Contentonomics: E-Commerce Best Way To Make Money Online

The advertising pie is finite, and consumers don't want to pay for Web subscriptions, says a former broadcaster turned Internet entrepreneur.
The best way for Internet content providers to monetize traffic is by becoming a hub for e-commerce transactions related to their subject matter, according to legendary broadcasting executive David Meister, who is now executive chairman of Wine.TV.

Meister isn't sold on the other two ways of making money online—subscriptions and ad sales. "The subscription model doesn't apply to the Internet" because consumers have become too conditioned to tapping Web content for free. Even The Wall Street Journal, which charges a subscription fee for its online edition, is available free of charge at public library terminals, Meister noted. Individual stories can also be accessed for free through Google News.

As for advertising, "the pie is finite," said Meister. And big consumer brands devote most of their advertising budgets to traditional media, particularly television. Meister knows what he's talking about. Over the course of his storied career, Meister ran The Tennis Channel, created The Sundance Channel, launched Cinemax while working as an executive at HBO and was head of broadcasting for Major League Baseball.

Meister was speaking at's Contentonomics conference in Los Angeles.

Advertisers and marketers only have so much money to spread around and "don't need a new medium" for ad buys, said Meister. The real opportunity for online content providers, he said, "is e-commerce."

With that in mind, Meister is launching Wine.TV, which will feature wine-related programming on its Web site and will distribute related video content to cable broadcasters and Internet publishers. The content will be packaged in such a way that viewers will be able to easily purchase featured products, with Wine.TV getting a cut.

"The content will push people to the Web site," said Meister. "If you can't get your content out to places where people will see it, it's useless," he added.

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