Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I selected salon.com (sorry, still can't make a link) as my web site to focus on. Salon is an independent news agency that, as far as I know, has no counterpart in “hard” media like magazines, television networks, newspapers, etc. Most news web sites all have these counterparts (CNN, business week, FoxNews, etc.) these days.

The basic gist of the homepage is just a ton of articles. There is one big picture associated with the feature article, and it involves Abu Ghraib prison, which the article is about. There are dozens of articles posted under this one, and you just have to scroll down to check them all out. To the left is “from the wire” stories that I imagine are more current, and come from outside sources.

The general tone of t the articles and the site as a whole and is distinctively liberal. That’s why I found their banner ad to be interesting. Salon, just like nearly every other web site out there, has a huge advertising banner on the top of the screen. But instead of advertising cars, computers, or movies (as most banner ads do, at least at the web sites I’m accustomed to), it is advertising an online book store (powells.com).

This is just an idea, but I wonder if powells.com would every pay to advertise on a site like Foxnews.com (a distinctively conservative web site, TV network, and of course, owner Rupert Murdoch). It is presented as an alternative to barnes and noble or borders because it focuses on used books, rare book, and out of print books.

Again, this is just a theory, but I bet liberals are more likely (a) to be interested in those kind of books, and (b) to actively seek out an alternative to huge corporate “monsters” like Barnes and noble and borders, which most conservatives don’t consider to be “monsters” at all. The tagline is “from tattoos to Tolstoy,” and I bet more liberals are interested in both tattoos and Tolstoy than conservatives. Just an idea. Salon is a site that captures a distinctively liberal audience, and while there aren’t many companies out there that cater specifically to liberals, there are many that would like to exploit their often strange tastes in products.

Salon, like many other sites out there, offers a “premium” package, where you have to log in and pay a monthly fee for the “premium” content. This is how a lot of sites make some serious bank, from porn sites to espn.com. They give you the free taste to whet your appetite, and they know exactly which articles would be the most appealing to people, and they place these under the “premium” content. It’s a pretty smart idea, I think, and I imagine pretty lucrative too.

One thing I noticed immediately about salon is that it has few links to other sites. I found this to be surprising. Most news sites I’ve been to offer you countless links to their “affiliates” and the like, but since Salon is independent, it doesn’t do that. That was kind of refreshing. Plus, since it doesn’t have a hard news counterpart, there are no links to suscribe to the magazine, or the network, or whatever.

Finally, I noticed that even Salon.com has personal ads. I found that to be kind of funny. That also seems to be a good way for any web site to make money. And again, salon can offer a particular kind of person in the ads, mostly liberals.

That’s about it I guess.

-josh holzbauer

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