Glassdoor’s Conundrum : Making Clear the Ad Revenue Model Challenge

Tonight Glassdoor is coming out of stealth, and it is being reported / reviewed here and here.  Founded by the team that brought Zillow and Expedia, Glassdoor has a strong team and clear mission–bring transparency to salaries, management, and work environments.

Now first off, as someone who submitted a review for my work at MSFT, and who has played around on the site, I think Glassdoor is a strong concept and it’s executed well.  At it’s core, Glassdoor is a super useful site.  It’s easy to see prospective hires, current employees and managers coming to use and rely on their stuff in a heartbeat.  Heck, when I was at MSFT, we used surveys like this all the time to work to suss out how things were going.  So Glassdoor’s great for users, no question.

The question though is this: how will Glassdoor be great for advertisers, their stated model?  This is something I’m skeptical about.  While Glassdoor will get eyeballs, the issue is that they’ll get eyeballs that are highly motivated for the information they’re getting.  You’re not going to be able to get me tempted with the equivalent of a Lending Tree ad when I’m looking at Zillow when I’m looking at Glassdoor.

It might be that they’ll make classified of specific jobs open, and then maybe that’s fine, but I view that as something of a stretch.  The reason I say this is that this information will be pretty personal–people will look at it and have a reaction.  They’ll want to learn more, they’ll click around to other comments and so on.  My personal sense is that as people get deeper into the great data and content that Glassdoor makes available, they’re going to be increasingly less interested in clicking on an ad.

And this is what highlights the conundrum of ad revenue models in a Social Media world.  It seems to me that as we get more and more content that is stronger and stronger, its as if the content is getting more surgical.  I got to this site when I need this information, and only when I need this information.  When I am there, I’m not going to be easily distracted.  Thus I’m going to be a crumby advertising customer as I’m going to be focused in on whether I’m getting paid right or whether people think I’m a good manager or whatever.

Alternatively, when I go to a site like LinkedIn, for example, I’m a little more flexible–I’ve got a bunch fo stuff I might be looking at.  What friends are up to, who has new connections, etc.  Here I’m wandering, I’m way more likely to go to an advertisement.

I’ve talked before about the need for advertisers to innovate around social media and what that’s going to mean for big brands.  With very useful and surgically targeted data like Glassdoor, advertisers will gain great content and captivated eyeballs–it will be an interesting challenge to see whether these eyeballs can be harvested into viable advertising dollars.

I wish Glassdoor the best with their service–it’s useful.  It’ll be interesting to watch how advertisers work with it.



Filed under entrepreneurship, internet, technology

4 responses to “Glassdoor’s Conundrum : Making Clear the Ad Revenue Model Challenge

  1. Shelly Lennon has been doing the same trick for a longer period of time I suspect

  2. fair enough, tho in my experience in the tech biz first is only sometimes relevant.

    things can change fast, and with information and data like this, the winner will be the site with the most accurate, detailed, and relevant data. there will likely also be some benefit to the site that gets the most snarky / funny quotes.

  3. Pingback: Startup Comparison - GlassDoor Beats Telonu and JobVent | The ChubbyBlog

  4. Pingback: A Conversation with Tim Besse, Co-Founder of Glassdoor | The ChubbyBlog

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