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Bloggers, Writers, Web World Go Vertical

Tomorrow's Web success is today's editorially deep site

By Tony Tjan - November 26, 2008
Anthony Tjan is CEO of Cue Ball Group, a venture and growth equity firm based in Boston and Vice Chairman of Parthenon, a leading strategic advisory firm. His recent Harvard Business Review article goes directly to questions the media industry is asking itself these days as it struggles for clarity and vision online.

Many of you at will be familiar with the likes of Adify (a vertical ad network platform) and vertically themed networks such as Glam Media. These two companies are part of a larger trend that I see for the next generation Web. Over the past 10 years of advising, launching and investing in new online initiatives, it feels more than ever that Web 3.0 or whatever you wish to call it, will be less about a technology than about the Web taking an old world lesson from traditional media: relevancy will come from those who are more specialized and editorialized. Think Etsy versus E-Bay.

I am interested in learning more about folks who have joined a vertical ad network or have experience working on high quality specialty Web sites. The concept is straightforward: if you are a blogger or Web site content owner with high quality content but limited reach (if only they could find me/knew me), vertical ad network services aggregate several commonly themed sites and bloggers and sell that ad inventory to a large advertiser who now gains access across several high quality sites with sufficient distribution (i.e. audience) aggregation to make it worth their time. The rationale is that more highly targeted advertising is as or more effective than advertising that just goes for reach in large numbers. Quality plus quantity is theoretically resolved with these vertical ad networks.

So if you are a writer, blogger, or Web site owner, the strategic lesson here is focus, focus, focus. Become known as an expert for something. To paraphrase Richard Branson, "Being the best is a decent business model." With the wealth of knowledge and talent as well as publishers and advertisers who use as a knowledge resource -- the case is made in point there. is well-defined by its community of users who find it more relevant because there is a sense of understanding, affiliation, and expertise for those in the media industry. Users of this site are as or more likely to check out new job postings here as they are their local newspaper directory, Monster, HotJobs, or any other more horizontal player out there. So onward, forward and vertical!

For more insights on vertical ad networks and Web 3.0, read Harvard Business Review: Old World Lessons for the Next-Gen Web.

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