Down at the Amway Lemonade Stand…
A few weeks ago we talked about the advent of Pajamas Media, the brainchild (or more accurately the brainfetus since its still gestating) of a trio of rightwing bloggers who have are attempting to cash in on their minor celebrity; a celebrity that, in the great strata of celebrity fame, lurks somewhere south of being named 2004 National Cheerleader Scholarship Finalist. Pumped up full of hubris these three worthies retired to a local Dennys where they plotted the Great Blogging Convergence, and tossed around terms like “paradigm shift“, “content provider“, “ad buys“, and “…who ordered the Tuna Melt?“.
As luck would have it, just as the “worst American media screwup since the Maine” has given the 101st Fighting Keyboarders an enemy to fight that doesn’t ask anymore of them other than hitting CTRL + V, we get a glimpse of their secret plans to send the dreaded MSM to its watery grave while at the same time making them all stinking rich. First, here is how it works:
John Hawkins: So, what you’re doing now is the original concept you had?
Marc Danziger: Very close. (It has) three legs: 1) (An) ad network serving mainstream Internet advertisers; 2) Feed serving blog content to mainstream media; 3) Feed serving blog content and ways of finding blog content to the general public.
Here’s a way to think about it: the power of the blogosphere is inherently dynamic and chaotic by nature. It ebbs, surges, and moves in ways that can’t be predicted or controlled, and if you tried, you’d kill what’s interesting about it. But, as more and more attention gets paid to it, there is value there – in the attention (ads) and in the content. So how do you capture that value? How do you make it possible for bloggers to be like Ani DiFranco? So they can be the masters and mistresses of their own fate and not wait for The Washington Monthly, Newsweek, or The New Republic to hire them as columnists? So we want to build a set of interfaces between the traditional media world and blogs: blog energy, creativity, and ideas on one side, and mainstream media attention and dollars on the other.
Which means that PajamaMedia affiliates will all suddenly transmogrify into bisexual female folksingers who will read mainstream media reports, rewrite them adding editorial commentary, and then resell them back to the mainstream media (who have more money than brains) because the bloggers have cornered all of the “energy, creativity, and ideas” in the marketplace and are wasting it on their day jobs as insurance claim adjusters and call-center managers. That’s probably not what it says in the business plan but, hey, nobody ever reads anything in a business plan other than the numbers anyway. The numbers? Glad you asked:
John Hawkins: I know that you signed up some bloggers a while back (because I was one of them) and you’re signing up more bloggers today. So what’s the difference between those of us who were signed up months ago and those who sign on today?
Marc Danziger: I.e. what are we going to do with the original 60 that we aren’t going to do with later bloggers? In terms of business terms, etc.?
John Hawkins: Well, in general: is there a difference?
Marc Danziger: Contractually, no. You have MFN status, so you’ll get the best terms we offer (although at this time we intend to offer everyone the same ad deal). You had/have a head start on signing up affiliates — we’re planning on leveraging inter-blogger relationships as a way of lowering our marketing costs.
Although I had an interesting email from a blogger who wanted to know what we expected he would make on referrals relative to ads, I told him I was relatively “uncomfy” with businesses where the typical person made more from bringing new people in than they made from doing business. The affiliate income should be a laignaippe, not a driver.
Um, okay. But what about the money?:
John Hawkins: The advertising deal you’re going to be offering — you say it doesn’t compete with blogads, so what type of ads will Pajamas media be running?
Marc Danziger: Well, yes, we will be competing — we’re both trying to get you to run our ads. So on one hand, we will be having a friendly competition for blogger attention. Bloggers can run both, but at some point you start looking like a NASCAR car.
We’re looking at a different group of advertisers – more mainstream and corporate, which we think will pay higher ad rates and do more sustained advertising. But Henry’s done a good job, and there’s a lot we will learn from competing with him.
John Hawkins: Now, I’ve heard some talk about some pretty good rates for ads. Why do you think you’ll be able to get exceptional rates?
Marc Danziger: Two basic reasons: because those are the mainstream rates that major ad buys get, and we’re going to set things up so that we can do ad buys as major blocks. (Also), because we have some cool ad targeting ideas which will allow us to do a better job – than almost anyone else – in targeting ads without tracking individuals.
John Hawkins: Want to give any general idea of what sort of rates you think you can get or is it too early?
Marc Danziger: Too early, but we’ve been talking to major ad-serving companies and international advertising agencies and haven’t been laughed out of the room.
Translation: Months from now, every PajamaMedia affiliate blogger is going to Supersizing every fucking lunch, baby! Oh, yeah!
Finally, the obvious question: how will Pajama Media control what goes out over the ethernet in their name:
John Hawkins: Now these “Johnny-on-spot-posts” in foreign countries: how are you going to make sure that they’re legit? Although he turned out to be the real deal, I know there was some controversy, for example, when the blogger from “Where is Raed?” started posting live from Iraq before the invasion. People wondered if he was legit, a faker from another country, a CIA plant, etc.
Marc Danziger: That’s one of the hardest questions we’re dealing with in talking to media folks. In the blogosphere, things are corrected over time – “truth-in-progress,” I call it. So you can be casual. So we’re looking at ways of doing some basic validation/factchecking. But remember we had a reporter here in LA who did a story from Chico without ever going there. The best way to strip away falsehood is to be open to criticism.
So, remember: If the MSM supposedly goofs on a story it’s Newsweek Lied, People Died, but if the Pajama Warriors don’t get it right, it’s called “truth-in-progress“.
The potential investors are going to be loving those libel/slander suits…