Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Think Tank: EntreCard And The New Blog-Based Economy (I)

The social networking-advertising site EntreCard [of which I am a member] has made great strides since its introduction late last year. There are currently some five thousand members, and current 'Card users have created a fund of 30, 000 EC credits to induce new enrollment. The requirements to join are very simple; a blog "of quality" [a description which, for the most part, actually fits], and a visual "card", which must be 125 x 125 pixels. The program gives users the opportunity to promote their blogs by purchasing "ad space" [for want of a better term] on other member blogs. The purchase medium is EC credits, mainly earned by visiting other EC bloggers' web sites, and clicking on a widget that holds an EC ad. Other ways to acquire credits include winning them in regularly-held drawings, usually sponsored by EC members who have mastered the credit-gathering system [more on this shortly], or through cash-for-credits transactions [EC currently acknowledges the existence of an active "grey" market in credits; the service will soon establish its own credit marketing operation for EC points]. The "grey" market appears to be moderately active, with 'Card credits even turning up on eBay, and several sites devoted to such sales operating openly on EntreCard.
The two principle "systems" by which "Carders" drop are reciprocal dropping [dropping EC cards on sites that have visited yours], and power dropping [using advanced techniques to drop on many sites in a short amount of time]. EntreCard sets a strict limit of 300 cards per day, per blog [a limit many members get around by operating more than one blog. I currently operate two myself, and by no means would I consider myself a power player in the Brave New EC World]. The service says[reasonably, I think] that most people get nowhere near the 300 figure, but admits that some of their active users do reach the limit.
Time for some horseback figuring: for a moment, let's assume that the soon-to-be marketable EC credits sell for five cents apiece [probably somewhat high, but an easy figure to calculate]. A reciprocal dropper like myself will typically drop about 60 cards per day, per site. This works out to three dollars in salable credits available to sell. Not exciting in itself, but consider that the operator of two blogs would, in theory, be able to clear about thirty dollars a week. That would, for instance, cover the cost of high-speed Internet access in many communities, with a little cash left over. But consider if the rate per credit were to rise to twenty-five cents [a figure I predict we may see within the first year of the marketing plan]. The figure per blog rises to fifteen dollars per day, per blog, and seventy-five dollars per week! [little wonder, then, that EntreCard announced this week that it was aware of the existence of software designed to automatically drop cards. It also announced improved security to prevent such ploys, but, with money on the table, it's probably just a matter of time before someone develops an undetectable program to "carpet drop" cards]
So, a pool of potential sellers appears to be in place. But who will be the buyers? What will bring them to EntreCard? How will those transactions be handled? And who will the real money-makers be? I'll try to address those questions in my next posting.
-Mike Riley


Sly Hoax said...

Very interesting stuff. Unfortunately, from what I've seen- ecredits are worth about a penny each. I could be wrong- I'm fairly new to the entre system.

Laura said...

Hi Mike. I thought you had a good blog started. What happened to you?