Web media veteran Vince Broady believes that social networking can and should be so much better—and that several old school media companies can help.
The former top level executive at both Yahoo and CNET will on Tuesday (June 23) launch thisMoment.com, a new Web site/platform which aims to blend the best of social networking, photo and video sharing, blogging and live communications.
thisMoment is designed to help users capture favorite moments from their lives past and present by creating digital logs—i.e. moments—which can incorporate photo slide shows, video clips and text descriptions. Those moments can then be shared with friends via sites like Facebook and Twitter and through mobile devices, allowing viral growth while eliminating the need for users to sign up and fill out new profile information.
But the real differentiator for thisMoment, according to CEO and founder Broady, is that these users don’t have to populate their various moment’s (such as last weekend’s picnic in the park) with just their own digital assets. Rather, they can pull in assets from across the Web—ranging from amateur photos and videos from sites like Flickr and YouTube to content from professional publishers. The company has signed deals with brands such as The New York Times, Time Inc.’s People.com and Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. Road & Track to supply photo and text assets that can be used freely by thisMoment users.
“The company’s foundation is that people are sharing more and more of their lives online,” said Broady. “Ultimately, the experience is not as good as it should be… You can only do it in pieces.”
To demonstrate thisMoment, Broady used an example from his own life: an outing with his two sons to see several Mad Max movies. Broady created a “moment” on the site dubbed “Boys Night Out” which including a brief description of the night topped by the header “This moment make me feel: excited to be with my boys” (that header appears consistently on every moment created on the site).
Then he created a slide show consisting of photos from the restaurant he took his kids to and the movie theater they visited—both from Flickr. He then mixed in a clip from Road Warrior he found on YouTube and real photo that he took that night.
Couldn’t he have just done this all on Facebook? Not with this seamless, streamlined presentation and layout, argues Broady. “What you can do on thisMoment you can not do this any other place on the Web,” he said. “What we are doing has never been done before.”
For thisMoment’s media partners, which also include Time Inc.’s Lifestyle Group (Sunset, Southern Living, Coastal Living, MyRecipes and Real Simple), the site is a means to drive traffic to their own sites, and eventually to better monetize their own content. Down the road, thisMoment partners will be able to use thisMoment technology to showcase photos and text on their Web sites, and could even sell content on thisMoment through microtransactions.
“We really like what these guys are doing,” said Steve Zales, president, Time Inc. Lifestyle Digital. “Sometimes you need to take a chance on a startup like this. We think this has the potential to really take off. There is a segment of the social media audience really relate to the idea of emotional connections in their lives. And our content is all about those connections: favorite foods, places, etc.”
However, despite its impressive roster of traditional partners, thisMoment still faces the challenge of selling advertising on a site that is very much driven by user-generated content. But Broady argues that in testing the site, users have demonstrated a consistent pattern when building moments that can yield more useful data for advertising than is available for most social networking sites and blogs.
“Vertical sites monetize really well,” he said. “But all these social sites have had a hard time. The difference is that vertical sites have structured information that these sites don’t. Advertisers can’t always make sense of a blog posting.”
But with thisMoment, “you can make sense of [the data] using our technology and match it with commercial offerings,” he added.