Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What We Learned At Pubcon Las Vegas

We are decompressing from a trip to Las Vegas
and Pubcon. If you are one of those who goes
to events like Web 2.0 or TechCrunch40,
Pubcon might be an eye-opener.

Topix' Chris Tolles who goes every year
summarized the event last year. He's right
about this being a pragmatic crew. We
couldn't find people who are out to change
the world or who are looking to get eye-balls
and will worry about monetization later.
Pubcon'ers seem consumed with increasing
conversion rates by 5% on some obscure
network of web properties that caters to
retiring baby boomers or people who traffic
in auto spoilers. These people will look at
you side-wise if you exert any energy that is
not about putting cash in your pocket. One
speaker derisively pointed out how much
Google juice Nike wastes because it refuses
the advise of its SEOs to use the keywords
'shoes' on their home page - Nike's marketing
department insists on callings its product
'footware.' This is a cardinal sin at Pubcon.

The high priest at Pubcon is Google algo-god
Matt Cutts who gave a keynote address one
morning. Cutts was good to stick around
during the event but he put a chill up the
spine of speakers in one seminar who were
speaking about link-buying.

As our readers may know, Google recently
tweaked its algo to put the hurt on companies
that traffic in paid links such as PayPerPost
and TextLinkAds. The biggest gripe at Pubcon
was that Google has amassed history's
largest, fastest treasure chest by selling
links but now it's is punishing others for
selling links. As in Pubcon blogger put it "I
just won an iPod Nano and now I'm going to
blog about it and link to the company that
gave me the Nano. I'm then going to link to
Matt Cutts blog and ask him if this is banned

Perhaps the lightest and most visionary
presentation was given by Demand Media's
Richard Rosenblatt. The former MySpace
frontman ran a short video taken by
Justine.tv's Justine, showing the pair
descending into Las Vegas on the Rosenblatt
private jet. There was really no point to the
video and that's exactly what Rosenblatt
wanted us to leave with. People want to watch
video on the net even if it's lame. So Demand
Media is making a major push to fill up its
legions of web sites with video. And if you
can get users to make and submit video for
free that's all the better.

The big picture that Rosenblatt wanted us to
understand is that the 3 word searches (the
long tail) more often than not do not return
the helpful results that searchers seek.
Rosenblatt is buying domains, working seo and
filling up long-tail sites with content that
he feels will be helpful. That way the
domains that he bought for tens of millions
of dollars will provide greater returns than
what the sellers thought they could achieve.
The exit is clearly an IPO that will enable
Rosenblatt to upgrade his jet.

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