Search-Independent Businesses Webmaster-Entrepreneurs Can Start

Author: Gab Goldenberg

With Google preparing to monopolize online shopping, webmasters everywhere need to be asking themselves what businesses they can build independent of those odd entities we call search engines. Over the next few days/weeks, I will share some back-of-the-envelope business models I’ve considered but not implemented for lack of time. Today I’m going to share a Facebook app idea adapted from Lucas Ng’s original take.

Facebook Knowledge Repository + Search + Merchants and Affiliates Buying Space = The Motherlode

Inspired by Lucas Ng’s post on how Facebook could Kill Hurt Tickle Facebook (scroll down), I derived an idea for a Facebook app that would roll knols, AdWords and CPA deals into one.

The idea is just this: Have users create content. Get them to do this by paying them. Get the money for that creative work from merchants and affiliates who’ll get the rights to monetize said page of content. Make that content restricted to users logged in to Facebook (e.g. not available to GYM). Let people search that content. Serve ads on the search results.

Lucas’ core point is that Facebook has a huge userbase using its’ site regularly, and creating content. All of which is behind a barrier that Googlebot can’t cross.

By having users create content that would be then bought by sponsors based on quality, Facebook could rapidly create a destination within its site for high quality material. Users would write, and those articles deemed good enough would be purchased by merchants; the purchase would give them rights to monetize it with their own banners, links etc.

Users could then search within Facebook to find content. One way amongst many to power the results would be to use the relationships that people have told Facebook about (e.g. I worked with this person; he/she is my sibling etc.) for the creation of a “closeness”-based recommendation algorithm.

Recommendations of articles by people closer to you would rank higher. Intuitively, this should make be effective since those closest to us are most likely to know what interests us.

The recommendations themselves might need to be incentivized to get the ball rolling, but once the momentum is there, it could get done by people for free. As Dan Zarella’s research shows – one reason people share so that friends don’t miss out.

Lucas saw this as a search-focused and Yahoo-Answers-type-content based service. I see this more as something where users could sell all forms of content, like articles, video etc. Merchants could feature themselves in a desirable way alongside it or integrated post-creation. Facebook could monetize through search.

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Comments

  1. "Users would write, and those articles deemed good enough would be purchased by merchants; the purchase would give them rights to monetize it with their own banners, links etc." So the merchant would then own the rights to the content or would Facebook own them?

    Comment by Will - October 21, 2008 @ 9:39am

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