I’ve been experimenting with Quora, a new Q&A and discussion site. Quora’s big differentiator is that it provides high quality responses often by users who are experts in their fields. So what kind of revenue model would be a good fit for such a service?
1. Highly targeted advertising: The ads would be almost an extension of the information that the users are seeking. Since users show interest in Topics such as Travel, Parenting and so on, the ads can reflect those interests and also specifically target questions that the users are trying to get answered. For example, for “ What is a good off-season time to travel to Switzerland” with answer “April” the best type of ad would be “Hotel in Zurich, Book now for April Deals”.
Additionally, the targeting can be based on a user’s history on Quora, aggregating their interests in different topics. For example, an ad could be targeted to users who are parents with interests in technology and travel.
2. Allowing advertisers to sponsor answers: For the question above on travel to Switzerland, you could have a tour operator offer an informed and detailed answer while subtly marketing their product. Even for more esoteric questions such as “Do supermarkets use purchasing data to find correlations between different products where one wouldn’t normally think there is a strong correlation” – retail or pricing consultants could provide an informative answer while pitching their services. Of course, such a response would be called out and labeled as Sponsored. Done right, Sponsored answers will add value and be useful to users, instead of being just a distraction, which is the case with most forms of advertising.