These sites are somewhat experimental (beta?) right now.
I’m not sure they will make us money, or if you can even run a multi-language brand from one central location. Most folks advised us to do license deals where we would sell our brands in local markets to someone for a flat-fee plus a revenue share if the local version hit a certain level of advertising. These were tempting offers as they are cash in the hand, as opposed to us taking all the risk and spending money to build a brand in another country. Basically we’re starting over in each marketkinda scary.
However, it was important for us to maintain control of the brands, and in this model Peter, Ryan and Barb over at Engadget English have the editors of the foreign language brands working directly with them on a minute-by-minute basis.
My thinking on this was that we’re building CNN, not just a blog. We’ll have breaking gadget news from across four continents and languageswith correspondents in six or seven countries!
Now we’re starting to look more like a Reuters or AP, not just About.com (not that there is anything wrong with being About.com I wish we had 400 bloggers, but I’m happy with 106 after 18 months).
News from China will flow to the English version and then back down to the Spanish and Japanese versions. Imagine editors from all four versions talking on IM about a story and it’s impact on a global basis. Trade shows in China that you’ve never heard of will get the same coverage on Engadget English that CES would. Now, this is starting to get interesting isn’t it?
On the business case, we go where Google goes. Google has advertising in a lot of markets, so we don’t have to have sales people on the ground right now (we will I’m sure).
Advertisers are also thinking global, and we can offer someone like, say, Microsoft, Apple (if they advertised on blogs grrrrr.), Sony, Samsung, IBM, Gateway, Dell, Motorola, etc. one advertising buy that lets them reach more then just the US audience. Time will tell if advertisers want to make these kind of buysI’m obviously thinking they will.
Now, we may very well partner with existing local brands and people who have created Weblogs, Inc. style business in different countries, or maybe we’ll partner with larger media companies in other countries. Both of those options are still on the table and we’re looking at them. However, we had people who wanted to help us put these blogs in other languages so we hired them.
If you’re interested in helping bring one of our brands into another language let me know I love to travel. 🙂