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Apply HN: Natural advertising for small businesses and personal websites
2 points by fiatjaf on Apr 9, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments
Problem: Advertising is hard and is getting harder as more money is spent on internet advertising. At the same time, ad blockers are quickly spreading and maybe will soon kill all the sources of advertising, bad for personal websites, bad for small companies using Adwords.

Solution: Think affiliate marketing. Now think manual advertising contracts. This service would combine these two to get some level of automation in the process.

How would it work?

(Imagine this service is hosted at natural.com, which is obviously not true). A blogger writes about the topic of fishing for beginner fishers. He talks about things the wannabe fishers must buy and places they must go. Every time he talks about a product, he puts a link to natural.com/<product-name>, or when he talks about a place, he can use something like natural.com/<place>, maybe he can also create more complex link patterns, but let's stick to these for now. These links are going to redirect the clicker.

Advertisers would bid for these pre-placed links. Read the rest of the example at https://gist.github.com/fiatjaf/10e61297e060373fabf4ee1cc2f1ad16, because HN has a character limit. Only two paragraphs more, but doesn't matter. They key ideas are here.

Other markets where this could clearly work: food blogs; programming blogs; travel blogs; hack-your-life sites; personal development blogs; clothing and fashion blogs; any blog or site about hobbies or practices like yoga, painting, martial arts, hunting etc.

Progress: No progress at all. I realize the network-effect of this thing is damn hard to beat, but at the same time it is something that I see working in small scale, so it is probably doable.

Market: Bloggers; small business; local, non-tech small businesses. Later, big companies that sell a lot of different things, big content websites (newspapers, magazines etc.).

Team: One developer with many ideas, this one being the only one hard enough to be worth posting here.

OK, let me try to paraphrase your idea:

The traditional internet advertising model sucks. But if I'm reading an article by somebody who recommends a product, I am much more likely to want to click on a link based on their recommendation. I can get the product and the writer can get paid for that link. Your site will be the broker for these ads, with a focus on simplicity.

I get this, I think it's reasonable that people would want to sell those ads and I can imagine clicking on those links sometimes.

To get started you should just go talk to some bloggers who already promote products, and offer them to swap the link and get paid for it. A lot of them are probably already using Amazon affiliate links, so you may want to offer more money, or find people who aren't using Amazon.

I think you got it better than me.

Sounds similar to other content-targeting ad networks. There's even one (or a few) that will inject links into the body of text with ads. How will you beat these established players?

I had forgotten about these. But they are artificial and sound artificial. People who are more used to browsing the internet don't trust them and don't click on them.

What stops a company like bitly from doing something like this? How would you compete with them?

What stops Google?

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