You can't please them all. CNET
I was able to talk to CEO Shelby Bonnie after the company's conference call last night to color in what's been going on with the company since we last spoke 10 months ago.
Unique monthly visitors to your sites have risen by 55% over the past year while page views are up an even better 94%. What is CNET doing to make its experience so sticky that it wasn't doing a year ago?
Bonnie credits three things with the company's ability to keep its audience on its turf longer. More video offerings, enhanced community features, and an emphasis on personalization have been the key factors in stickiness across the company's network of sites.
But can one truly monetize free video streams?
"Absolutely," explains Bonnie, pointing to 15-second video spots that the company has been able to tack on to its video reviews that have opened up the floodgates to more mainstream advertisers. While video is still a small component for the company, the falling prices of bandwidth in recent years give the company the ability to turn a profit on many of its chunky music, video, and photo file streams. Before depreciation and amortization and one-time charges, the company posted a 55% improvement in operating profits during the period, so it's clearly finding ways to make it work.
But it's more than that. Not too many content sites are pumping out proprietary video streams and that, as Bonnie says, "is a way to differentiate ourselves" from what may seem, in a text-based Internet world as the vanilla bean in abundance elsewhere.
That's why CNET hasn't shied away from the chunky bandwidth sites. Between the acquisition of Webshots.com and migrating the original MP3.com concept of streaming the MP3 files of unsigned bands over to Music.Download.com, CNET has no problem moving in areas that are clearly underserved.
"The things we are doing are working and it's resonating with our users," he says.
"Search.com has done a nice job in an area that has not gotten a lot of focus in our company," Bonnie explains. "It is capital-intensive and harder to differentiate oneself in search. But the market will change a lot over the next 10 years just as it has over the last seven."
Bonnie then mentions search stars that were all the rage in the late 1990s like WebCrawler and Terra's
That's why Search.com still has a shot to stand out in a crowd and why CNET is willing to wait.
Come back tomorrow as Bonnie discusses the company's business ventures in China and the advantages of being an online content provider over glitzier hypergrowth Internet.
Other questions you may have about CNET?
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a fan of CNET, but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.