Over the last couple of days, PaidContent has noted that both MTV and Yahoo have announced oddly similar-sounding projects. MTV plans to release at least 20 “hyper-programmed experiences” (that’s small, themed, targeted Web sites to you and me), and Yahoo will be building about 100 “brand universes” around specific products or properties (that’s small, themed, targeted Web sites to you and me).
In the Yahoo post Rafat Ali made the insightful observation that “small, themed, targeted Web sites” could also be read as “new inventory for targeted ad serving.”
It’s an interesting point. At least some definitions of Web 2.0 include a lot of elements that are steadily grinding away at our old familiar pageviews = revenue equation: the rise of RSS as a distribution mechanism, explicitly social software as a mechanism for aggregation and discovery of content out of its original context…even ajax does its little part to chip away at on-site page views.
How do you compete when people are spending less time navigating through your site structure (mmmm…ad impressions) to find the information they want, because they have ever better tools to let them know exactly where to find what’s interesting to them?
It sounds to me like some of the big guys are taking a very interesting approach and trying out mayfly content: it’s small, it’s of the moment, it’s out there quickly, and it’s expected to die soon. This certainly won’t replace building out their core Web properties based on longer-term stragegies, but it’s a reasonable approach to taking advantage of the increasingly volatile nature of traffic on the internet: gather ye pageviews while ye may.