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More on Sprinks: It's the distribution

By - October 27, 2003

I’ve been thinking a bit more about the Sprinks deal, mainly through the lens of what’s happening to Google’s world. It’s simple, but true: When Yahoo switches over to its own internal search technology (which will happen soon – probably in the next two or three quarters), Google will lose a shitload of distribution. Seen in this light, it only makes sense to buy more through About.com, which is the fourth or fifth largest content site on the Web. If the IPO timing rumours are true, it would make no sense for Google to go public, then get clobbered when the other Yahoo shoe drops. Hence, the Sprinks deal is less about Sprinks, and far more about getting About.com’s distribution. The original press release and other coverage shows this was all about higher margins for Primedia, and gaining distribution for Google. Google’s own AdSense/AdWords will be used across the About/Primedia properties, not Sprinks. Sprinks itself will probably be kept on life support for a while, then killed/replaced with Google products. In this DirectNews article covering the deal, Kevin Lee put it well: “I don’t see it as a technology play. They made a case to Primedia that the cash flow would be higher with them than their own internal property.” Primedia, which is under significant debt burden and must focus on its core magazine business, is driven by a need to simplify its business and add to its margins. Google needs distribution to cover its anticipated losses from Yahoo’s future moves. Voila, a perfect union.

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2 thoughts on “More on Sprinks: It's the distribution

  1. Yes, yes, I know – the Yahoo deal is algorithmic distribution, and the Sprinks deal is paid search distribution (though I wonder if Google will get Primedia’s main search function as well). Still and all…

  2. David says:

    I am sad that google dismantled Sprinks.

    I used to advertise on one of About’s site and I and the old advertisers are now gone. We can’t make Adwords pay.

    You cannot opt out of google searches and for some products, evidently, they are worthless. This means that your daily budget gets whittled away by clicks on google searches.

    Google gets a different kind of traffic than specific, content-rich pages of About does. I have a high-cost, complicated product and I can’t sell it in 5 milliseconds or whatever.

    What worked for me was my About page. It got repeat traffic and the people saw me every day. I paid between $40 and $60 per day, every day for 2 years to Sprinks.

    I doubt that, at least for the About page I used to advertise on, google’s revenue is as high as Sprinks’ was. But the costs may be much lower, too.

    Anyway, it’s a shame to take a property and kill it’s utility, I think.