The other day, someone asked me if there were signs that this new boom or bubble was similar or different than the last one. In thinking about it, I said the worrisome point was that there appeared to be a bunch of startups that were trying to do exactly what startups during the first internet bubble did -- but without recognizing what made the first versions fail (or, worse, not even realizing that the idea had been done before). In some cases, though, it was actually the exact same people putting a fresh "Web 2.0" coat of paint on an old idea that failed. It appears that's exactly what's happening with this new company Agloco, which is the 2.0 reincarnation of AllAdvantage. While the Pets.com sock puppet is often thought of as the mascot of the dot com bubble, a more appropriate defining dot com was probably AllAdvantage. It was a multi-level marketing deal that forced a little box of ads to show on your desktop as you surfed the web. The longer you surfed, the more you got paid, though there were plenty of apps out there that would trick the ad bar or hide it. However, part of the deal was that if you got others to sign up, you got a piece of their action as well. As with any pyramid scheme, that meant lots of people spamming all their friends to install this bit of annoying adware. The problem was that the plan couldn't make money. Couldn't, not didn't. They had to pay out so much, and the value to the advertisers was minimal, since the people signing up just wanted the money and didn't care about the ads. In other words, it wasn't well targeted, it was junk that people put up with for money -- meaning the amount advertisers are willing to is low and gets lower and lower as they realize how little they get out of it. It appears that the new company, founded by some of AllAdvantage's founders, is doing pretty much the same thing. They claim this time it'll work better, because the analytics are better. Of course, it doesn't matter how good the analytics are if no one actually cares about the ads.
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