About once a week, Michael writes on his companies, technology, his Broadway debut, lawsuits ... basically whatever he feels like. His aptly named "Michael's Minute" started as a forum posting back in the MP3.com days and now reaches an audience of several hundred thousand. And he really writes them all himself! Sign up here for the Michael's Minute.
April 21st, 2016
If you're an online news publisher then Google is not your friend. Neither is Facebook. (No matter how fast articles load.) They want to suck away all content and keep all the advertising money. Google has already achieved much of this and Facebook is not far behind. With the loss of advertisers, many publishers have been lured into slimy clickbait ads, which slow the website and damage the user experience. These clickbait ads used to pollute Google but were banished as Google relied on relevant ads. I want to change this. I want to give publishers a new way to make income. I want them to pull money away from Google and Facebook and back to those who source the news. I want to improve the user experience. This is what I'm hoping to achieve with my new company SolidOpinion.
SolidOpinion adds a Google-like advertising option to the top of the comment section on every published article. Anyone who wants to get a message out to the people reading that article can bid to place a paid comment. This is what we call a promoted comment. If more than one person desires a promoted comment, then the person paying the highest amount prevails. Up to three promoted comments are shown. People buy slots using points they get from the publisher for positive interaction with the site such as creating an account, making comments, getting likes etc., or they can purchase points: 88 for one dollar.
Promoted comments create an entirely new revenue stream for publishers. They sign up in about 10 seconds and get a few lines of code to add to their website. They can choose to add just the promoted comment or use our entire commenting solution, which is the best in the industry. SolidOpinion does all the work after that. We manage the commenting, the bidding process, and all user interactions. (Publishers do set all the rules for their site.) It's 100% free for publishers to get started and there's no monthly fee. Instead we collect revenue from promoted comments and share that with the publisher and keep a portion as our payment.
Free comments aren't going away. In fact they're getting better. Our commenting service is the finest in the industry with incredible features for publishers and users alike. Publishers can reward positive behavior by giving users free points. First time users get points. When people like your comments you get points. Visiting every day accrues points. Users can use those points to promote their comments or others. By making it a point based system it encourages community.
Tribune Publishing is now using SolidOpinion. We're excited to have convinced the 3rd largest news publisher in the US to use our technology. They ditched Facebook comments and now use our entire commenting solution including promoted comments. You can see an example of promoted comments here: sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/apr/17/ucsd-marijuana-sobrietytest/. We've also signed up other publishers like Reason.com.
Comments have been ignored or despised by publishers because they're an expense. Some pay for commenting software and nearly every publisher pays staff to monitor comments. SolidOpinion takes away the expense and generates income. Where companies make money, they're happy to make investments for improvements and that's what you'll see in the comment section.
My goal with SolidOpinion is to help publishers compete with Google and for comments to get better. I want online news outlets to thrive by borrowing a page from Google and selling relevant targeted ads in bite-size amounts. I also want comments to improve because I personally enjoy reading and leaving comments.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. You'll be using SolidOpinion when you do!