IAB Long Tail Alliance: A Plea from AskTheBuilder.com's Tim Carter
Thirty-seven years ago I was fresh out of college and had started my own residential renovation and construction company. The Internet may have existed back in 1974 in some crude form, but I didn’t see it for another twenty-one years just after I transitioned from day-to-day construction work to that of a syndicated newspaper columnist helping consumers discover the best products and techniques for their homes.
Fast forward to today, and I’ve witnessed the golden age of the print industry and its subsequent demise. The growth and speed of solving problems that the Internet offers was too much for an industry dependent on dead trees. That is, after all, one of the most basic reasons anyone uses the Internet - to solve a problem.
But many manufacturers and service providers have been dragging their feet with respect to directly investing in this fledgling industry that’s now really only fifteen years old with respect to actual commercial use of the Internet. For decades and decades manufacturers of products made massive investments in the print industry. This revenue source allowed them to staff up and be ready to get news out about products and innovations.
Ad networks have grown tremendously in the past decade allowing advertisers to reach consumers, but the ad buyers have overlooked websites that carry all the water. Very little direct ad buys have been made that allow website owners to grow and flourish.
Just two months ago I was at a press event hosted by DeWALT Tools in Baltimore, Maryland. One of their top product managers said to me as the event was coming to a close, “Tim, you probably realize that we’re depending more and more on websites like AsktheBuilder.com to get the word out to consumers.” After a brief back and forth in the conversation, I exclaimed, “Wow, I don’t know if that’s a wise thing to do as the ecosystem you’re depending on is very fragile and only one or two of my peer websites have more than one person producing content. Many websites are run by owners that only do it part time.”
The shock on the face of this businessman was profound. He told me he had never given any thought to the business end of content creation websites like mine. As I waited for my airplane, I decided that many other manufacturers were in the same boat. They really had no clue as to how rapidly the transition from print to Internet was happening. In addition, I felt these people on the other side of the fence had no idea about the underlying infrastructure of the content websites. Little did they know these publications are not really ready to handle the entire information load that is being aimed at them.
The numbers of press releases that have come my way have increased well over 300 percent in the past few months. It’s only going to get worse. Yet, I don’t have the resources to hire two, three or four full-time people to handle this load.
To process and share this information, content websites in every vertical need to staff up. There are thousands of qualified writers and other content creators that are the detritus of the catering print industry. These people need jobs. Websites like AsktheBuilder.com are only too happy to hire them. But one needs resources to do this.
The conversation with the DeWALT product manager was the seed from which the position paper I published just a week ago grew. This whitepaper details the paradigm shift that’s just recently happened and how websites have so much more to offer than traditional print.
The best part is that all this can be offered to manufacturers for less than they used to invest in the print industry. It’s a new day for consumers, manufacturers and those independent third-party websites that provide a great resource to consumers by honestly telling them the truth about products. At the end of the day, that’s really what consumers want - they want the Easy Button. They just want to be told the truth as to what works and what the best value is for their dollar.
As soon as manufacturers start directly investing in great content websites, they’ll get the word out in minutes and hours not days and weeks as happened in the past with the print industry.
About the Author
Tim Carter is a member of the IAB Long Tail Alliance, and also recently participated in its recent Washington Fly-In. He can be reached on Twitter at @AskTheBuilder and through his website AskTheBuilder.com.