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October 7, 2006

Jellyfish an Interesting New Media Business Model

There are always interesting new Internet start-up businesses out there, and one of the latest that I've had brought to my attention is Jellyfish, whose tagline is "where stores compete to lower your price." The new online site, still in its beta form for now, gives cash back to users.

The premise is explained in Judy Newman's recent Wisconsin State Journal article about the Madison, Wisc. based business: is an Internet comparison shopping service with a couple of new twists:

Stores whose products are shown on only pay a commission on the products that customers purchase.

The customers who buy the products get part of the commission.

Newman's story features a number of analysts discussing the possibilities of such a model, but they point out that the company--still in its beta form--will have its biggest hurdle to overcome in the fact that stores like Amazon simply provide a much greater range of products. Since Jellyfish has to reach a deal with every company directly, the amount of items available online remain fairly limited.

However, owners Brian Wiegand and Mark McGuire seem more than confident in Newman's story, with McGuire saying, "We've really put the consumer in control. We're turning the tables on advertising and making it work for you, the end consumer."

The folks over at Blackfriars' Marketing write that "it's a complete rethinking of how advertising revenues should flow in an environment where attention is scarce instead of plentiful".

Doris Hajewkski with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that "Jellyfish's marketing efforts so far have involved word of mouth and publicity in the media. He doesn't plan to use traditional advertising to promote the site. Wiegland also is working on partnership programs with media Web sites."

And Tom Foremski with SiliconValleyWatcher writes that the busienss "addresses some aspects of the 'attention economy' that Steve Gillmor, Doc Searls, and others have been discussing." Foremski concludes that "this is a fascinating business model because it rewards customer loyalty plus the behavioral data collected could result in exposure to fewer, but highly targeted ads; and the customer shares in the sales commissions--that's a double value to users."

It's not yet going to be easy to predict whether Jellyfish will be a success, but it seems that they are asking the right sets of questions.

Thanks to Ellen Foley for passing information along regarding

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