Today I’d like to announce the public launch of a start-up I’ve been advising for a couple of months, and that I will continue to be a part of in an advisory capacity.
Co-founded by an ex-Google employee, it’s a travel crowdsourcing platform with a difference (don’t they all say that, I hear you ask – read on for more before you do), called Clip the Trip.
Clip the Trip aims to make it easier for travellers to find the really useful recommendations and the insightful insider tips on the places they are visiting, so that more people can have truly authentic travel experiences rather than the touristy ones. I know that every trip I go on, I find myself thumbing through an old Lonely Planet or scouring the web endlessly for what to do once I get to my destination. This site hopes to change that, by getting people around the world to contribute their expert knowledge about the cities they know really well.
We were in invitation-only beta for almost 2 months and have aggregated a small base of interesting content from around the world, written by travel bloggers as well as regular people like you and me who like travelling and sharing their experiences.
What makes Clip the Trip different is that in return for their words of wisdom, writers receive a share of the advertising revenues generated by their content, thereby making it a reciprocal relationship rather than one-way. It’s also got a nice inbuilt social mechanism, in that the more writers spread the word about their content to their own networks, the more they benefit.
Our writers can also go back in and update their ‘clips’, as we call them, at any time so that the information they are sharing is as current as possible.
There are two articles I came across in the recent past that made me want to get on board.
One was this piece by Anil Dash which speaks about the kind of closed network embodied by communities like App.net that he suggests is not what we as creators and users of the free web should be working towards. I’ve thought about this a fair bit and I agree with what he says. Content monetization on the web isn’t easy, as the publishing industry knows all too well, and it may work for some very niche communities or publishers but I don’t believe it’s what this kind of service would thrive on. From that point of view I believe that the openness of a site contributes not only to its diversity but to its success, and I’m glad that we’ve taken the decision to make Clip the Trip an open, inclusive site (there are many travel sites now that rely on the subscription model, such as Valet or Fortnighter – both of which I quite respect for their individual merits but that we agreed was not the path we wanted to go down at Clip the Trip).
The second article is this piece by John Battelle on the so-called death of display. Now, anyone who knows me even a little bit will know how much I hate display advertising. But the truth is that if we don’t try and leverage display advertising in some form, then we go back to square one and harbour the possibility of becoming another ‘Country Club of the Internet’. Using the founder’s experience with AdExchange, we hope to nail the targeted advertising bit at Clip the Trip.
My decision to get on board with Clip the Trip had nothing to do with John Battelle’s post (in fact I only saw that post a month or so ago) but he has articulated what we are trying to do with Clip the Trip better than I could:
It’s time that content creators derived real value from the platforms they feed. A new model is needed, and if one doesn’t emerge (or is obstructed by the terms of service of large platforms), I worry about the future of the open web itself. If we, as an industry, don’t get just a wee bit better at taking care of content creators, we’re going to destroy our own ecosystem – and we’ll watch the Pinterests, Twitters, and yes, even the Google and Facebooks of the world deteriorate for lack of new content to curate.
So that’s what I hope we’ll be able to play a part in – taking care of the content creators so that they can focus on doing what they do best. We are going to leverage display advertising to pay all our brilliant writers (that could be you, by the way!) so that they can rightfully focus on creating the kind of content that they – and we – love.
The site isn’t perfect of course – if you have any comments and suggestions then do send them our way by letting us know via email at teamATclipthetrip.com, by Twitter @clipthetrip or even just leaving a comment here.
Last but not least, a big heartfelt thank you to all our beta participants from all corners of the world (you know who you are!), you are always going to be a key part of this journey.
What you can do
If you love the city you live in and know its quirks and specialties that you’d like others to find and enjoy too, or if you’re an avid traveller that knows exactly where to find the best pop-up burger shack in New York, fish and chips in London or the best chaat in Delhi, then do consider becoming a contributor to Clip the Trip. You can sign up here.
I’d also really appreciate it if you could pass the word on to friends, family and colleagues who may find it interesting – we hope there will be something for everyone, whether you’re a reader, lurker or a writer.