There are so many opinions on this. Yes, cry out the “anti-Facebook” crowd, no says TechCrunch; all the members of Ello are Facebooking about it!
Ello’s founder, Paul Budnitz, says they are receiving 30,000 requests an hour, but in no way did he see Facebook as a competitor. He says Ello is a social network and Facebook is an ad network. Either way, he admits Ello has bugs and needs improving before a full launch.
But now Ello is building big numbers, it’s likely an over-inflated valuation and capital raise will be needed and will undoubtedly put the business under pressure to monetise.
Budnitz says this will come from micro payments for features. It could work. But most users expect free features and I think are immune to ad serves and data collection. If it suits a consumer, they don’t care about the ads being served to them nor very likely care about their data (until it gets hacked).
I was a strong believer that Facebook ads won’t and don’t work, but in truth, I have received so many positive comments about the results Facebook ads have delivered, I have changed my view. They do work as part of the digital promotional mix.
So Ello taking the high ground on ads may be a statement too soon in their story. There are, however, some interesting ways to monetise an audience, as I mentioned in my post about Buzzfeed.
But building the audience first is always the hard part and Ello have scored brilliantly with their PR, whether you are an anti-Facbooker or not. Their message was succinct and has successfully drawn the social media early adopters to the site, judging by the number of sign up requests Ello is receiving.
Making a statement, being exclusive, and being a rebel with a cause (anti-ads, in this case) is definitely the way to swiftly build with the internet crowd.
The fact will still remain, Ello will need money to fix the site up and develop more features. Monetising the crowd will be the requirement to get the funds to do that, and this could be a struggle.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.