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Denton goes all TMZ on people

Nick Denton introduces a commission on traffic with a guaranteed draw on all of his properties. Fun fun. Clearly the goal is for people to write insanely popular posts. If I were Valleywag, it would be one “Lindsay Lohan in scandalous pose with noted Silicon Valley VC – pictures after the jump” post after another. “Top 10 easiest VCs to raise money from” – many people have mentioned the desire to create more Diggbait based on this.

The real tragedy is that Paul never discloses the page rate that Valleywag people get paid. Knowing this and knowing the average CPM of the site would allow you to take a stab at the economic model getting applied here. People have pointed out a couple of interesting things:

1) The home page is “free page views” for Denton

2) When people quit, their page views become “free”

3) Denton does a poor job monetizing RSS feeds today. Those are essentially worthless views that he is getting for free. Once he starts to monetize those effectively, the value will have to be reflected in the page rate or in some other mechanism.

But the economic value of those page views could, at least partially, be redistributed to current employees by bumping up the marginal page rate for their views.

Blogonomics implies that new hires get the short end of the stick, but that can be easily remedied. First, sites that have more transitory news value can simply have higher page rates to compensate for less long term value per post. One would hope that on a site with breaking news that is valuable, the CPM is higher? Second, you could have a larger guaranteed draw to start, slowly reducing it over time. That is Sales force 101. Finally, maybe that is less valuable? Pages that never get link love and long term traffic probably are less valuable. Compensation reflects that.

What I don’t want: I hate Diggbait from non-experts. Reporters cranking out top 10 lists for momentary bursts of Digg love would upset me.What I want: I hope a reporter proves the value of doing good investigative work and demonstrates that it is worth spending more time than he would have at $12/post to do a bang-up job creating some great posts!

It will be interesting to see how such a visible experiment works out. Newspapers never directly compensated reporters for increasing readership. This is a great example of aligning goals that is only possible digitally.

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