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[mediarepublic] Viable models

Lisa Williams, who was great in the previous session on the world of media in 103 (which I didn’t blog because I’m so damn tired) is moderating a panel on “viable models.” [I’m live blogging, missing stuff, getting it wrong. I’m posting this before I’ve proofread it because I have to get to the next session. Reader beware.]

Mark Ranalli from Helium gives a quick talk about Helium, a site where people compete to create the highest-rated content on a topic. They share the money they make with the writers. Only peers can evaluate. They do head to head evaluations of two articles and use that to rank what may be dozens of articles on a topic. Helium also flogs its content to publishers in their “freelance marketplace.” And it integrates content into mainstream media. E.g., Boston Now invites readers to write articles and sends them to Helium. A PBS show uses Helium to run a weekly essay contest. [Ah PBS and its essay contests!]

John Sawyer from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting reports from tough areas. They create content and place it all over, from MSM to YouTube. All the reporters blog.

Doc Searls is talking about “a new business model for free media” (= VRM). Marketers have a split in their heads, he says, that allows them to talk about “targeting” consumers even though they themselves are members of markets too. We no longer have to be put into silos, as if we were owned by businesses. We need Vendor Relationship Management. “With VRM I can inquite and relate to markets on the fly.” Express global preferences without having to give all the same info. He’s willing to pay money to reach a human in under 60 seconds. We should be able to manage our own health care data.VRM’s first use case is paying for public media. VRM is introducing the “relbutton” which you can put anywhere you want; press it and you can remember the site and relate to the site in the way you want. It has four visible states: Intention to relate, an existing relationship, an existing relationship, or an intention to sell.

Q: Why isn’t this the same as a PayPal button?
Doc: Because that’s take it or leave it.
Q: Sites have lots of ways of interacting with viewers. What’s different here?
Doc: There’s no one way to interact with them. And they’re not under you’re control. Public radio’s tip system takes too long to pay.
Q: This is not a micropayment system…
Joe Andrieu: It’s an invitation to relate in any number of ways. It’s a generalized approach.
Q: is this supposed to replace the pledge system?
Doc: It’s not intended to replace them. But 90% don’t pledge, and everyone hates the pledge drives.
Q: So how does the RelButton generate money?
Doc: It’s uniform and efficient.

Q: Can you give an example of something that’s approached solving a problem in this way? Letting people take control of a transaction?
Doc: For transactions, no. It’s like an old-fashioned marketplace.
Joe: An example are the old proprietary email systems.

Q: Could you explain how Helium makes money?
A: 1. We have about 700,000 articles, attracting 3M visitors/month. Ad revenue, which we share with the writers. 2. We take part of the fees publishers pay our writers. And, no, we’re not profitable yet but we hope to be soon.

Why do people write for you?
Mark: Individuals building a portfolio. Non-profits have been sending people to us. I’ve stopped trying to guess why people write.

Lisa: You’ve all presented transactional models. That’s where many people are going, but they require huge volumes to work. How do you get to the volume you need?
Mark: Advertisers and publishers.
Doc: We’re not burdened by a business model…
Lisa: You still have to get users…
Doc: You make it available. A Firefox download, etc.
Q: Any partners integrating the button yet?
Doc: It’s a barn raising. A few dozen are highly active on a list. [Tags: ]

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