Easy Come, Easy Go

Ahhhh, the Internet.

We love it because of its diversity. In fact, the only way it can be accurately generalized is when we say “it’s a network of networks, accessed by digital computing devices” or something equally as broad (as a reasonable definition for such an enormous medium ought to be.) Anyone who thinks the Internet is not stunningly diverse and not remotely hermetic or specific to a single site does not, in fact, have any idea what the Internet actually is.

This is why I always enjoy reading extreme statements about one facet of the Internet or another. I was motivated to start typing today by Mark Cuban’s blog “http://blogmaverick.com/2010/04/22/is-facebook-the-new-internet-and-how-soon-before-microsoft-tries-to-buy-it/#comments” that, as the title suggests, considers if Facebook is the new black. Ahem. The new Internet. It reminded me of a previous article I had read in the Daily Online Examiner from Media Post (http://www.mediapost.com/publications/index.cfm?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=96264). And especially of this classic: http://www.newsweek.com/id/106554/page/1 about the fact that the Internet would fail. Oops. FAIL.

As a disclaimer, I read nearly everything that comes along, taking in huge amounts of information, understanding very little of it, and just hoping that my subconscious makes sense of it all. I appreciate the efforts of the reporters and the information they produce and definitely appreciate the efforts of all bloggers and talking heads, no matter how misguided.

Moving right along, the first bit is where Mark drags on about FB success culminating in ‘FB becoming the biggest threat to Apple and Google.’ Ha! Who cares about Akamai, M$ and Cisco or the fact that FB doesn’t’ have any proprietary hardware/software of their own. And the second bit quotes NBC’s Jeff Zucker saying “The marketplace has really, really slowed dramatically. It’s still a growth area, but I don’t think it’s what we thought it would be.”

For the record, I’m not disputing this as it relates to Mark’s love of Facebook or Jeff’s sentiments regarding a very specific site or segment on the Internet. But to apply this statement across the Internet or to Internet advertising/success in general might be a bit of a leap (Ok, it dwarfs Evil Kenevil jumping the Snake River). Some areas are growing and no area is so stable or regular that it can be accurately quantified month by month to say ‘this is the new Internet’ (What?!) or Internet advertising is dead. To start, let me jump to Zucker’s bit in Media Post. Let’s read the example(s) cited by Media Post.

Consider, FT.com reported recently that the site took in an estimated $70 million since launching one year ago, and was on track to overtake YouTube in revenue.

What’s more, the current economic meltdown could spur huge growth at Web TV sites, if consumers with broadband decide they can no longer justify the cost of paying for cable TV.’

Huh? Call me crazy (many people do) but I see three fairly different statements here.

First, “the marketplace has really slowed.” Yes, but it was probably growing at a rate that was not realistically sustainable, as much as we all wish for unlimited inventory serving unlimited impressions at uncapped CPMs. Three hundred billion impressions at a $50 CPM this week? Why not!!? But that had to be reigned into reality for all sorts of reasons, not the least basic math, fundamental supply and demand and performance. There are ‘x’ number of people seeing ‘y’ pages making for ‘z’ impressions. You can only do so many overlays and companions before you are maxed, at least until population growth or Internet use increases. And this assumes you are showing the right ad at the right time AND that this is the best means of promoting products or more specifically eCommerce. Anyway, all segments will grow, but not as fast as your vested VC would like. Within the available inventory, a combination of performance and “scarcity of scarcity” (read: commodity) ultimately forced a cap. This is not slowing, this is market correction.

Next, FT.com took in a reported $70 million. This is pretty impressive to say the least, but large amounts of traffic, financial traffic to boot, can do this sort of thing. What was the cost of driving it there? And with such success, wouldn’t one expect fifty “me too’s” to show up, slowing the growth of a single site while spreading the wealth? I’d be STUNNED if that didn’t occur. So while statement two seems to support statement one, whatever happens to FT.com is really the result of my above explainer regarding market forces than it is proof that the marketplace has slowed like it had tetanus. In this guy’s humble opinion, the market is correcting and if anything, has picked up, just more prodigiously. But what could I know, working in it every day? In Cuban’s brilliant analysis, since everyone he knows spends more time on FB (sad, sad life and friends you have Mark) than surfing the good ol’ Internet it’s clear that FB is the new Internet, and if M$ buys it, then what?

Whatever. M$ might buy it and see the same decline that Rupert saw with FIM/MySpace. For the record, that decline was coming anyway. It wasn’t Rupert’s fault. Explicitly.

The last point in Zucker’s article, “the current economic meltdown could spur huge growth at Web TV sites, if consumers with broadband decide they can no longer justify the cost of paying for cable” is well…..a dangling non-sequitor, patentde misdirections or shear idocy. If anything, it suggests that the market won’t be slowing! This week Hulu deciding to charge which says there is no ‘huge growth’ and no one is certain how to capitalize. So, a super small marketplace overall is now charging out of necessity. Shocking. For the record, I’ll be unleashing my new pay model soon. It will truly change things, not fuck them up to the point of FAIL. But that’s for another post.

In sum, a few sites have slowed, a few have picked up, advertising as a whole is in flux, and more money seems to be spent online and FB still only gets about .05c/day from its users (Facebook’s annual revenue per user- approx $1 Billion / 500 million users = $2.00 a year or $0.005 a day from each user.). What a joke.

Now excuse me while I fire up the DVR. I have some TV ads to FFW past while surfing the Internets on my iPhone.