Bruce Rogers VP Marketing over at Forbes phoned me up about my Blog (see below) on their new streamed headlines to desktop offering. Turns out they launched this as a limited test about 60 days ago, only a portion of the 4.8 million monthly visitors to Forbes.com get the pop-up offering them the feed.
So far 50,000 people have accepted the offer and downloaded the feed to their desktop. Bruce couldn't give me exact data on what sort of clickthrough rate these headlines get, but he's "happy." I asked him to see if it's very different from clicks on story links in Forbes email newsletters and he said he'd look into it.
Forbes' ad sales team have been bugging him to see if they can sell text links through the system, but Rogers says he's keeping it very non-commercial for now. "I want it to be as non-promotional as possible; the whole point is our currency is page views at the end of the day."
However, I bet this may change in time because I keep hearing media buyers rave about text links as the hot ad unit now. I've heard other sites, such as SportingNews.com, are considering selling sponsor links in their desktop headline feeds.
Anyway, desktop apps are turning into the BIG content trend for the second half of 2003. Bigger, I think ultimately, from a potential revenue standpoint than Blogs and contextual PPC ads (Adsense etc.). Bruce says, "Desktop apps are the gotta-have this week. The real trial is, is it worth the effort to add incremental traffic?"
He also notes, this is no ordinary incremental traffic. The people who download your app are the true believers, the inner core, the brand evangelists. Each one may be worth dozens of hundreds of clicks from a relative stranger. As sites get beyond commodity ad sales by proving their audience is "better" than competitors', this loyal core may make a difference.
Bruce says be prepared for some customer service problems. "I got an I Hate You note today. It's a small percent, but nevertheless very loud." Turns out a handful of people forgot they downloaded the app and now think Forbes is desktop-app-spamming them. Also, some people will blame your app for other people's pop-unders.
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