Just got back from the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in Orlando and have to say that I really had a blast this time compared to others. I was also smart enough to attent the after parties this time and make some very very good and influential contacts.
For those that don't know, T.R.A.F.F.I.C conferences concern the Domain monetization industry wich on one hand deals with parking domains and on the other looks at domain as real estate. Very interesting thing if you hadn't considered it. As a matter of fact, it was a world completely alien to me until the Las Vegas event a number of months back. Now being "in" it, there is a good deal of opportunity regardless of the nature of the business being very much "in flux".
One very interesting personal realization was/is that SEO really isn't BS.I developed a negative attituded towards it about 4 years back as many (most) of the supposed SEO specialists I bumped into tended to be blow hards. After that, I got tired of listening to their crap and shut down to the entire community. Wel......, I was wrong to do that. Two very, very good companies that I've come across as of late are SEOP (seop.com) and webcastone.com. Rick Waters, the CEO for Webcast One is a great guy that is both exceptionally nice and exceptionally knowledgable.
Now I will say that I think there is an area that nobody has yet really learned how to take advantage of: Social Networking. On the last day of the conference, I suspsect I stumped the CEO's of SEOP and Webcast One when I asked how Social Networking will continue to play a role and/or grow in the activities of major SEO operators and efforts. While they acknowledged that it was a good question, it also stumped 'em. You could see the question marks painted on their faces and the eys pointing upwards and darting about.
After chatting with some of these guys later, I do believe they are sufferring from the industry view of how to make money. Too much focus on existing models like PPC and derivatives. It's my opinion that those do/will provide greater short term gain and will, depending on the site they are used on, be sustaining. However, they WILL NOT EVER HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF A WELL CRAFTED SOCIAL NETWORK OR COMMUNITY! Now perhaps that's a bold thing to say, but it's not without a foundation of observation from the likes of Joel Spolsky, Clay Shirky, and Neal Stephenson.
Now depending on how one aggregates these thoughts mentally, this could be a bit of leap, but my experience tells and suspicions tell me otherwise.
Another killer thing about this community building model is that it's future proof against the disapperance of a PPC revenue stream.
It's all simple really. Advertisers will go where the people are. Real successfull online communities tend to have a lot of people no? And if you think advertisers aren't willing to spend some dosh where the hordes of people regularly (like highways) then you aren't paying attention or the inside of your box is a little too comfortable.
Want an example of an ad driven site that's doing well? Toms Hardware.
One last observation along these lines. I suspect that the term "Social Network" brings to mind visions of bonehead predators, vacuous coeds with tawdry myspace pages, and Pink Razor carrying bimbettes. And if it's not something like that, then Twitter or Facebook or whatever. The reality of those types of networks is they are networks for the sake of being networks as opposed to being centered a particular topic or area(s) of common interested.
At least Ning differs in this way.
Anyway, it was a good show and I certainly hope to get up to New York or Australia for one of the next shows.