Truth on the Market: Why Build When You Can Buy?

As Dan noted, today a new blog, Truth on the Market, went online. As I expected when I first welcomed this possible development, it seems likely that TOTM will be a regular stop in my daily internet rounds.

Keith Sharfman’s new post is worth further comment:

A blog’s market share is largely search-driven rather than reputation-based. And for search-generated hits, blog entries compete with each other on a level playing field. A blogger’s reputation cannot in itself trigger search hits in the absence of search-relevant content. This makes me confident that there’s still plenty of room for Truth on the Market in business law blogging, notwithstanding the large number of high quality business law blogs that already exist.

This is interesting. I think Keith is saying that off-line reputation doesn’t transfer easily to online blogs, and, therefore the barriers to entry for a new blog’s success are quite low. I agree (look at this blog’s success over the last three months). But I do think that it is easy to overstate this point, because to some degree search traffic is “distorted” by prior reputation through google pagerank. Around 20% of our daily traffic currently is driven here by google (and other search engines). I suspect we’d get significantly more hits if our page rank value (currently 3) were higher; we expect that if we continue to do a good job over time, we’ll build a virtuous cycle with google and obtain some type of early mover advantage with traffic. But still, as Randy Barnett said at the AALS blogging session, it is far from too late to start a new blog.

Incidentally, I wonder what explanation we could come up with for the TOTM folks’ unwillingness to simply buy an existing blog? (Like the market for virtual swordmasters, but more professionally useful!) Starting a blog takes time, and an existing blog’s traffic, google score, blogrolls, etc., surely have some value. If folks are looking for a platform, why build your own? A related question: why have so few bloggers followed in the Conglomerate’s footsteps and merged with another blog to grow an audience? (Maybe Ribstein’s HSR concerns chilled activity?) Such mergers would seem to be a dominant solution to some of the time and traffic worries that plague most bloggers. Group blogging also may help to ameliorate the political concerns with blogging recently in the news. (Note: if this blog is too [_____], blame Solove! I’m kidding. Blame Wenger.)

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1 Response

  1. Mike says:

    Great point re: page rank. Re: buying blogs. Often relatively popular blogs (with, say, a PR of 4 or 5) will abandon their blogspot domain. Sure enough, a porn purveyor will pick it right up. (I report the splogs when I find them, and Blogger fortunately removes them.) Which just goes to show that if you really want to learn about business, forget about reading law professors: Watch the people in the porn industry!