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Archive for the ‘Niche’ Category

Year-out forum finds a gap in the market

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Case study by Tim Dawson.

Specialist social media sites have substantially replaced niche magazines and directories as a source of information in dozens of interest areas.  The largest – like mumsnet.com and the Army Rumour Service – are said to sway elections and to have forced the closure of The News Of The World.  Hundreds of less well-known forums link enthusiasts of every imaginable hobby and interest.

Gapyear.com is a middle-ranking player in this league.  With registered followers in the tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands claimed by mumsnet and around 100,000 unique visitors each month (according to Alexa.com) it aims to provide information and advice for those considering a year out.

“We add value to the site with specialist news and by providing a supportive environment for people who want to write, but in lots of ways we are no different to the specialist magazines of the past”, says Tim Fenton, the site’s general manager.  “A magazine devoted to a car marque, for example, depended on a strong letters page.  Specialised social media are simply able to concentrate on smaller areas of interest and they have a longer tail”.

Content within the site is organised into three distinct strands.  Some is produced in-house by experienced journalists or specialist writers – such as advice on avoiding malaria or gap-year insurance.  The forums themselves, where intending travellers swap know-how and ideas, are entirely user-generated and unedited (save when deemed to be inappropriate).

Sitting between these is ‘managed user-generated content’ – which is soon to be relaunched as the Gapyear Writers Academy.  Users of the site are invited to submit on subjects of the site editors’ choosing.  Guidance on writing techniques is available, subbing is provided after submission and it is published to fixed URLs.  “Some will be ‘my story’ type pieces, others will be more ‘how-to’ and it is intended to provide quality information for readers and a beneficial experience for contributors”, says Fenton.  This strand is expected to be extended to photographs and videos in the near future – although none of the contributors will be paid.

Gapyear.com was established in 1997 by entrepreneurs Tom Griffiths and Peter Pedrick while in their 20s.  In the Autumn of 2010 they sold their interest to the Australian travel agency, Flight Centre (it has around 50,000 staff and is expecting to deliver profits before tax of nearly A$250m in the year to June). 

Flight Centre is investing in a significantly enhanced Gapyear.com site, to be launched this August.  Ipswich-based Gapyear.com has ten permanent staff whose ongoing costs are largely funded by the proceeds of banner advertising on the site.  Fenton, who is a former BBC political correspondent and managing editor of BBC News Online, joined the company earlier this year, believes there is scope to substantially increase the ad revenue.

“The strength of Gapyear.com is its strong URL and its long history – which make a dramatic difference in search-engine rankings”, says Fenton.  “We are the top ranked site on Google for lots of strings, such as ‘gap year’, ‘travel mate’ and ‘holiday rep’.  To that we add robust, transparent content that delivers something of real value to those who join up”.

Google ranking and active members appear to be Fenton’s key metrics.  He hopes to increase these by diversifying further into the mid-career and career-end gap years, as well as extending the site’s appeal to the United States (where the term ‘gap year’ does not have the specific meaning that it does in Commonwealth countries).

Like other forum-based sites, however, he faces some potent challenges.  The most obvious is of interest migrating away to any of the dozens of other sites that facilitate conversation between intending gap year travellers – from ones run by national newspapers to those operate by airlines.  Typical gap year takers spend 18 months saving for and planning their trip, which provides a relatively short time slot to engage their attention.  

If Fenton’s strategy of journalistic integrity and guided self-improvement works, of course, today’s youngsters might rejoin his site when they have earned their mid-career sabbaticals.

Written by Tim Dawson

July 20th, 2011 at 4:48 am

Posted in Niche

Like a phoenix from liquidation – mag experiments with partnership model

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Case study by Alex Klaushofer.

When the numbers fail to add up, the publishers of most small magazines take the simple, expeditious step of simply folding the thing. But when weekly regeneration magazine New Start was deemed no longer viable, it embarked on a new direction which could point the way for other, similar publications.

The magazine, launched in 1999 when public sector journalism was burgeoning, quickly carved out a niche for itself among its professional, policy-oriented readership. Being small, it was sufficiently fleet-of-foot to move from London to Sheffield in 2002 and – when the going got really tough – to relaunch as a monthly at the beginning of 2009.

But by October 2010 the costs of print and distribution had finally become prohibitive, and New Start Publishing Ltd went into liquidation. Yet instead of disappearing, the title was acquired by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), a think tank based in Manchester.

The thinking behind the take-over was that, with both parties sharing a common audience and values, each would benefit from joining forces. A model was evolved which combined affiliation to the organisation with subscription to the magazine, and CLES membership and New Start subscriptions became part of a single package, with readers-members simultaneously sold a magazine, a platform for debate, and access to research, training and consultancy.

At the same time, the move cut editorial costs, since the magazine – which had lost its freelance budget and now had only two members of staff – was able to source much of its copy from non-journalist experts working elsewhere in the organisation.

With the last print edition appearing in October 2010, the magazine is now entirely online. A website offers a mix of free and paywall content, while a designed e-zine is sent to subscribers once a month. The dual online format presents a novel version of the print-versus-digital dilemma that has exercised magazine publishers in recent years, potentially pitting two rivalrous forms of e-publication – a news website and a monthly e-zine – against each other.

According to New Start’s editor Austin Macauley, the speed of web publication makes the conclusion obvious. ‘My view is that if copy is good to go and you have a website at your disposal, it should be published at the earliest opportunity,’ he says. ‘Perhaps more importantly, the web allows readers to respond immediately with their observations and hence we have a comment facility on all articles. We want to create a ‘community’ out of our membership.’

He insists that the magazine’s reliance on editorial from non-journalists compromise the quality of the journalism: ‘The New Start/CLES model is unusual – bringing together journalists and an established title with a team of researchers and consultants who are creating new material all the time,’ he says. ‘People are thinking more and more journalistically about their work,’ he says. ‘We’ve got to get the right balance; we’re not just a mouthpiece. We were bullish about that from the start.’

The coverage continues to come from a variety of quarters, including the think tank’s direct competitiors, he adds.

Of course, as a magazine published by an organisation with which it shares common ground, the New Start model is hardly new. But what makes its experiment interesting is the way it knowingly combines a common-sense alliance with the diversification characteristic of the successful new business models emerging in the digital age, by offering readers range of services all centering on a relationship with the brand.

But, even with costs cannily reduced in this way, will the money stack up sufficiently to keep the magazine in circulation for another decade? One suspects from Macauley’s response that the answer is in the future workings of the corporate psyche. ‘The view of CLES is that it has to be sustainable by itself,’ he says, adding: ‘In reality it’s not just about whether we covers our costs with subscriptions, it’s more that we add value and give them the edge in marketing initiatives.’

The switch from print to digital lost the magazine very few readers, and the magazine/think tank is now gaining new subscribers-members, so the future looks promising.

With the emergence of publications such as The Day, an online news service for schools and colleges sponsored by the likes of the Independent Schools Association, it’s possible that New Start is part of a developing trend of what could be called sponsored or partnership journalism.

Written by Alex

June 27th, 2011 at 5:35 am

New pay-what-you-want mag shows appetite for longform journalism

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Case study by Alex Klaushofer.

This week sees the dropping onto doormats of Issue One of The Blizzard – a quality, quarterly football magazine offered to readers on a pay-what-you-like basis.

The digital edition of the magazine came out on Thursday in a launch timed to come ahead of the Champions League Final at the weekend. Founded by sports writers disenchanted with the superficial, sensationalist coverage of football, the digital-print publication showcases long-form articles on the beautiful game, and is aimed at ‘the thinking fan’.

According to editor and co-owner Jonathan Wilson, the initial plan was to publish a print-only magazine. But the idea of producing a PDF version for advertising purposes morphed into a combined digital and print publication for which subscribers would pay what they thought it was worth, either on a regular or one-off basis.

Issue Zero, launched in March this year, went unexpectedly into profit, selling almost 8000 downloads. ‘I tweeted once. We had no advertising at all,’ says a surprised-sounding Wilson.

But anyone getting carried away with the idea that a single tweet can launch a thousand mags would do well to reflect on the constituents of The Blizzard’s success. As football correspondent for the Guardian, Wilson has over 17,000 followers on Twitter, all of whom make up the target market for a magazine on the sport.

The collective of contributors who writes for the Blizzard form a stellar cast of sports journalists, bringing names with brand-recognition to a niche-readership.

Nonetheless, The Blizzard’s early success demonstrates that, if get the product and readership right, there is categorically an appetite for in-depth journalism. The print edition of the magazine – described by Wilson as ‘almost Victorian’ in its presentation – is unashamedly text-centric, and features articles up to 13,000 words long.

‘The idea of The Blizzard isn’t that you would skim through it on the bus, but that you sit down and read it with a cup of coffee or glass of wine,’ says Wilson. ‘It occupies that middle ground between a magazine and a book.’

‘Would people be prepared to read that much on screen?’ he adds rhetorically. ‘It appears that they are, which came as a slight surprise to me.’

With sales already ahead of the curve the owners had initially envisaged – they anticipated making nothing in Year One – the future of the magazine looks sustainable. It may even turn out to be fairly right-on in the way it treats its writers, as it has pledged to pay everyone a share of the profits.

‘At the moment nobody’s making a fortune,’ says Wilson. ‘But in the long term we’ll hopefully be paying above the market rate, and at least not too far below.’

Written by Alex

May 30th, 2011 at 5:43 am

Want to profit from internet journalism? Here are three golden rules

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In Practice by Tim Dawson.

For the past six months, I have been teaching a course entitled Making Internet Journalism Pay.  After the last session that I delivered, I received some of the most complimentary notes of thanks of my professional career – and they came from over half the people taking the course.  It makes me think that I must have got something right.

It is a full day’s course, of practical instruction and looking at successful self-publishing examples in some detail.  There are, however, a few simple principles that I thought might be worth sharing here.  So, for the benefit of those of you who are unable to spend a day in a training suite in central London, here are my three top tips.

If you are relying on advertising for revenue, then there must be a close fit between content and purchasing decisions.

As many people know, it is childishly simple to add Google ads, or other affiliate advertising to a website.  However, unless readers are either drawn to the website in spectacular numbers, or there is a close connection between what you are writing about and imminent outlays of cash – the publisher will make almost nothing.

Sites that cover tech developments, for example, are generally read by people who like to buy tech.  If the stories are surrounded by attractive retail propositions, then at least some are likely to respond. 

By contrast, a website devoted to the history of medieval churches in Suffolk might be a work of brilliant scholarship that introduces a whole new world to knapped flintwork and the perpendicular tradition.  It is unlikely, however to make a bean from advertising, unless the publisher can think of some common buying interests shared by their readership.

Devoted as most journalists are to the brilliance of their stories, unless they give a little consideration to the web audience that they are able to deliver to advertisers, they will be giving their expertise away for free.

For a web site to fulfil its potential, at least as much time and resources must be devoted to promotion as to the editorial package

This is a nostrum that is as true today, as it was in the days when the press was king.  Journalists, by professional inclination, love the product but hate acting as salespeople.  Deep within them lies the belief that a brilliant product will sell itself. 

There is no better demonstration of this that Beehive City.  The media site bumped along, being read by friends and those who accidentally alighted upon their stories – until they adopted a programme of highly active promotion.  They have spilled the beans about just how they did it here.

If you want to make a living from self-published internet journalism, you need to develop a brand that can deliver multiple income streams

Advertising and subscriptions are grand – but both are vulnerable to factors wholly beyond your control.  The more ways that you can exploit your content and the brand that it creates, the more secure you will be. 

Those streams might be enormously diverse, from Guido Fawkes selling his best stories to the tabloids, to Indus Delta organising conferences for which readers pay to attend.  Some sites sell merchandise, others package premium content into pay-for products. Unless you are willing sweat your work for all that its worth, your sweat will be worth very little.

There endeth my moment as Samuel Smiles.  Suffice to say, if I were much good at taking my own advice, I would have retired to the Bahamas years ago.

Written by Tim Dawson

April 18th, 2011 at 1:37 am

Foundation funding reveals murky world of farm subsidies

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Case study by Tim Dawson.

Michael Heseltine always enjoyed being considered one of the ‘big beasts’ of British politics.  Less well known, until recently, is that he has long been a recipient of around £90,000 of annual funding from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).  Lord Hesseltine, who founded the magazine company Haymarket, is thought to be worth around £200m, farms around 1,255 acres in Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.  

That it is possible to find out about these payments – and those to other farmers all over Europe – is thanks to farmsubsidy.org, one of the few examples of successful foundation-funded journalism outside the United States.  For the past six years it has been publishing details of where the European Union’s €55 billion farm subsidy budget is spent. A parallel project, run under the unberella of EU Transparancyfishsubsidy.org does the same for the €6 billion Common Fisheries Policy.

Since its establishment, farmsubsidy.org has received approximately $800,000 from foundations, the largest portion of which has come from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  This has been used to pay a small team of journalists, researchers and website authors in countries around Europe to fund freedom of information requests, and to develop the website on which details of farm funding are published.

The initiative is the brainchild of Jack Thurston, a former special advisor in the British Ministry of Agriculture and Nils Mulvad a Danish journalist.  Inspired by the US Environmental Working Group, Thurston wrote a pamphlet in 2002 suggesting that the recipients of CAP funding should be made public.  This led to a Fellowship with German Marshall Foundation, during which time Thurston made a successful FoI request for the British subsidy data.

“Around that time I convened a meeting at the offices of the German Marshall Fund”, he explains.  “We realised that few media organisations had the time or resources to do this kind of FoI work or to analyse such big data sets.  The Danes were a bit ahead of me, but we agreed to work together to establish a network to help journalists and researchers make effective requests for the data and to provide a publication platform.”

Since then FoI requests around Europe now mean that nearly every territory is covered, and the organisation’s easy-to-use online website makes it simple to find out who has received what. 

With the raw data on tap, farmsubsidy.org has also worked with journalists from the traditional media to make sense of the great gush of information.  In the UK this has produced a steady steam of stories about subsides paid to the well-known and the well-heeled like Heseltine.  In the US, reports on the Washington Post and the New York Times – and here and here – have undertaken significantly more radical work on how US agricultural multinationals have moved into east European farming – in part, with funds provided by the EU.

farmsubsidy.org makes it clear that while it is in favour of transparency, it does not adopt a particular stance on the desirability of particular funding decisions. “We do have to operate a kind of Chinese wall between data provision and more work that is more policy-based,” says Thurston.

He attributes the organisation’s success in fundraising to a pre-existing relationship with the main funders. “I sense that foundations fund people as much as they fund projects – which could be the worst kind of old-boys network – but it has meant for us that we have not had to devote all our time to chasing funds … It has made a difference having funders who trusted us for a few years.”  Although there are some foundations that will fund journalism in Europe, there are far fewer than in the US, he adds.

But despite its success, the future of farmsubsidy.org is in doubt.  Last November, a group of German farmers took a case to the European Court of Justice which ruled that publishing the names and addresses of CAP payment recipients breached the farmer’s privacy. 

Thurston believes that the judgement can be overturned, but even if the ruling stands, Thurston and his colleagues have directed a considerably shaft of light in the hitherto murky world of EU agricultural subsides, and shown that foundation-funded journalism can work in Europe.

Written by Tim Dawson

March 14th, 2011 at 2:27 am

Sail racing ‘app mag’ enters unchartered waters

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Catching the breeze: sailracing

Sail racing is possibly the first ‘back bedroom’ iPad magazine to launch – and to judge by the initial response, it looks set to blaze a trail. 

Established and self-financed by  Justin Chisholm for ‘around £10,000’, its target was to reach 10,000 views and downloads by the first week in February.  It passed that milestone nearly a fortnight ahead of schedule and, says Chisholm, the response from advertisers has been ‘very enthusiastic’.

Chisholm has been a well-established freelance journalist working for sailing titles for eight or nine years.  In recent times he has run the website offshorerules.com

“There are lots and lots of sailing websites”, he explains.  “I aimed to get beyond the regurgitated press releases that are the staple of most of them.  Offshorerules is good, but I realised that I could spend another decade working on it and I might not be generating enough page views or advertising revenue to it to make it really worth while”.  

Inspired by The Times’ success charging for apps, he decided to change tack.

The app development was undertaken by Yudu.com for somewhat less than Chisholm’s overall launch costs, and the magazine is designed Andrew Mays.  Each edition is created as a pdf, and supplied to Yudu, which converts it into the app and manages the relationship with iStore.

The first edition is free to view on a browser, iPhone or iPad, thereafter the magazine will cost £3.99 an edition.  “Initially I intend to sell single editions – until we build up enough audience and trust to sell subscriptions.  Registering for the app means that we have readers’ details so we can push a message to readers each time a new edition is available.  Apple takes 30% of the cover price.

The 79-page magazine looks a lot more like a printed magazine than websites generally do – and a very slick, professional product it is too.  Hyperlinks, slide shows, audio files and video (particularly on the iPad edition) enhance the package.  Chisholm has assembled some of the biggest names in sailing journalism, who he is paying, per article, as any other magazine would.  It also benefits from serving a sport that has both a globally audience and advertisers that market their goods around the world. 

To date, Chisholm reports, the response has been overwhelming, with over 1,000 downloads a week.  He accepts that competitors are unlikely to be slow to respond – but at his current rate of growth he might well be hard to catch once there are others jostling for attention in the iStore.

Written by Tim Dawson

January 20th, 2011 at 9:48 am

New magazine aims to cash in on Good Life

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Photo by Max (Flickr)

Amid the endless tales of failing titles, the launch of a new monthly suggests the traditional model for magazine publication may be alive and, er, laying.

Your Chickens, which goes on sale tomorrow in newsagents and supermarkets across Britain, aims to find a market among the 500,000 people who keep hens in their back gardens.

Publishers Archant South West decided to launch the title when readers of their successful magazine Country Smallholding indicated there was a demand for something more specialised.

‘Over the last twelve months we’ve been getting more and more enquiries from people keeping chickens in their back garden. It was very difficult to cater for them in Country Smallholding,’ Anna Atkinson told NMJ.

Your Chickens, which will have a print run of 25,000, will offer readers tips from celebrity hen keepers, advice from poultry experts and pieces for children.

Archant is sticking to the traditional business model, and plans to draw a maximum of 35% of its revenue from advertising and the rest from its cover price. ‘We have no doubt in our minds that it will work,’ said Atkinson.

If it does, Your Chickens may be further evidence that at least part of the future of journalism is niche.

Written by Alex

January 12th, 2011 at 7:29 am

James ‘pay nowt’ Brown: saviour or saboteur?

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Sabotage Times, James Brown’s latest venture aims to be an online showcase for new writing talent.  Aspiring journalists give their material to the site for nothing, and, so the plan goes, gain attention and lustre from being published by the founder of Loaded and former editor of GQ.  The 200 or so contributors only receive payment if their material is syndicated elsewhere.

The site’s content is the mens’ mags staples of television, film, music, football, celebrity, travel and lifestyle.  By virtue of being on the web, the content is generally more immediate, but slighter than much of its printed kin.

Brown, whose Jack magazine lasted just two years and who has since been undertaking media consultancy,  launched the venture with £30,000 of his own money.  He runs it with a deputy, Matt Weiner, formerly of FourFourTwo, and has no office.  There a couple of big name backers, but Brown has, to date, declined to name them.

The idea came to Brown when he realised that there was a wealth of writing talent pouring its efforts into blogs and Twitter feeds who risked going unnoticed.  By pulling them together, and publishing some of his old running mates like Irvine Welsh, as well as his own musings, Brown reasoned that he could create a destination website.  Today the site claims around 85,000 unique visitors a month.

Whether the deal works for contributors is harder to fathom.  Brown says that more than 140 articles have now been syndicated.  One or two Sabotage Times writers have been spotted and snapped up by established media – one for example is now working for Heat.

Lucy Sweet – one of Sabotage Times top-six contributors – is a respected journalist based in Glasgow.  After 15 years of successful freelancing, she was hit by the downturn in print, and care duties for a young child.  She found Sabotage Times via Twitter, liked their ‘fresh and anarchic attitude’, and sent them a link to her blog.

“I wrote them a piece for Sabotage Times about my secret grubby love of cheap celeb magazines,” she says. “I got tons of comments and tweets about it, from Sabotage Times readers to magazine editors and established journalists. Even Jonathan Ross read it and liked it.”

Sweet generally initiates ideas and is given free rein to write what she wants.   “If there’s something topical they want to run James or his deputy Matt will commission me – usually at the last minute. I’ve written reviews of the Apprentice and the X-Factor well into the night. But the response is always so immediate that I’ve become addicted to the attention! James and Matt are very supportive and I’ve (virtually) been introduced to a bunch of really funny, clever, up and coming writers like Russ Litten, Olivia Darling and Jo Fuertes-Knight. It’s been a very positive experience.”

Sweet has had nothing syndicated from the site, but has been approached by several editors as a result of her work on the site.  She wrote a column for the Guardian, covering for Ian Jack while he was on holiday, and has also had a commission from Glamour and one from a travel magazine about a five star hotel in Barbados. 

For Brown’s business to work, of course, he will need to syndicate a great deal more.  Only time will tell whether Sabotage Times is the next Loaded – or another Jack.

Written by Tim Dawson

January 6th, 2011 at 8:01 am

Hyperniche offers new model for journalism

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You could describe it as hyperniche. A news start-up providing in-depth reporting on disability issues, Disability News is already proving itself a viable model for quality journalism.

John Pring launched the subscription-funded news service for campaigning organisations in April 2009. A former staffer at Disability Now with ten years’ experience covering disability issues, he was frustrated by the lack of good reporting on the subject.

‘I saw there was a real lack of in-depth reporting on disability. There are many issues that affect disabled people that weren’t being reported on or covered in depth,’ he says, adding that mainstream media typically focus on lifestyle, comment, recycling news from press releases.

By contrast, Pring researches news stories from scratch, emailing them to subscribers every Friday. The campaigning organisations then use them on their websites and in magazines and newsletters, also circulating them internally to help staff keep up-to-date with developments affecting the sector. Pring waits three months before posting the stories on his own website, which serves as an archive-cum-showcase.

‘I focus on the reaction of disabled campaigners themselves to the stories that affect disabled people’s lives, and there’s no-one else out there doing that,’ he says. ‘My service is working because it’s high-quality journalism, serves a niche market and is dependable.’

The service gained a few subscribers almost immediately, but Pring admits that – despite having good contacts in the sector – he has found building the business tough going. ‘Nearly every subscriber took ten or twenty emails and phone calls – it took a lot of persistence,’ he says.

He now has what he describes as twenty ‘really good subscribers’, mostly smaller disability organisations run by disabled people themselves.

Eighteen months on, the business generates an income sufficient to provide a modest living. But Pring admits he needs to up his revenues if he is to survive in the longer-term, adding that the cuts in the not-for-profit sector have had a knock-on effect on his business: ‘I’m pretty sure if I’d started this in the financial climate of four years ago, I’d be doing pretty well’.

But with the numbers of subscribers growing each month, he’s sure there’s a niche for his branch of quality journalism, and sees scope for replicating his model in other areas of the equality sector.

Written by Alex

December 22nd, 2010 at 5:46 am

Advertising that puts publishers in control

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Journalists and website owners who expect the web to deliver them a living are set to be disappointed, warns entrepreneurial publishing pioneer Rick Waghorn.  However, by making use of his Addiply, advertisement placement system, they can offer a genuine service to their community and start to earn in a way that Google’s AdSense simply does not allow.

His system which is now used by over 160 micro publishers, as well as Guardian Media, Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror, is blissfully simple. It takes publishers 20 minutes or so to sign up for an account. Once this is in place, they can choose to sell banner ads, set a price based on CPM or click through. Publishers do then have to find their own advertisers, but Addiply pays 90% of the revenue generated to the publisher (Waghorn takes 7%, PayPal 3%).

The first adopter and biggest earner to date is Craig McGinty, publisher of thisfrenchlife.com, who has made around £2,500 over the past two years. Waghorn also mentions greenerleith.org as being among the more effective users of his service.

Waghorn’s trajectory is a familiar one. Around the time of his 40th birthday, he looked around the sports desk at the Norwich Evening News in 2006, where he worked. He saw waves of redundancies approaching. Since then he has unveiled a host of innovations to make money from online publishing. 

Myfootballwriter.com was his first venture – a news site devoted to Norwich City FC.  By the summer of 2007 he realised that 400,000 page impressions had delivered him just $130 from AdSense.

He first stated to add banner ads to his site. “Click through’s from the banner ads are very poor”, he concedes. “But advertisers – particularly small local businesses – understand them”.

A chance encounter with Ian Thurbon, or tipexchange.co.uk provided Waghorn with a technical expert who had already created his own advertisement-bid model. In late 2007, Addiply was taking shape (add to ads and multiply, is the basis for the name)and its Waghorn was sharing platform at a conference in New York with adservers such as BlogAds and OpenX.  “They both provide top-down solutions”, he says.  “If your numbers aren’t great, you won’t survive.  Addiply is a street level solution – it is a piece of kit that allows you to find advertisers in your own community.”

To date, Addiply is a tiny operation.  Five rounds of venture capitalists have come and gone without investing.  But recent successes with major publishers give Waghorn hope.  The Guardian now has Addiply on its three Beat Blogger sites (Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff – although at the time of writing only the Leeds version has paid-for ads in the slots).  “It you look at the Guardian Leeds pages, you will see ads that are making £18 a week for the paper, which I guarantee is more than the rest of the ads on that page” says Waghorn.

Whether expansion comes quickly, with investment, or organically, Waghorn has plenty more up his sleeve. He promises an affiliate system that will allow third parties to undertake the role of ad salesperson for third party sites. Publishers would still be able to block ads they didn’t like, and would probably only receive 65% of revenue – but they would not have to expend shoe leather making sales.

Dollar and Euro versions are also on the cards, as is a means of monetising Twitter feeds.

Written by Tim Dawson

October 19th, 2010 at 7:29 am