Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pajamas Media, Pathfinder, and Go.com By: Laurence Simon

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I've been thinking about Pajamas Media and how it reminds me of the Pathfinder and Go.com fiascos a bit more. Or maybe I've forgotten I thought about it and I'm typing this all over again like that guy from Memento.

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Sammy who?

Pathfinder and Go.com were artificial "portal site" constructs developed by Time Warner and Disney. They were utterly devoid of content in and of themselves beyond a few bells-and-whistles and navigation trickery. In the end, they were just another annoying layer of navigation that made you hunt and click for your content more than before.

On the other hand, Pajamas Media is also an artificial "portal site" construct. Unlike Pathfinder and Go.com, it's got a bit of unique content to it, like the Blog Jams or the Iraqi Elections Reporting or the various roundups. Tack on a blogroll and some wire feeds and that's pretty much it for the consumer.

You can also still get to the Pajamas Media member sites without a hassle of slogging through Land Of A Thousand Clicks like go.com and pathfinder.com were. Your feeds still work, your bookmarks still work, your permalinks still work.

The eerie parallel between Go/Pathfinder and Pajamas Media is that you had two huge companies with amazing brand recognition. You know Time and CNN and Disney and ABC. However, some marketing morons decided to take all of those well-recognized brand names and shove them to the backburner while promoting completely artificial and unknown hub names.

Bad mistake.

So in this new Pajamas Media Venture, they went from Pajamas Media to Open Source Media and then back to Pajamas Media.

I wonder if any of the consultant geniuses mentioned anything about Go.com or Pathfinder before heading down the same exact road of trying to establish a whole new portal name.

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

They call them diet Coke and Coke Zero and Cherry Coke for a reason, you know. If they had its own name (Light Cola, Cola Water, Cherry drink), it wouldn't sell as much.

The rule is not to create an unknown brand name to smother your collective well-known brand names, but to take an existing brand name and expand it to embrace all of the lesser brand names.

So, what would I have done?

The crown jewel of the network is obviously Reynolds' Instapundit site with Malkin as a close second.

Fine. Build upon that brand name.

Expanding the well-known InstaPundit brand to encompass the network of bloggers, calling it "The Pundit Network" or "InstaPundits" (plural) or "Instant Punditry" or whatever.

If it fails, well, jettison the network part and go back to just the core InstaPundit brand.

But then, what do I know? These geniuses actually came up with "Jellyfish" for a while during their spitballing sessions.

In the end, I think it's "Network of ad banners" that's #1 on the list, nothing's #2, and #3 is... um... hey, wasn't it a great launch party?

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