A Stellar Tech Model
The resilience of CNET in the face of so many consumer technology blogs and social networking engines such as Diggs only underscores the reality of Internet content: Web 2.0 hotshots have nothing to link to or talk about without a property like CNET investing in quality, comprehensive editorial.
In 2006, CNET’s broad portfolio of properties and well-syndicated content increased its global reach about 13 percent to an average of nearly 125 million unique visitors in any given month. The relatively new CNET TV is the most ambitious broadband video play in the category, with good software that ought to be a model for other online media. CNET has succeeded in attracting a wide range of marketers including Purina, Suzuki, Chili’s, and Fox. Its partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group produced a comprehensive study of how young people engage with technology. While other sites may have attracted more attention, CNET continues to attract ad revenue to the bottom line and offer advertisers unrivaled exposure.
When it comes to consumer technology — from gadgets to game reviews — no site touches this go-to hub. CNET has successfully leveraged its brand recognition via deft syndication deals with retail sites such as BestBuy.com, In.Mobile.Yahoo.com, and even on TiVo. While tarnished a bit last year by Securities and Exchange Commission inquiries over stock options and executive resignations, the site continues to demonstrate that good, well-distributed content remains at the heart of the digital publishing game.
Engadget has become the poster child for blog ambitions. The site became a real player in the tech publishing world as a venue where industry insiders leak exclusive information, and it’s a prime beneficiary of the link-and-be-linked-to blogging ecosystem. To its credit, while the site was acquired as part of Weblogs by AOL, it hasn’t lost any of its snarky style and eye for offbeat tech. While it’s achieved reach and street cred, Engadget still hasn’t learned much about how ad presentation fits into a blog layout; the site features a cluttered patchwork of ad placements.
The pros and cons of user-fueled content discovery are clear where Digg.com is concerned. Social news can be hacked too easily, but the 700,000-strong user base that submits content and votes on thousands of stories each day continues to offer marketers an invaluable perspective on what tech mavens really want to know. Like much of Web 2.0, social news presents challenges for marketers as to where and when to place what sort of ads.
Wired.com’s Wired News came back under the Condé Nast umbrella last year to rejoin the print brand. It continues to offer the most compelling takes on technology stories informed by the broadest political and cultural sensibilities. As a result, it attracts rich media display advertising from AOL, Nokia, and American Express, often on the same page, while remaining uncluttered and relevant.
Meanwhile, Ziff Davis’ 1Up Show, DL.TV, and CrankyGeeks garnered hundreds of thousands of downloads by turning the cameras on its own staff and letting them chat. This may not be a trend we want to encourage too much, but the Ziff vodcasts were among the best breakthrough trends in online technology news last year.