The Internet of Vertical Content

A great deal of editorial ink has been spilled recently about IoT, the “Internet of Things.” However, just as interesting is the what we call the “Internet of Content.” (We hereby lay claim to the new buzzword).

The IoC is coalescing into several layers. The most visible is the video layer. For years, traditional content owners such as the TV, the movie studios, and the gaming company worried about how to protect their property from theft and piracy. Lately, however, content is increasingly being created on the Internet for the Internet, as the success of Netflix with “House of Cards,” HBO with “Game of Thrones,” and the explosion of MMPORGs and mobile gaming systems demonstrate. Over the next several years, traditional entertainment venues will continue to undergo disruption and more and more content will be layered on the Cloud.

Another layer of content that is unique to the Internet has been created by the massive social interaction that takes place on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Much of this content is self-referential (obviously), but future social archaeologists trying to understand what drove our society during this era will find it a treasure trove. And right now, you can’t interact in business and even in some social venues unless you belong to a social network.

In contrast with the broad content layer categories mentioned above is another, which we call the Internet of Vertical or Niche Content. The content this layer contains can run the gamut from specialized databases, event calendars, and context-specific image-bases to video collections. What characterizes this type of content is that while it my address a narrow market, within that market there is strong interest in that content and wide understanding of its value.

Monetizing Content

Since the idea of “content marketing” became one of the industry’s major buzzwords, the problem of making money off of content has been a constant challenge. The challenge facing entertainment layer content marketers are straightforward. Build content and often high or very high expense for large audiences. High risk, high reward.

The problem facing monetizing the social layer content is while the amount of content created is huge, most markets for it are tiny (sometimes limited to single person, such as a spouse, child, or parent). Thus, the content platform is constantly faced with the problem of “intruding” into the social interact and attempting to distract platform users with ads. All the content platform makers claim they try to provide “relevant” content, but as Facebook is finding, that’s not that easy to do.

Niche content providers often have it easier than the social or entertainment folks. While markets aren’t as big, they tend to be highly self-qualified and the content value doesn’t need to be explained in any great depth nor is it regarded as intrusive. As we looked into the various content strategies and providers, we decided to sit down with Steve Morgan of Menlo Park Ventures to discuss the universe of niche content.

Steve, please provide us some background on Menlo Park.

I founded Menlo Park Ventures in May 1999 with the goal of building contact data apps online. In early 2001 we built and launched our first app,, the #1 job board for software and technology sales careers at the time. The service zoomed from pure start-up to $1M in revenues in under 18 months with no outside funding. In mid-2002 we launched the popular CardBrowser app, an online contact information service with a global customer base. This app has generated millions of dollars in revenues with no outside funding.

In late 2012 we reorganized our company to build Apps for our customers who wanted to leverage our knowledge and technology to compile and sell their own contact and content data in the cloud. Our vision is based on vertical content with quality much more important than quantity, simple management and provisioning, with syndication and distribution built into the model.

What is your monetization strategy?

How do we make money? We monetize the calendar by licensing it to media publishers, associations, event producers, vendors, and others in the tech community – who can then feature the calendar on their websites and blogs. The model also allows use licensees to private label, market and sell the calendar. Another example of this is our CISO 500. That’s a directory of the Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) at Fortune 500 corporations. it is a password protected web database and we sell subscription-based access.

One of our most interesting new products is in the calendar industry. We found a simple void–there is just not one calendar or directory that lists anywhere near all of the trade shows and conferences (live venues) for the tech industry. There are so many people who benefit from having a true master listing of events in our industry. CMOs and event managers can really examine what are the event possibilities for them to sponsor, exhibit, speak etc. CIOs, IT Executives, Business Managers, and others can really examine what are the best venues for them to meet vendors, evaluate new technologies, and get a birds-eye view of the solutions they are considering for their companies.

Softletter can speak about that from personal experience. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea to have an event’s calendar on their website, regardless of their industry. They put it up, put one or two entries into the calendar, and never go near it again.

Exactly. We’ve all seen those empty event calendars. They’re an eyesore. And even for the event producers themselves, it gives them a dose of reality around what is really out there. Sales and marketing execs love the calendar, because who doesn’t want to go to a good trade show and network. To our surprise (and pleasure) The Technology Events Calendar has become the #1 global search engine and directory of technology trade shows and conferences.

How do you implement the calendar on a site?

We have productized the calendar so that it can be easily distributed to other websites. We provide a single line of javascript code that can be pasted on to a page on any website or blog. The code auto-senses a website theme, fonts, and colors, and displays looking like it was made for that site. It only takes a few minutes to add the calendar to a website or blog, no technical work required.

Where can someone see the custom private calendar in action?

Your readers can visit SC Magazine. They’re in a very high growth market – cybersecurity – which is expected to grow to $120 Billion by 2017. Our calendar runs on their site – just click Events to see it. They licensed the calendar from us and they also have rights to distribute it to others. If you look at their calendar it only has the cybersecurity events on it – and it is a very high value app for their market.

The free private label web page also has links to the Gold, Platinum, and Diamond private label versions of the calendar – which provides companies with a custom private label that has their own name on the calendar, events specific to a particular technology sector or industry vertical, and a marketing program that drives traffic to their calendar. You can find out more here

Menlo Park Ventures also offers a licensing program for entrepreneurs, marketers, and media publishers who are interested in their own version of the calendar, and rights to distribute to custom markets. To learn more, go here:

We see a tremendous opportunity in branded vertical content apps such as the calendar. Just within this niche there are so many sectors and verticals that there are so many variations of the calendar we expect to develop for others, including geographic-specific versions in the U.S. and Internationally — and then venturing in to new industries such as Biotech and others.

Contact info: Steven Morgan at: [email protected].

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