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Niche Boards Catch Fire



(September 12, 2006) In what is at the least an interesting coincidence, the Monster (MNST) stock price has drooped a bit on the heels of some attention to niche boards. While the industry is abuzz with gossip about job aggregators (Jobster, Simply Hired, Indeed, the emerging flock of others), outsiders are thinking about niche boards. It's reminiscent of the days when the newspapers were surprised that their distant cousins in the Yellow Pages business had moved into the job board segment (that's the Monster story in a nutshell).

(One of the most interesting things to have happened recently is the change in information at the various stock market players. Compare the MNST data at Google, Yahoo and Seeking Alpha. Each service delivers very different news in the headlines section.)

There seems to be a correlation between a blog posting (and a long stream of comments associated with it), an analysts opinion and the emergence of a number of really interesting niche boards have caught the attention of the investment community. The obvious niche delivery opportunity (blogs target very interesting communities very easily) has been overlooked by industry players (in spite of our efforts to talk it up). Now, entrepreneurial bloggers with real reach are doing the obvious thing and selling job ads to their audiences.

The arguments for doing so are strong.

Blogs attract very focused communities of like minded people. It's a variant on the referral idea that is not so easy to wear out (referral networks have a relatively low tolerance for over use.) Yet anther iteration of the old fashioned classified advertising model, blog based employment advertising offers all of the excitement of advertising in trade journals. It works, it's effective, it narrows the audience to a desirable few. Furthermore, the idea of blog based employment ads offers nrelief from the pathetic payots offered by adsense and their competitors.

Job Ads add an additional layer to the sense of community. The commentary around these discussions nicely notes that anyone would prefer a boss who was a fan of this or that blog to one who wasn't. In it's pitch for employment advertising dollars, 37 Signals makes this case:

The highest common denominator
Most job boards are a crap shoot. You post an ad and face an email deluge from unqualified applicants. If you like collecting resumes, that's fine. If you actually want to hire someone, it sucks. That's why we created the 37signals Job Board the best way to find designers and programmers who get it.

and this testimonial:

"We posted on Dice, Craigslist, hell we even bought AdWords for keywords like MySQL. One of our engineers suggested we post on the 37signals Job Board. We didn't get tons of resumes, but the one we did get was a keeper. He's starting in a week, thanks for the help!"

Ah, if we only needed to hire one person or one kind of person.

If we were Monster, we wouldn't be too scared just yet. The administrative hassle of managing the job board crap shoot is going to get way more complex. Monster's advantages in the market are deep and substantial. Niche boards, rather than taking away a piece of a limited pie are rather more likely to grow the whole pie. We expect to see a massive flowering of job boards with huge numbers of local and niche boards popping up. The web has an amazing way of making everything local.

More to come.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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