This next model is again in the spirit of forwarding consumers from one place to another against a certain fee. It is not based on advertising but on promoting of related content.
There are hundreds of websites that need their content to reach as bigger audience as possible for a short time in order to break onto the market. To make this they use networks for content promotion. On the other hand, these networks have owners of blogs and websites that wish to promote the content in question against a certain payment. Usually, this is done by placing a few lines of code, provided by the content promotion system, on your website. Often this code is placed under or next to each article and these positions start showing other articles, related to the topic, with photos, text, and a brief description. They look identical to your design but they are provided by external sources.
In the best case scenario, these systems recognize the topic of the article to which the promoted articles will be shown and automatically offer other targeted articles. For instance, if the consumer opens an article dedicated to dieting, the promoted articles will be connected with obesity, weight-loss herbs, low-calorie recipes, and others. The purpose is to attract consumers’ attention and encourage them to click on one of these articles, and if possible – on more than one of them. Each click earns you money under a tariff similar to that of Google AdSense. In this case, the systems are not managed by Google (for now), as Taboola and Outbrain are currently the biggest players on this market. These systems are so popular that they are already used by global giants, such as CNN, NBC, and Eurosport.
The expected revenue may vary between $0.37 and$1.12 per 1,000 impressions or between $370 or $1,120 per one million impressions. You should know that achieving one million impressions is not as impossible in online business as it seems. In case you have a media website or a blog, it may support itself from CPM and CPC banner advertising and you can also add the promoted content to the general palette.
The only shortcoming with the promoted content is that you lose consumers. If your goal is to keep the consumer on your website (for one reason or another), the promoted content and the banners aim at snatching their attention away, making them leave your website and enter another one. That is why I do not recommend you to place such distracting elements in your online store because instead of buying the products you sell, the consumer may accidentally see a banner of a rival company’s product, offered at a better price or in better color, and thus you may lose a sale for hundreds of dollars just to earn a few cents.
On the edge of the law
Many people think that everything is free on the internet and that the laws can be broken easily or that they are not even valid in the virtual space. For better or for worse, this is not true. The laws that are valid in your country are also valid on the internet and that is why texts regulating concrete relations between traders, suppliers, and consumers of the internet are more and more often displayed on the internet.
The law on copyright and related rights is the most frequently violated law in the world. Often the website owners violate this law without even being aware of it, and that is why lately it has turned into a common practice. However, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
Many people start their websites by copying content from other websites. This way, without making any investments and without paying a single penny to the authors for their texts, entrepreneurs get a free ride on the efforts of tens of authors and obtain original content, the creation of which would have taken months or even years, in just a couple of days. In my practice, I have argued with tens of entrepreneurs, who have decided to copy my lifelong work and make money on my back. Here are some of the myths on the issue:
“It is not explicitly stated that I cannot copy the content so I can copy it” – This is absolutely wrong. It is not allowed to copy and reprint any original text without the approval of its author. It is not necessary to have such a warning above or under each text. Imagine how you copy and publish a Stephen King novel instead of him just because you have not seen a text prohibiting you from doing so anywhere. Before you even think of opposing that “it is not the same”, I will interrupt you because it is just the same thing. It does not matter whether it is about an article or a book, about an unknown author from the small village of Moneymore or Stephen King, there is no difference.
“I have indicated/made reference to the author, so I do not violate any rules” – If we continue with the Stephen King example and his book that you have illegally published, do you think that citing the author will solve the copyright problem? Of course, citing the author is not enough to consider that the website is not violating their rights. If the author has their own website through which they are making money in one way or another, every consumer that reads the article on the pirate website will cause a loss at the expense of the original website because the author will get fewer impressions, fewer clicks on the banners, or lower sales.
“Since I have cited the author, this is a quotation that is allowed under the law” – This is an excuse that is often used by the active mediocrity – people, who are not lawyers but have watched many movies and morning talks shows and have their own notion about the laws. The citing of the text is allowed under the law without the explicit approval of the author but the quotation means copying a relatively small part of certain text and for a specific purpose. One to one copying of a whole article cannot be justified as a quotation.
What the consequences may be: Depending on the number of articles and the harm caused, you may not only say goodbye to your website but you may even have to pay compensation to the owner, the size of which is hard to tell in advance but it will definitely top the price you would have paid for the copyright and the legal publishing of the original texts.
The theft of pictures is identical to the theft of articles. However, it is much more frequent because websites generally steal texts in their own language, while when it comes to pictures, there is no language barrier and they can be stolen on a global scale. It is not by chance that you can see one and the same picture in hundreds of websites, magazines, or billboards all over the world, while the author has not received a single penny for their work. Here again, the local folklore has come up with certain unspoken mythical rules:
“I found it on Google so I can use it” – Finding certain photos on Google Images does not mean that they are available for free use and publishing. To see whether you can use them or not, you should visit the website they come from and read its terms and conditions for use.
“It is impossible for an American to find out that I have used their photo” – This used to be true until recently because there were almost zero chances for someone to browse the whole internet searching for their original photos. Google can do it though. Not only it can but it really does it through Google Images where you can make a test and upload one of your photos and see how many websites Google will find it in.
“If I edit the photo a little bit, it will no longer be the same, so I can use it freely” – Google’s algorithm recognizes identical photos even if you have cropped just a piece of it, changed the color, turned it upside down, or put text over it. Under the copyright law, all of the aforementioned are illegal, too.
“How can anyone prove that they are the one, who has taken the photo, and not me” – In the past, we used to have negatives that could easily prove the author of the photo. Nowadays the photos are digital and instead of making it more difficult, it makes the proving of copyrights easier than ever. There is EXIF information to every photo taken, which includes speed of capturing of the photo, the blend, ISO, focal length, GSP coordinates (if the photographer uses this option), serial number of the camera. If I upload a photo on my website and it is resized, the data will not be available in the graphics file. Everyone, who copies it, has a copy of my photo but not the original – this way I can easily prove the ownership of the photo in question.
The problem with the copyright of photos can be solved by using some of the numerous websites where you can legally buy a photo or use some of those offered for free. The price of the photos varies from just a few cents to tens of dollars, depending on what kind of photo you need, the size and the quality. You rarely need to use the most expensive formats for a website. These photos are aimed at people, who want to use the photo in print edition or outdoor advertising when the quality of the file is very important.
Another option is to invest a small sum of money in the purchase of a digital camera. Nowadays, even the cheapest cameras offer really high quality that is more than sufficient for internet use. The investment in equipment, however, goes along with investment of time in taking the needed photos.
Whether, how many, and what kind of photos you need for the website depends on its type. If you launch an online store for equipment or books, for instance, you do not need such an investment because the websites of the producers or publishers can download high-quality photos of the products for you – this is done with the purpose to ease the sale process, which you are involved in. If you have a media website, you will definitely need photos for each article you publish so as to bring some life into it, certain pleasant emotion, and the photos are also used to grab the attention of consumers, who do not have the habit of reading everything on a website. Without even looking at the headline, many consumers open an article provoked by the photo attached to it.
Ignorance of the law
Ignorance of the law in the field you are going to deal with is an issue you should solve before you start any kind of internet business. This includes knowledge in the legislation on electronic trade, consumer protection, VAT, and copyright. Depending on your business field, you may need to get acquainted with more laws and regulations, which will help you organize your activities.
Deliberate violation of the law
There are many websites that deliberately violate the law or are on the brink of it. Most often this happens by providing access to music, movies, and books with unsettled copyrights, or by providing illegal gambling activity. According to Interpol investigations, these types of websites make serious profit but the risk they take with such an activity is huge. Just like with criminal activities in the real world, taking up and conquering territories in such a field online is not an easy task for anyone. If you can make an ordinary website for $200 or $2,000, the maintenance of a torrent tracker will require much bigger investment in hardware, knowledge of laws of the EU and its member states, as well as those of third countries.
The reason is that the maintenance of such websites turns into a constant race against the regulatory authorities – constant arrests, confiscation of equipment, cutting off the internet connection to the server, and so on. Often the servers are moved from one country to another until a favorable climate for development is found. There is a need to use tens of loopholes in the legislation and international agreements so as to survive for a few more months.
The Pirate Bay, the world biggest website for distribution of digital content with violated rights (movies, music, books), recently announced that it planned to stop shifting its servers from one country to another to avoid the local legislation. What it plans to do is as absurd as it is genius – the servers will be positioned on unmanned aircraft drones, which will fly over “no man’s land”. This way the machines will be untouchable because the transmission is not done from any concrete country and there is no concrete service to have the jurisdiction to confiscate the equipment.
If you are not a criminal in real life, you better not try being such on the internet because you will be surprised how soon you will hear the authorities knocking on your door.