I don't do local politics. That ****'s boring. Have you heard of Groupon?“<br />
  54. 54. Average 20-something city dweller thinks:<br />"I don't do local politics. That ****'s boring. Have you heard of Groupon?“-My sister's cute friend (20-something Chicago-based consultant) <br />
  55. 55. Plan B<br /><ul><li>Place to share your favorite local links
  56. 56. Addressed single-threaded problem
  57. 57. Addressed point of view problem
  58. 58. The Year
  59. 59. Phase 1: The Routine
  60. 60. Phase 2: Ads
  61. 61. Phase 3: Sell, sell, sell</li></li></ul><li>"I don't do local politics. That ****'s boring.“-My sister's cute friend (20-something Chicago-based consultant) <br />
  62. 62. Plan B<br /><ul><li>Place to share your favorite local links
  63. 63. Addressed single-threaded problem
  64. 64. Addressed point of view problem
  65. 65. The Year
  66. 66. Phase 1: The Routine
  67. 67. Phase 2: Ads
  68. 68. Phase 3: Sell, sell, sell</li></li></ul><li>The Pivot<br />
  69. 69. Problem: Had to figure out how to make money. Wanted to sell ads.<br />
  70. 70. The Problem With Banner Ads<br /><ul><li>Learned early on that banner ads weren't going to work for Windy Citizen
  71. 71. Pricing is terrible
  72. 72. Audience too small to get into large ad networks that actually pay
  73. 73. Ad networks serve irrelevant ads
  74. 74. Needed to do direct sales, needed to have a product that would justify direct sales</li></li></ul><li>How do you add value to an ad?<br /><ul><li>Advertising friends: "Targeting!"
  75. 75. Another idea, what if you gave them more control over their ad creative?
  76. 76. People pay for convenience, not the actual product, what if that applied to an online ad?</li></li></ul><li>Real-Time Ads<br /><ul><li>Launched first one in September '09
  77. 77. Price it on a negotiated monthly basis rather than CPM
  78. 78. Improved the design
  79. 79. Numbers steadily improved</li></li></ul><li>Opportunity<br />
  80. 80. Knight News Challenge<br /><ul><li>Annual innovation challenge (http://newschallenge.org)
  81. 81. $5 million dollars to new ideas for the news industry
  82. 82. Funded Everyblock</li></li></ul><li>Knight News Challenge<br /><ul><li>A tortured history</li></li></ul><li>Knight News Challenge<br /><ul><li>A tortured history
  83. 83. 2008: Applied with Windy Citizen Idea (Cut in first round)</li></li></ul><li>Knight News Challenge<br /><ul><li>A tortured history
  84. 84. 2008: Applied with Windy Citizen Idea (Cut in first round)
  85. 85. 2009: Applied a year into Windy Citizen (Cut in final round)</li></li></ul><li>Knight News Challenge<br /><ul><li>A tortured history
  86. 86. 2008: Applied with Windy Citizen Idea (Cut in first round)
  87. 87. 2009: Applied a year into Windy Citizen (Cut in final round)
  88. 88. 2010: Applied with a business making (some) money…</li></li></ul><li>WINNER!<br />
  89. 89. NowSpots: New Company (!)<br /><ul><li>Providing real-time advertising tech to newspapers and other local publishers</li></ul>Going to save newspapers by giving them better, smarter tech.<br />
  90. 90. NowSpots: New Company<br /><ul><li>Providing real-time advertising tech to newspapers and other local publishers
  91. 91. Better prepared this time around
  92. 92. Able to draw on contacts made through WC to find first customers and build our founding team
  93. 93. Web: NowSpots.com
  94. 94. Twitter: @nowspots
  95. 95. Launching Fall 2010!</li></li></ul><li>Digging for gold -> Selling Shovels<br />
  96. 96. NowSpots.com<br /><ul><li>Web: NowSpots.com
  97. 97. Twitter: @nowspots
  98. 98. Launching Fall 2010!</li></ul>If you care about the future of newspapers, join our e-mail list.<br />
  99. 99. NowSpots: New Company<br /><ul><li>Providing real-time advertising tech to newspapers and other local publishers
  100. 100. Better prepared this time around
  101. 101. Able to draw on contacts made through WC to find first customers and build our founding team
  102. 102. Web: NowSpots.com
  103. 103. Twitter: @nowspots
  104. 104. Launching Fall 2010!</li></li></ul><li>Recap<br /><ul><li>Your first idea really does probably suck.
  105. 105. Single threaded doesn’t work.
  106. 106. You have to have a point of view.
  107. 107. If people aren’t reading and sharing your content, it’s probably because your stuff sucks.
  108. 108. The only thing worse than making these mistakes is chickening out for fear of making these mistakes.
  109. 109. While working on your less great ideas, you might come up with much better ones.</li></li></ul><li>Thank You!Questions?Contact me on Twitter:@bradfloraGet your Chicago fix:@windycitizenHelp save newspapers!@nowspots<br />

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