An AD System to Pay Content Generators


Back to not too long ago, I had a half-completed advertising idea related to social shopping. Now I post it here to collect more feedbacks. I call it HappyDog. (Just a name, not related to that DogFood widely used within Microsoft J)


Problems


As everybody knows, ‘YOU’ is named Time’s person of 2006 for the growth and influence of user-generated content on the internet.  Why? In Wikipedia’s words:


“… chose the millions of anonymous contributors of user-generated content to Wikipedia, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Digg, Second Life, the Linux Operating System, and other providers, as Person of the Year, personified simply as You.”


But on the other hand, if we carefully think of people’s motives of generating contents we can easily find that people do this mostly out of curiosity, self-achievement or volunteerism. Problem #1: Per basic economy principles, these efforts can hardly stand long. Content quality is another downside in such circumstances.


Another awkward problem around current most successful business model, online ad, is the fact that people get tired of spammed AD when they use certain online service for free. Problem #2: But interesting enough, people often have trouble in making the right purchasing decision given even exposed to so much AD, probably because: (1) AD timing is not good, (2) they don't trust the publisher, (3) AD is not carefully targeted. This looks pretty twisted, doesn’t?


At a glance


Taking above problems into consideration, HappyDog is an innovative advertising system which provides following unique values:




  • For general content generator – get cash paid by sharing your experience with the world, even if you does not own a website.


  • For shopper – make your shopping decision more smartly


  • For business, either online or offline – market your product more directly to the most potential customers

Let us take a look at below diagram first:


DogFood Big Picture


By content generators, it could be anyone(professors, housewives, kids,...) who contribute anything(answers, e-books, songs, tutorials, ...) in any format(wiki, blog post, video,...), including but not limited to wiki & QA.  


When people produce contents, HappyDog helps insert contextual AD into the content. The big difference from existing advertizing system is that content generators gain real revenue in HappyDog system. The revenue coming from advertisers would be divided into several parts: 60% to content generator, 30% to site owner, 10% to HD. HD takes the smallest piece of pie, but apparently we will gain most amount of them, because there is only single HD, 1*M site owners, 1*M*N content generators. In addtion to real $s, the incentives here can also be points/happiness, etc. The point here is to encourage ones by certain ways. But the reason why we highlight monetary incentives is the belief that this makes something long-awaited possible. Let us think about this: Sites like Wikipedia, IMDB, or Amazon, have tons of high quality content that have been contributed freely, but why only them? Because They are cheap, handy offerings to the community. How about an book written online, sold online? Few will do this free mainly because of its costly nature. HD makes it possible though. Another interesting thing is how wikipedia-clones are going in China. They never take off. It might be cultural reasons related to general finance status.


Monetary incentives can help imporve quality of content because one gets financial penalty due to "thumb down" when we put a rating system in place.


HD helps people do better purchasing decision in that HD AD is more personal, and people are encouraged to advertise the products they sincerely love and have first hand experience on. We will address this in detail next. One will be concerned to play dirty because one also has to care about its repuation/credit disclosed by rating system.


Demo


Take Yahoo answers as example, an working page from publisher side would be:


DogFood Demo


P0 features in 1st Milestone


In order to pay content generator effectively, following features are essential in M0:


(1)    Users have the rights to select their preferred AD - When you answer questions in forums; you actually care your reputation in same way you deliver a public speech. So you also care the AD itself along with your content. Another reason supporting users selectable AD is that people might like to show certain products more persuasively via real personal experience. In short, we prefer “recommend your favorites to friends” scenario.


(2)    PPA(Pay Per Action) as major pricing model along with PPC – Advantages of PPA: no click fraud, advertisers’ preferences.


(3)    AD type – signature text, picture, inner-text popup, mini-cast


(4)    Support offline mode – Although internet users reach 0.8 billion statistically, but not every business has a website. This is especially true when people surf the net mainly for entertainment instead of business. HappyDog aims to benefit this kind of business via so called offline mode. We will take about this later.


(5)    An open platform – Open API to foster a strong ecosystem around HappyDog.


How It Works


The conceptual architect for HappyDog might be looking like follows:


DogFood Arch


In real implementation, HappyDog doesn’t depend on any specific technology platform. Take general open source platform as example, related technology could be:


       Client


      HTML


      Use Javascript/Flash extensively


       Servlet container


      Tomcat/Jboss


      Spring, OR structs


       JAS(Java Application Server)


      Jboss


      Hibernate


       File Server


      Store static data, say photos, html, pic, js


       DB


      MySQL


Its key use cases would be:


DogFood Use Cases


Buyers can be publishers or unregistered users. By online, it means the transactions whose completion can be confirmed online, say online order, user registration, complete one survey, software download, etc. By contrast, offline means the remaining trade types, such as haircare, restaurant, face-to-face trading.


PPA Implementation


PPA, as one of the core features of HappyDog System, comes with two flavors: online and offline, as illustrated in following sequence diagrams.


Online-PPA


Online PPA


The steps here are:


(1)    User browses and click the publisher site link somehow


(2)    Browser sends request to publisher


(3)    Publisher response the corresponding content along with Javascript inside


(4)    Browser starts rendering the page, and then the Javascript in Browser call the HD to get AD


(5)    HD returns content with targeted AD


(6)    Brower completes rendering


(7)    User continues browsing and click one of our AD


(8)    Brower follow the link and send the request to HD along with the needed parameters


(9)    HD do several things here:


a)        Write “who is publisher, when, advertiser, campaign, etc” into the DB and return with a TRANSACTION_ID


b)        Write TRANSACTION_ID into user’s browser cookie


c)         Redirect user to advertiser website


(10)Advertiser returns the commercial pages to user browser


(11)Just show it


(12)User is interested in something in advertiser’s web site and fills in form(sales order, lead, signup, etc) and submit


(13)Submit user inputs to advertiser


(14)Advertiser will do below things:


a)        Do anything necessary to close the deal


b)        Read user’s browser to get TRANSACTION_ID


c)         Call beacon code the confirm the transaction with HD with TRANSACTION_ID as parameter


(15)Charge advertiser and share revenue with publisher


To take part in AD promotion of this advertiser, user must give his comments about this shopping experience.


Offline-PPA


Offline mode is bit more complex.


Offline PPA


(1)    User browses and clicks the publisher site link somehow


(2)    Browser sends request to publisher


(3)    Publisher response the corresponding content along with Javascript inside


(4)    Browser starts rendering the page, and then the Javascript in Browser call the HD to get AD


(5)    HD returns content with targeted AD


(6)    Brower completes rendering


(7)    User continues browsing and click one of our AD


(8)    Brower follow the link and send the request to HD along with the needed parameters


(9)    HD do several things here:


a)        Write “who is publisher, when, advertiser, campaign, etc” into the DB and return with a TRANSACTION_ID


b)        Give user the advertiser’s profile and coupon which contains TRANSACTION_ID, advertiser name, promotion campaign.


(10)Just show it


(11)User is interested in advertiser’s  promotion program and decide to print the coupon out


(12)Go to HD


(13)Record this as a successful transaction in DB and wait for confirmation(TTL is 2weeks)


(14)User go to the advertiser with coupon to enjoy the service or product(say haircare, dinner, etc), and go back with CONFIRMATION_CODE


(15)Provide service and a CONFIRMATION_CODE


(16)User logon to HD, submit TRANSACTION_ID and CONFIRMATION_CODE


(17)After validation, give user further kickback


A series of CONFIRMATION_CODE are issued to advertiser by HD while he/she enrolls the program. Additionally, in step(15), alternatively advertiser could logon to HD and confirm the transaction.


Open Questions


There are also several problems deserving consideration at current stage:


1.       How to get advertisers? Alimama? Google AdSense is such a close system, hard to extend.


2.       Looks like current publishing place are not ready for HappyDog. They often filter AD content out. How to solve this?


3.       How to share revenue in Wiki scenario? Say 50 people contribute to a wiki page, how to distribute revenue among them?


4.       Is the money too little to stimulate enthusiasm among high quality content contributors who are usually payed very well in regular job?


5.       How to protect content, for example 1st tutorial about jailbreaking iPhone? Share revenue?


This post is mainly for feedback collection purpose. Feel free to Pai Zhuan. 🙂

Comments (1)
  1. Anonymous says:

    Good job, good ideas.

    One reason the custom content dies off is because of lack of users.

    I am sure the search team would be very interested.

Comments are closed.

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