What an interesting development (also covered on Nick Denton’s blog).
While paying for bloggers to effectively run online maga/fan/niche-zines was a great idea, the question was always around scale. Nick’s business model was neat and, where the personality and chosen niche gelled together the compelling read could easily turn a nice profit (where ad revenue > cost of blogger). One would always be at risk of said blogger being poached or going solo (as happened), but the clear niche for Gizmodo, the momentum behind it and a swift, good replacement covered that nicely.
The next question was enhancing the commercial model. There were forays into paid/sponsored content, or getting closer into bed with advertisers, but these sit uncomfortably with the open, “part of the community”, blogger approach.
The current link with VNU is therefore a neat change. Nick gets distribution (and free translation!). Good brand extension. Syndication, in a word. VNU gets some cobwebs blasted off its offerings in this area and hopefully lots of names and addresses so they can sell subscriptions to them when they have their work hats on.
Nick hasn’t anything to lose: hell, anyone could have copied/linked to the blog anyway! VNU gets to see whether these micro, difficult to manage “communities” have any point. I wonder whether they’ll manage to find a way of making supplier/advertiser support more palatable?
I also wonder of course how the sk8tr-boi geek patois of Gizmodo will translate into French or Italian… If only my French were good enough to be able to tell!
This move shows that Nick is still combining learnings from publishing, especially syndication, with a good ‘nose for a niche’ and an eye (ear?) for a deal.