I was selected as a celebrity spokesmodel by Techdirt for their Insight Community. They put me–as part of a group–on the cover of their brochure for the Insight Community. I always knew I had a voice made for blogging but seeing the picture made me realize that I was born with a face made for podcasting
Born with a Face Made for Podcasting
I stopped by their booth pedestal in the exhibit area and was surprised to see that I had been selected as a spokesmodel for their new service as I have only been blogging on business topics for two weeks. And yet there I was in the picture on the front cover of their brochure.
Mike assured me that I would be in the “Special Highly Interactive Techdirt” section of the community. I was taken aback because my mother had always assured me that I had a face for podcasting and I assumed that it was there I would ultimately be able to make my mark. It wasn’t until I was in the bar a little later drinking some ice tea, imported from Long Island of all places, that I was able to summon my marketing imagination and jot down captions that Techdirt should consider adding to the flyer when they exit beta. I put them in an e-mail to Mike and then realized I should share them with the four of you reading this blog:
|Techdirt Version||SKMurphy Version|
|Take part in interesting discussions with your peers||“Maybe if this guy had written this monologue in a blog we might have had the last 30 minutes of our lives back.”|
|Interact with companies who want your opinion||“Is this you, holding forth to a roomful of three people on an arcane topic? If so, you can join our blogging network and double your audience.”|
|Get paid for your insight||“Ever feel like the guy at the whiteboard isn’t really capturing the depth and breadth of your insights? Our blogging network allows you to capture and expose all of your thoughts on a topic.”|
Anne Zelenka – Analysis Marketplaces: It’s Not About Cheaper
The announcement of TechDirt’s Insight Community shows the possibilities for eBay-like technology analysis marketplaces. TechDirt’s offering gathers together a group of curated bloggers who offer anonymous responses to companies that want feedback on specific issues. The companies as well remain anonymous, in a double blind setup that protects competitive intelligence and the blogger’s reputation at the same time.
Bloggers are to be paid just $50 to $100 per response, which seems extremely low if they want to offer truly valuable analysis from bloggers and analysts with deep expertise and knowledge. It takes time to research and put together valuable intelligence and insight and it takes a base level of understanding that only comes from long-term dedication to a field. People with those qualifications are likely to have other opportunities to make money, opportunities that make $50 to $100 for an entire blog post look like cat food.
The point of creating an analysis marketplace is to get long term advantage. Over time, inefficiencies will be squeezed out and the overall price that companies pay for the analysis they need may turn out to be lower. Or it may be higher, if they find that with a better market structure it makes sense to allocate more money to buying outside expertise.
Those who want to create free marketplaces in information, research, and analysis ought to consider how they can improve the market structure to offer better value to buyers. For example:
- Pay according to how buyers rate the intelligence. Provide a number of responses to the buyer for their particular question. Let them rank the responses. The highest rated feedback is paid the most, the lowest the least, or maybe not paid anything at all.
- Keep a record of ratings of analysts and filter that back into how much companies pay for feedback. Let them request the highest rated analysts, for a fee.
- Let buyers request analysts they’ve used before or those recommended by a colleague. Referral requests should improve the analyst’s overall value rating.
- Consider how the marketplace could auction off the analysis of sellers. This way you could attract analysts who provide extremely useful feedback by paying them enough to get them to look away from their other opportunities.
Your offering is not a real marketplace unless you let the market set the price. The way TechDirt is arranging it looks suspiciously like they want to keep big money for themselves and pass on just token amounts to those providing the real value. You can’t build a marketplace by choking those who provide the value in it.
UPDATE: Mike Masnick of Techdirt clarifies some aspects of his analysis marketplace in a comment on my post. Notably, the analyst-bloggers get to set their price.
Anne Zelenka in “Analysis Marketplaces, It’s Not About Cheaper“
Mike offered some clarifications on the program and it’s structure in the comments in response to some speculation by Anne Zelenka.
I’m CEO of Techdirt and just wanted to clear up some of the issues raised by your post. Kevin was wrong in stating that bloggers simply get $50 to $100. As you suggest, it is a market place. The bloggers get to set their own prices. Kevin had asked what the typical price was — and so far, $50 to $100 seems to be the range that people are choosing. And, based on that, I should say that I 100% disagree with you that at $100 you don’t get “in-depth research or considered opinion.” You’d be amazed at the level of analysis and opinion the bloggers in the program have already been giving.
Also, almost all of the feature suggestions that you make are already in the program, or are on the roadmap to be added soon (your first point, of ordering the responses to determine payments, is on the roadmap — all the other features are already available).
As for the anonymity issue, that’s only one aspect of the service, and came from specific discussions with both bloggers and our existing customers. There are a ton of advantages in having the anonymity — from more honest analysis, to actually responding to the issue rather than the company (i.e, telling a company what they want to hear as opposed to what they need to hear). However, again, that’s only one aspect of the service, and some of the offerings will allow discussions without anonymity in place. It all depends on what the bloggers and the companies need for the particular issue they’re raising.
Finally, the focus is very much on better value for your dollars, not “cheaper.” In the beta tests we’ve been running, that’s exactly what we’ve found. The companies (multi-billion dollar ones) that have been using the service feel they’re getting a lot more value in seeing multiple different perspectives and analysis (including discussions *among* and *between* the various bloggers) than just talking to “the wise man on the hill” at some analyst or consulting firm.
If you have any more questions about the service, please feel free to ask me.
Mike Masnick in a comment left on “Analysis Marketplaces, It’s Not About Cheaper“
Details as they are stored in some post-Apocalyptic reliquary whose display case for the 20th century might house a fist sized chunk of the Berlin Wall, a charred fragment from Skylab, and the test tube that contains Edison’s last breath.
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- Improving The Techdirt Insight Community (2008) I have reluctantly concluded that community is the wrong word for Techdirt Insight effort. The mechanisms established to make clear who owns each individual insight work against again real collaboration or shared contribution. It’s become a rolling essay contest more than a blogging community, which probably better suits Techdirt’s business needs but it’s not the reason I joined. I have appreciated the opportunity to take part and contribute.
Net Net: I have asked Techdirt to delete my account and donate the $18 credit I have earned from my contributions to the Salvation Army. At it’s root the Insight Community is a zero sum game, and this mechanism works against collaboration and community building.
Image Credit: Techdirt (since they did not get my permission to use my picture I figure I can us the photograph without their permission). I am the guy gesturing at the whiteboard turned in profile.