Live from nextMEDIA: Canada’s Hottest Digital Media Innovators

In this panel session we hear from some of Canada’s leading digital media innovators, to find out what it takes to achieve success. Panel members include Leila Boujnane from Idee Inc., Markus Frind from Plentyoffish Media, Boris Wertz from Nexopia, and Jeremy Wright from b5media. Ellie Rubin from Ellie Corporation is moderating.

Boris Wertz:

  • Nexopia was founded about five years ago in Edmonton
  • It is Canada’s largest social network for youth
  • About 1 billion page views per month
  • How can Nexopia take on Facebook? Different goals. Facebook is trying to be a social network for everyone, versus Nexopia which focuses on teens.
  • The product is extremely customizable with skins, profiles, forums, etc. – "live out loud!"
  • Nexopia is about self-expression.
  • Partnerships: Warner Music Group, Live Nation, and others.
  • Nexopia: "Because your mom’s on Facebook."
  • Based on number of hours spent on the site, Nexopia is the fourth largest social network in North America.

Jeremy Wright:

  • b5media has around 350 blogs covering about 12 verticals including Business, Technology, Entertainment, etc.
  • "We’re like a magazine company, except we don’t spend money on paper."
  • 35 million page views per month, 9 million unique visitors per month
  • Over 250 bloggers contributing to the various blogs
  • One of the top five blog networks in the world, definitely the largest in Canada
  • b5media develops quality content for a diverse audience at a fraction of the cost of traditional content creators
  • A big goal/challenge for this year is to convert the single network of blogs into a network of networks based around the verticals
  • A story doesn’t have to die with the deadline, bloggers can keep it going

Markus Frind:

  • Plentyoffish started give years ago in Markus’ apartment
  • Up to 55 million monthly visitors, and about 4 billion page views
  • "I’m in the process now of turning it from a hobby into a business."
  • Built the site in two weeks, and four months later started making money with AdSense.
  • Average age is 37, 60/40 male/female split
  • 5000 images are served each second
  • Most of the focus to date has been on technical things, like upgrading database servers

Leila Boujnane:

  • Software development company, not a content company
  • One product is visual searching, the ability to find images inside large libraries
  • Another is image tracking, can find where images have appeared online, where they are being used
  • Another is a pure image search engine – "we do for images what Google does for text"
  • The new search engine is called TinEye
  • Have leveraged Amazon’s Web Services to assist with the image fingerprinting process

Questions from the audience:

  • What are you top 3 pieces of advice to reach people on the web? LB – Be part of the community…don’t take, start by giving. BW – Having a product that is better than the rest is big. JW – Giving people relevant choices for ways to interact, contribute, etc is key. MF – Community is a result of success, not the other way around.
  • Given Nexopia’s specific target market, what is your internal regulatory policy for policing the site? BW – You can sign up if you’re over 20, there are no age restrictions. Nexopia has a large abuse team, work the police on a daily basis. You need to be vigilant.
  • Are b5media’s on staff, what’s the model? JW – Moving to a new model, where we pay bloggers in advance and then a bonus for traffic. Other pay models are revenue share, flat fees per post, etc. b5media is always experimenting though, no one has found the perfect model yet.