Log in

No account? Create an account
15 June 2009 @ 10:26 pm
My nomination  
I am nominating myself as a candidate for the Livejournal Advisory Board. I would like livejournal to be an open community where people are free to create whatever they desire. Where tools help them to find and interact with likeminded, interesting people. Where people can discover, discuss and debate the issues of the day. A place people can have control over their content and where troublemakers can be warned, isolated and ultimately removed. I would like it to be easy to use. I want users to feel they are part of the site and have a real say in the future.

I love Livejournal and have been on here since 2001. I met my fiancée on this site. I use my journal as a place to express private thoughts, to write stories, interact with friends, meet new people and discuss the world.

Delivery – Livejournal has too many features that are 80% completed. Examples are Scrapbook, To Do Lists, Portals, Schools, Singles, etc. I believe that features that are beta should be marked as such. Many features need to be reworked or redocumented.
Monetisation – I believe that a site with 2 million active users ought to be profitable without being dominated by advertisements. More work could be done with sponsorship (films, news media, books, etc) which might generate content, although this might need to be opt-in. 
Openness – Livejournal should seek to be open with its user base who are more than merely customers. We have generated the content and virally marketed the series. This means announcing what is planned ahead of any changes. Likewise users should be kept updated on things that have been promised – a la carte user pics for example.
Growth – The future of Livejournal depends on obtaining new users. Attempts should be made to reach out to new members and to ensure that Livejournal has a greater public profile. I would like efforts to be made to reach out to famous people in order to encourage them to join.
Communication – Livejournal needs to develop better ways of listening to its user base. Minutes and the agenda of advisory board meetings should be published.  Any changes to terms of service or account levels should be announced in advance, preferably with a period of consultation.
Archiving – currently LJ Archive is great for backing up Livejournals. But it is not an official tool and it should be official supported. 


Skittish Eclipse: mywordfoxfirefey on June 18th, 2009 08:53 am (UTC)
I want to believe in your monetisation statement, but I'm not sure it's as easy as it sounds. LJ's previous sponsorship stuff has included:

* Sponsored layouts: Seem okay but not brilliant. There's a current run of them from Cisco, but that's a pretty recent development. Most popular ones were the Havaianas ones way back. Diet Pepsi Maxx not so popular. They're relatively cheap and easy to implement, but I don't notice them on high traffic journals and lots of people on LJ do viewing in their own styles.
* Sponsored mood themes: Once. Diet Pepsi Maxx ones. A bust and sorta ugly.
* Sponsored v-gifts: Ended up being used as instruments of a user fit; hard to know if they failed because they don't work or if it's because of other stuff upsetting LJers at the time.
* Sponsored Writer's Block: Decently successful--people respond to these, they're cheap and easy to implement, etc.
* Sponsored communities: Mostly flops, although the one for the Blood and Chocolate movie apparently did pretty well. Unfortunately, these are very staff time intensive to implement and a gamble, so they have difficulties seeming like a value.
* Amp'd Mobile integration stuff: Amp'd Mobile was an idiotic company that burned through money, some of which they threw at LJ in the form of sponsored texting features and a sponsored community that featured their awkward eeeedgy animations like Lil' Bush. Ended up filing for bankruptcy because they waived credit checks for their approximately $100 a month service...and apparently people with bad credit aren't good at bill paying. It's nice that LJ got to ride their gravy train for a bit, but it's not a viable strategy, because most companies are not that dumb.
* Explore LJ partnership with MSN News: Failed, the links to MSN news on Explore pages disappeared one day without comment.
* Partnership with Moo: A while ago, seemed to work out pretty well for both parties. I imagine LJ gets (or got) some affiliate money from Moo sales through LJ, but I don't think it's a ton, especially since they haven't been featured or pushed in a while. moocards has about 7,000 watchers--respectable...but really not enough for any real income.
* Partnership with Blurb: This recent one sunk like a rock; I deduce this because on the news post announcing it, only one/two people were complaining about the software. Having downloaded the software and tested it out, it's horribly shoehorned onto the LJ platform. The lack of complaints and reports of software limitations (like it only downloading the first five hundred posts, no knowledge of whether posts are friended or private, no icons) suggests people weren't even interested in trying it out. I'm going to assume LJ gets affiliate money if someone buys a book of their LJ through Blurb, but it's possible they were just a convenient partner to offer a feature without much effort.
* Sponsored accounts: A pretty decent idea, but I haven't really seen them outside of the Cyrillic sector. Basically, they give a user the advantages of a paid account if they use the sponsored style and have sponsored ad banners in their profile. Unfortunately, there's only a limited number of user slots this is good for, and they haven't really done much to maximize who can get the sponsorships--I was able to snag one for testing with a sparse test account. That doesn't do LJ much good, because those kinds of accounts need to go to journals that are highly viewed for a decent advertiser ROI.
* Pimping stuff in news: Don't know how well this works or not, but it's cheap and easy, so might as well. Includes things like the promotion of "our friends" over at Nature Made running a contest.

So, I *am* interested in what you said, but I want some more concrete ideas about good strategies given that LJ has tried a lot of things in this arena to varying levels of success, but never successfully enough to stop ad creep.
DCradiantsoul on June 18th, 2009 09:59 am (UTC)
First off I am not anti-adverts. I believe that the site exists to allow people to explore their creativity and interact with other people. I don't see that this is incompatible with adverts in some cases.

A problem that LJ is likely to face is that on-line ad reviews have collapsed and this is unlikely to reverse.

I would livejournal to look at tying up with aspects of big media(newspapers and book publishers). I believe these are text oriented in a way that fits with livejournal. As to how much money there is available I am not really sure.

I have to be honest and say I think LJs advert policy is not too bad. Adverts allow those who can't or won't pay to continue to enjoy what I feel are core features of the site and create content for other users.

A big issue I see is adverts becoming more targetted and blurring the link between adverts and direct marketing. For example the way in which google targets ads to searches. Livejournal could have a rich source of personal and that raises privacy issues. I would like to see a statement of principles/debate over this issue.
Skittish Eclipse: mywordfoxfirefey on June 18th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
I tl;dr because I care
I worry about ad creep because LJ is starting to reach an upper limit of pages to put banner ads on. Their greatest coup in this respect showing ads on all Basic accounts to people not logged in, converting millions of journals into revenue producing properties as the majority of LJ's traffic isn't logged in. But there aren't any more easy gains like that. I worry about them having to end up putting a greater quantity of ads on individual pages, and that driving more people to install AdBlock, which is a vicious no-win cycle. I think sponsorships are a better model for the site overall, but am concerned that previous attempts haven't seemed sustainable or viable.

Banner ads are problematic. The more you browse the site, the lower quality ads you start seeing as premium ads stop giving impressions because you've already seen them. The realities of ad networks mean not all ads actually follow LJ's advert policy--I just went to test out what ads are being shown. They weren't bottom barrel, but I saw one that autoplayed sound within the first 15 page views. That's the kind of thing that drives people to AdBlock. I also dislike how often ads with malware happen.

It's difficult and unintuitive to report inappropriate ads. The feedback link is gone nowadays. Figuring out how to get a hold of an ad that needs to be blocked is a guesswork process.

Inappropriate ads sometimes cause snit fits, when they show up on the wrong journals. People don't understand that LJ doesn't prescreen ads and then freak out about it. The latest kerfluffle along those likes is DOMA ads (anti-gay marriage) started showing up on queer friendly content. (Me, I would've clicked on those ads and made DOMA pay LJ and Google money for a useless visit.)

Re targeting: LJ has been there, done that, still doing it, and it doesn't do enough good to improve the ads, probably due to a lack of enough good ad inventory. The ad server last I checked got information on: gender (even though this is not displayed publicly on the site), age (even if you've set your birthday to not be displayed to anyone), country, notable interests, and content from public entries. This has been going on since around the beginning of ads, there's not much more useful information that LJ could give advertisers anyway, and it doesn't seem to be a big concern. There's not much gain in sending over locked content, so I don't think they'd do it. Their latest attempt at improving ad targetting is to make choosing which ad categories are best fits during the community creation process flow; pretty innocuous, if annoying.

Of the two things you've said, I don't think newspapers is very viable for revenue. LJ is already trying this route in some respect with the hosting of UK's Independent Minds, India's Mint, and Russia's Gazeta, but I think these partnerships are less about making money and more about bringing in new user accounts. The partnership with the MSN News thing didn't work.

Book publishers might be decent--there could be some features like a streamlined poster for book reviews that make Amazon affiliate links to things like books and DVDs and such. Don't know how much money it'd make in the end, though, since LJ only gets money if people buy things through the affiliate link.
DCradiantsoul on June 19th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC)
Re: I tl;dr because I care
I quite like the google approach to ads in that they are small, text and generally relevant. I would wonder if LJ would be better off outsourcing its ads to google. Although from a commercial point of view they would lose a lot of control of their business, but on the plus side this site does get a lot of hits.

It is quite hard for me to comment on ads as I am a paid user and don't see them. I remember back in Brad's day when they proposed limits on posting for basic users there was a real outcry...The problem is that free accounts are going to be the way of getting new people onto livejournal. I imagine it must be difficult to balance the account levels(too many features on free accounts will reduce paid member, too few will lead to people migrating elsewhere).

I don't believe ads are going anywhere. I think this site probably has 2million active users of which about 2% pay anything. That is going to be about $1m revenue. My guess is that 10 employees and some office space is going to cost upwards of $1m per year before servers, bandwidth, etc. I am no expert on these things, but suspect it is going to be $1m plus. And on top of that is SUP really paid $25m(according to the rumour mill). They would be looking for $2m per year profit to get a 8% return.