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The Urbis Business Model

I love Urbis.  Urbis is a fascinating web site, although I don’t enjoy spending time on it.  What I love is the mechanism.  Urbis is a site for people to post poetry and stories.  The kicker is the review system.  People review your work and give you feedback, but to read the reviews you need “points”.  To get points, you write reviews.  No surprise, there is not a 1:1 correlation.

The result is a page view generating machine.  Who can choose not to read a review someone wrote about you?  If someone writes a review of your stuff, you have to read it.  So there are always reviews being written and people unlocking reviews.  This is a great example of many of the mechanisms people are talking about today when they talk about using game mechanics to make social media more exciting.

Unfortunately, this is probably not a super-valuable audience to advertisers, although it is the creative class.  Maybe these people are the mythical “influencers”?  Also, there are probably the typical UGC concerns advertisers have with much of this content.

I also love their home page.  It does a great job of giving a sense of active community.  They have done several nice implementations of Ajax throughout the site.  Despite the page view generating nature of their site, and despite the constant reviewing, unlocking, reading, and rating that goes on, they don’t force a lot of page reloads.  Pages change dynamically and are intuitive and easy to use.  This is a marked difference from MySpace, where everything requires an entire screen refresh (with accompanying advertisements).

Regardless, I would love to find a more interesting market to apply this review/page view generation mechanism.  So far my best idea has been a “blog review site”.  I wish I could come up with better.  Post ideas in the comments if you have ‘em.

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