Nate Westheimer: How Sites Like Silicon Alley Insider Can Make Big Money


Nothing like having a supportive community.  Alley entrepreneur and SAI contributor Nate Westheimer noticed that we’ve started running some AdSense ads (right, below, etc.) and immediately suggested alternative revenue models.   We’re already working on some of them, but we’re still grateful.  We also assume Nate’s ideas might be valuable to others in the online publishing business, so we’ve included several below. Thanks, Nate!  (You can read Nate’s full post on the newly redesigned Innonate).

[L]ast night [at the NY Tech Meetup] wasn’t the first time  Silicon Alley Insider‘s business model was pondered out loud. In early August, the nextNY community started publicly requesting that the publication use full RSS feeds rather than partial ones, which prompted a message on the listserv from CEO and Editor Henry Blodget. Here’s a section of that:

As an RSS reader myself, I just don’t object to clicking through to a site when the lede interests me–it is at most a minor inconvenience (nothing like having to pay a subscription fee, for example). As an editor/publisher, I was also scratching my head as to how sites are supposed to survive with not only no subscription fees or effective RSS advertising solutions but no visitors. I realise that this isn’t the readers’ problem, but it is mine.

Well, Mr. Blodget Henry, since you asked, and now that you’ve started to explore this issue by using AdSense, here are 3 ideas which could bring your new media company some revenue:

NY Tech Ad Network
Synthetic, vertical networks are where it’s at… because Jeremy Liew said so; and hyperlocal advertising is the way to get high CPMs… because USV says so. With tools out there as easy as Adify, there’s absolutely NO reason not to create a network of NY Tech sites and blogs, so that when a local company want to promote itself it has a channel to do so. Wouldn’t Sunshine Suites or some law firm pay to be on Insider, ThisisGoingtoBeBig, and centre Networks? Even Fred Wilson has huge NYC readership, and goodness knows he’ll add more ads to his blog, especially from a NY tech blog ad network. Heck (and this may be for a larger post) — I think that if Insider did this network, the Post, Crain’s, and other local papers would be wise to include their local tech pages. Why have those pages monetized from the same team selling Page Six ads when Insider is going out targeting local tech advertisers?

Conferences & Workshops
I’ve called the Insider the PaidContent for New York before, and if that’s the case, they should start planning some conferences. Well produced conferences can do great things for a media brand to solidify its relevance in a community, and, without a doubt, quality publications put on some of the best conferences because quality publications are more objective than any other possible party (less chance for payola for sure!). Here’s an idea for the first Insider organised conference: “Big Media, Little Tech: How big media incorporates start-up technology” (i.e. TIME/CNN and Sphere; Forbes and Clipmarks; WSJ and WordPress). As long they make the conferences cheap enough for start-ups to attend (make your money with sponsorships or something!), this could be a great way for Insider to firmly plant itself here and make some dough. And on the workshop side of things, Insider has a lot of experience on their team and clearly they want to help this community grow and survive. How great would some executive strategy workshops be? I would attend.

So, I want to hire a super high quality, New York-based, engineer. One day, I’ll want an excellent, New York-based COO. But where do I advertise for this? OK, this may be another Insider-as-PaidContent comparison, but I see a real opportunity to carve out a great niche in the classified space. Classifieds are flying out of print pages and on to the Internet, but Craigslist can’t capture all of it. Hitting a targeted, in-the-know audience, such as Insider’s is something worth paying for.

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