Idio is a Flash magazine launching tomorrow that will deliver personalized content and rich media advertising regarding design and music. Angel funded and based in the UK, I think Idio stands a strong chance of succeeding. It could also be an important look into the future.
Here’s how it will work. Users are asked to identify themselves demographically and use sliders to express their varying interests in subjects like music genres. Idio will then select from professionally licenced and user generated content to create a personalized Flash magazine for each user.
While reading Idio, users will be asked to rate particular articles in a simple up down fashion. That data will further contribute to determining what articles are displayed for different readers.
Bloggers and other writers whose contributions are selected will be paid by revenue sharing from ads. Contributions can come through direct submission or a resyndicated RSS feed. The company says that advertisers are willing to pay a premium for microsites and rich media ads embedded in the magazine and so the revenue shared will be substantial. It will be very interesting to see who the first advertisers are.
YouTube made clear that a particular kind of Flash content, beyond Flash ads, can mean big money. Flash game sites are proliferating rapidly – see Kongregate, which we wrote about here last week for example. Of course advertising is already flush with Flash. There’s also something about Flash that tends to feel relatively constrictive as a user. None the less, a personalized web magazine with Flash ads embedded inside seems a solid strategy.
It’s one thing to build a beautiful vessel, as it appears that Idio has, but it’s another to come up with quality content on a regular basis. Even with the initial focus of design and music, Idio will face a serious challenge in satisfying niche users that have no shortage of other options available to them. If revenues are significant enough to compensate contributors well and pay for high quality licenced content then the challenge could be met. How many thriving examples of revenue sharing with individual content producers exist online now? Not very many at all. It’s something that many people are trying, but for some reason most efforts fail to gain critical mass.
Will Idio appeal to readers? James Yu has a long article on Idio at BuzzShout where he says that the company describes its product as a “glossy RSS feed” and says that his personalization needs are filled by his own RSS reader. Yu says, and I agree, that people less comfortable with the bare bones RSS subscription model are quite likely to enjoy something like Idio. As the success of services like MyYahoo show, a simple RSS interface is most likely to gain mass adoption. Services like Idio that are powered by RSS are even more likely to represent the future of the medium.
Good visual design in a fluid medium can be very compelling. If Idio can land the sponsorships and content they need to create a meaningfully personalized experience I think the company could be a big success.