Social networking sites are one of the hottest growth areas in e-commerce. The number of users who have signed up and created social networking profiles literally numbers in the hundreds of millions. Obviously, the revenue opportunities of social networking domains are enormous.
While the profit potential of social networking domains is great, it is apparent that users don't wish to pay subscription fees to access such sites. Users expect that the site's major features, games, and activities, be free to all. There is plenty of room to grow in niche social networks, which target people with similar interests, whether entertainment, travel, health, weight loss, music, or more, the possibilities are endless. With niche networking domains, comes the possibility of more targeted advertising, or of social networking sites including online stores where products related to their niche topic can be purchased.
Analysts have noted that for many younger Internet users, social networking sites are the most important aspect of online life. As these users associate social networking with their early use of the Internet, they are likely to continue to use social networks in later years, indicating that social networking domains, far from being a passing fad, are long term investments for companies wishing to target large demographic groups.
As broadband becomes increasingly affordable, media sites are becoming very real money making opportunities. Free access, ad-sponsored media sites are enjoying a great deal of success in the current market, whether the content is streaming video, Flash entertainment and games, or Internet radio. For example, the success of video-sharing website Youtube.com indicates how popular streaming media services are amongst web surfers.
Rather than undergo the costs of broadcasting licensed material, networking domains of all sizes are increasingly producing their own material. One of the most popular formats for self-produced material is the podcast. A podcast is a regularly produced video segment, and like blogs, can focus on a specific topic or range widely in topic from one broadcast to the next. The success of podcasts for media networking domains depends on the quality of the media offered. Advertising on a streaming media podcast is usually kept short, appearing either just before the beginning of the podcast or immediately after the broadcast. On-site ad space can be sold in addition to in-broadcast ad slots.
Flash media is also influencing the current generation of entertainment and gaming domains. Flash media animations and games are attracting visitors to websites in increasing numbers. The primary targets for Flash media are younger web users, especially teenagers who appreciate the irreverent and zany humor so common in Flash-based media. There are frequently opportunities for retail products associated with the content of the sites in these cases as well.
If you are considering starting a media or networking domain, ad-sponsored media entertainment offers a simpler business model than for-pay and subscription media outlets. This is due to the fact that creators do not have the overhead associated with maintaining and securing a subscription service.
Site retention is one of the challenges many online businesses face. The longer a user remains on a website, the more chance that he or she will purchase a product or follow an advertisement link. If you cannot grab your target audience's interest within the first few seconds, they'll surf off somewhere else, and the chance for that all important click through is lost.
Content has always been considered the most vital ingredient for creating the site "stickiness" needed to keep viewers on a networking domain long enough to potentially interact with advertisements. The more relevant content you offer, the theory goes, the longer people will visit your site.
Increasingly, online consumers are demanding more from a site than just information. Even the way content is presented has changed. Podcasts and video material is becoming increasingly common within social networking domains, and the more interactive elements offered on a site, the stickier the networking domain becomes.
Games and activities are perhaps the most obvious interactive elements that attract people to sites and keep them there. Games aren't appropriate for every site, however, and many business networking domains would look very unprofessional if they included games. In such cases, interactive web site features need to be topic appropriate and helpful, such as video tutorials, quizzes, customizable news feeds, and other features that support the networking domain's main theme.
The goal is to design interactive content that fits with the networking domain theme and predisposes users to click through the paid for advertisements, thereby driving revenue to your pocket.