Keynote with Bob Brisco of Internet Brands

November 12, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

pubconHelllooo, party people. You still with me?  We up and alert today?  I hope so! It’s Day 3 of PubCon and we have some hot keynote goodness coming up.  This time around we have Bob Brisco of Internet Brands, Inc.  Not totally sure what Internet Brands does but I think we’re about to find out.

Grab some orange juice or something. I did.

The question he’s asked most, “So, will you buy my Web site?”    When someone asked you that, you have to think about how much it’s worth. Valuation is a really tricky part of what we do on the Internet.  He can’t tell us what he’d pay for a Web site (drat), but he will tell us how they come up with that number and what they look at.

First off all, what does Internet Brands do? His company builds a platform that hosts Web sites, builds traffic, does optimization, etc. They put about 100 major Web  properties on it so far. Their sites get about 50 million uniques a month.   There are principles that unify everything they’ve done with the company.

Bob shares some pretty awesome (if not, depressing) stats:

All publicly and privately traded Internet companies equal about $350 billion in value. If you stack up all other media in the world, it’s worth LESS than that number. The Internet is now more valuable than anything else.  Of that $350 billion, HALF of it is Google. [Hi. Terrifying.]

Search represents 55 percent of the Internet valuation, followed by Commerce (20 percent), Content (15 percent), Social Media (5 percent), Everything Else (5 percent).

About 56 percent of all Internet visits are to pages dominated by user generated content. The money is flowing where there is commercial intent around the content.

What makes a successful Web site? He says that WE are the WINNERS! I’m telling my mom! 50 million people worldwide have attempted to start an Internet business.  96 percent have failed and abandoned it completely. Only 1 in 200 the two million people trying to make a living on the Internet make more than $50,000 in income.   Only 1 in 600 make more than $250,000 a year.  One in 2,000 make more than $1 million.

Only 40 percent of sites are still successful after five years. [These are the most depressing stats ever.]

5 Factors to being successful on the Web

  1. Focus
  2. Uniqueness
  3. Community
  4. Content
  5. Monetization
  6. Passion (Wildcard)

Why is passion so important?  They think it’s the most important thing on the list. It’s so competitive to stay ahead that you have to work the problem harder and smarter. All the category leaders they’ve looked up have updated their business model more than once. You have to be current on where your users and advertisers are going.

Sites they own:

  • – about fashion models.   They get 2,000 applicants a day – includes an essay on why you should be admitted to the site. Of the 2,000, 70 percent are declined. You have be juryed in by 10 moderators in order to be allowed in the community. They have very rigorous criteria to get in.
  • FlyerTalk – community about heavy travelers.  More help on this site than any he’s seen. The airlines are very engaged with these customers. They’ve built a really great community. He says its the best one he’s ever seen. There are 80 moderators and there’s a 3 year waiting list to get in. Self-governance, if you can do it, is the best way to go. It’s the way you preserve the passion over long periods of time.

With all the sites that you have going on, how do you keep your focus on any particular one?

Their organization is built into category-based teams. Each category has a team leader. They do a matrix structure. To get the laser-like focus it requires talented general management.  It’s been one of the most intense pieces to work out in the business model.

What does “the people’s Internet” entail?

To capture Web sites that are either not corporately owned or not heavily backed. It’s a business that “a normal person” set up.  They’re thinking of things that started as sole proprietorship or a couple of partners without venture money.

Bob then invites 10 people on the stage with either Blackberry’s or iPhones to break the Google black box. Or something.  Then some other guy comes out. I think he’s a magician. He’s talking like a magician.  We’re playing the “We’ve never met before, right?” game.

He makes audience member pull up on a laptop.  The audience member’s name is Sanjay Sabnani. Two other people have to think of a subject.  The “people at home” (I think he means us) are supposed to be thinking, as well.     The subject is algebra.

We do a search for, “what is Sanjay Sabnani thinking of”. We hit Search and Google shows us lots of algebra-related queries.  The magician (I’m calling him that now) asks Sanjay who Deena is. Naturally, Deena is his sister.  Sanjay doesn’t look impressed.  I’m not really impressed myself.

Another audience member has to think of a celebrity – he says Peyton Manning. I argue that Peyton Manning isn’t ACTUALLY celebrity.  We ask Google what Alex D. Baker is thinking of.  It shows images of Peyton Manning. WHAT IS GOING ON?

Now he’s making a cigarette float. I am rolling my eyes and sighing like you would not believe.  He’s trying to get the cigarette in this mouth. I’d help him if it meant this would end soon.  Now we’re doing optical illusions.

I’m done.

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