July 18, 2009

Skimlinks: Make money from your blog

Skimlinks: Revenue through recommendations from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaDuring the Traveling Geeks‘ visit to Seedcamp in London last week, I sat down for a short interview with Alicia Navarro, founder and CEO of Skimlinks, an affiliate marketing service aimed at publishers that want to make money from their shopping recommendations. It’s an alternative to traditional affiliate marketing from sites like Amazon, where you get paid a commission for referrals but need to jump through a number of hoops when working with multiple sites.

With Skimlinks you add one line of code to your site and it takes care of updating your site with marketing links automatically. Sites where products and services are discussed — particularly those covering fashion, technology, gadgets, parenting, autos and home and lifestyle — are the ones that stand to benefit most from Skimlinks.

Some large sites are already pulling in $10,000 per month “without having to do anything — that’s the beauty of it,” Alicia says.

Naturally, inserting commercial links in the middle of your editorial content raises all kinds of issues, so Skimlinks has developed best practices and guidelines. “We believe very passionately in the importance of maintaining editorial integry,” Alicia says. Editors can stay completely focused on creating high-quality content without having to deal with integrating affiliate marketing links into their sites. “Skimlinks monetizes it after the fact, so editors can be agnostic and completely unaware of what is monetized and what isn’t.”

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July 16, 2009

The hottest game startup in Europe

Europe’s hottest online game site from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

moshiJD LasicaAt the offices of Accel Partners a week ago today during the Traveling Geeks trip to London, several of us came away especially impressed by Michael Acton Smith, founder and CEO of Mind Candy, the UK-based company that makes Moshimonsters.com.

Moshi Monsters has become Europe’s hottest online game site (or, if you prefer, social networking site) for the 7- to 11-year-old bracket. The site, which went live a bit over a year ago, has grown by word of mouth to 3 million players, and it’s just now reaching critical mass. After a marketing push, it added another 1 million members in June and likely more than a million in July, with one third of players in the US, a third in the UK and a third elsewhere.

Kids can adopt, dress up and take care of a monster of their choice. Unlike Club Penguin, where you create an avatar, wander around a 3D space and chat, Moshi Monsters “is more akin to a child-friendly social network,” Smith says. “The beauty about monsters is that everyone seems to love them. The guys like the scary zombie, Abominable Snowman type monsters, the girls like the cute ones with bows.”

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July 10, 2009

Will NBC, grassroots media clash at London Olympics?

Alex Balfour

JD LasicaDuring yesterday afternoon’s Econsultancy Roundtable at the Globe Theater, I was seated next to Alex Balfour, head of new media for London2012.com, the committee that is organizing the 2012 Summer Games in London. (See info about the London 2012 Open Weekend on July 24-26.)

Midway through our session, the discussion turned to media coverage of the Olympics. I asked Alex about the tensions between the contractual rights demanded by traditional media and the burgeoning coverage by grassroots media publishers — conflicts that seem to crop up at every Olympics.

During the 2008 Beijing Games, bloggers were upset over NBC’s attempts to quelch any online video coverage of same-day events. If memory serves, NBC served YouTube with scores of takedown notices to remove amateur video coverage of competitive events, and there was even a decree at one point that cell phones would be banned from the stadium.

In 2012, what happens when big media bump up against sharing culture?

Alex obviously doesn’t speak for NBC but suggested their No. 1 concern is around live moving images. The network is not so much bothered about people capturing images. “We wouldn’t and can’t stop anyone from generating or creating content at the event,” he said. It’s likely that NBC will again work with YouTube to remove content that it believes conflicts with its contractual rights.

Is live streaming an option?

I asked what harm would result with live streaming — something Robert Scoble is doing on the trip with Kyte and Howard Rheingold is doing with Qik. Alex said supporting 80,000 people who want to stream media would present insuperable technical barriers. (That was a politic answer. I’ll guess that Olympic authorities will take proactive steps to prevent any live video streaming during the Games.)

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May 19, 2009

Introducing Traveling Geeks London


JD LasicaOne reason I’ve been overstretched for many months is that I’ve been working since last August as the (unpaid) chief organizer of the second Traveling Geeks expedition to explore cutting-edge technologies in a hotbed of innovation. Last spring it was Israel. This time around: London!

On Sunday we launched the TravelingGeeks.com website using WordPress, and I think it has some cool features, such as a widget that captures real-time conversations.

On Monday most of the Geeks got together over lunch at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco to hear how to use Nokia’s Ovi Maps (see above) on our mobile devices. Nokia is loaning us N79s for the trip while in London and Cambridge July 4-11, and Jorg Malang, Head of Ovi Maps, and Maria Rakusanova, Product Marketing Manager — who are in the area for Where 2.0 — walked us through an hourlong live demo.

Jeff Saperstein, JD Lasica, Ken Kaplan of Intel, Christine Ngo of Ogilvy, photo by Susan Bratton

Jeff Saperstein, JD Lasica, Ken Kaplan of Intel, Christine Ngo of Ogilvy. Photo by Susan Bratton

We have a great lineup of Geeks for TG2: Howard Rheingold, Craig Newmark, Robert Scoble, Sarah Lacy, Meghan Asha, Sarah Austin, Tom Foremski, Sky Schuyler, Susan Bratton, Renee Blodgett, founder Jeff Saperstein and myself.

Here’s our still-developing Agenda — pretty impressive! On tap: a “speed date” with Seed Camp winners, a podcast at the Guardian on the future of news and media, talks and sessions at the 2gether conference, meeting with Accel startups, participating in an Econsultancy Roundtable with tech startup winners, hitting the TechCrunch Europe Summer Party, then participating in a Roundtable on Open Innovation at Cambridge. We’re also trying to arrange an afternoon tea with Tony Blair and hope to spend a little time relaxing — say, punting on the Cambridge.

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