In a few days Flip.com launches. It'll be a great experiment. A very interesting experiment into the power of social media and marketing in this "new age" of user driven leadership.
Of course, for Condé Nast Flip.com is not an experiment. It's a business. One that they hope will succeed. It was only a few days ago that I found myself writing about Condé Nast's Stylefinder.com as a fashionable sister to Reddit. I do wonder if Reddit's lack of style embarrasses the sisters. If you scroll to the bottom of Flip.com (currently in holding page phase) you'll see that the social news site is missing from the list of sister brands.
I like Flip. It's going to be a like MySpace however there's a lot of clever marketing going on. Even with something basic like the banner slot Flip.com is different. As the girls sign up to Flip.com they're allowed to pick and target advertisers who will appear on their Flipbook. Don't like H&M as a brand? Not posh enough for you? Then you'll not let them advertise on your Flipbook.
Oh yeah; Flip.com greatly interests this search marketer but the real target demographics are teenage girls. All too often, teenage girls are too smart for their (and our) own good.
The best bits of Flip and CondéNet's experiement (sorry, business model) is the almost guerilla use of content. There is free image content on Flip. The girls get to scoop up this content and add whatever they like to their Flipbooks. The girls get to show off by having the best Flipbook.
The content is supplied by the advertisers. It's not branded. There's not even a logo. They're simply trying to make fashion merchandise cool. They're trying to get the girls interested. CondéNet charges the advertisers for the honour of supplying content.
It gets better and braver. The girls get to vandalise the images as much as they want. As a Flip.com user you're allowed to scrawl "this sucks!" over anything you want in your Flipbook.
Mike Shields over at Mediaweek has a source which suggests advertisers may be paying between $300,000 and $500,000 per content package.
Some people close to the project are talking. Jessica Ulin from OMD (sister agency of PHD, part of the Omnicom family) who deals with Johnson & Johnson's Clean & Clear has described the approach as the holy grail. In fact, Ulin and I seem to agree that this is an experiment.
“Advertisers are experimenting in speaking to girls in a way they want to be spoken to,”
“The way that advertising is woven into the site is pretty unique,”
“It’s all self-selected. It makes for a more qualified viewer. It’s really the holy grail, when a user identifies with a brand so much.”
As usual I'm left to hope that search engine optimisation and PPC have been thought about from the outset. Flip will use Flash and that's tricky.
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