Visitors to websites rarely enjoy the ads. Indeed, Google has raised the bar for “useful” and “pertinent” ads. Even though, people don’t buy things every day nor do they need to think about buying things every day. Since most ad systems are constantly pitching purchases to you when you, by definition don’t need to buy something nor change your buying habits, there is a mismatch between current monetization schemes for online communities and what community members really want in their community experience.
Advertising must change to sustain communities into the future. I believe I’m on to something. I believe every community can have a corresponding store (online and/or physical) which becomes indispensable for the community members. The community is paid for by being the ultimate reminder for the members of where to shop for community related goods. This is an improvement over traditional ads because the associated store is there for you only when you’re thinking about the community. Think about most trail/bicycle/water trail stores — they’re equal parts busieness and social network. This is a workable solution by my measure; one I like.
How about an example? Try http://www.mdtrails.com It is a real community I made several years ago as a testbed for some ideas I was putting together at the time — online community around local, Maryland trails, integrating a social component, and bring in a way to make money that is NOT traditional ad based. I have used Google ads on MDtrails and many other sites in the past — I know it is a quick solution (Thanks Google). I just think we need to dig deeper to push our communities into the mid 21 century.
So here is an offer and a challenge to a Maryland trail outfitter with a web catalog — let’s partner to tie MDtrails.com (hikemaryland.com too) to your online store (much like I’ve done with an amazon aStore) and let’s test monetization with a real store, with real profit margins, and a sizeable catalog.
Contact me @ digital mountain consulting if you’re interested.