Making Money from Crowdsourcing

There’s great interest in using the Internet to 1) allow people to organize themselves according to their preferences and habits, and 2) buy and sell access to them according to those preferences and habits.

It’s unquestionably a huge market. After all that’s what Google does. Google users provide information about their interests in the form of search terms. Using this information, Google can gather up the handful of people who express interest in an obscure term and then provide advertisers with a way to reach them. In effect, Google users trade personal information in return for free use of Google’s online services.

This situation creates a perfect market for disintermediators like Seth Goldstein, who think the personal information is worth far more than users are getting back in services from Google and other providers. Goldstein, a serial entrepreneur based in San Francisco, believes the personal information contained in users’ click trails, online chats and transactions is something that users ought to take hold of and sell themselves, generating direct payback. So he has co-founded a new venture called AttentionTrust.

AttentionTrust’s approach turns the tables on personal information aggregators. Instead of handing over their information, users amass their own traffic patterns and preferences using a software plug-in that runs inside a Web browser. They can then deposit their resulting profiles in an online vault, where interested parties can pay to see. Prices can be structured on a sliding scale, depending on, for example, whether an advertiser or company wants to contact individuals.

So where is the Buzz? Well, if AttentionTrust hasn’t gotten your attention, also check out GestureBank, Boxbe and Agloco. Agloco even promises to return 90% of ad revenue, sales commissions and other income to its users.

The important Web 2.0 message here is that these outfits have cracked the code on how to help people get paid for what they already do.

Interesting development note: Google recently announced that by the end of the year it will start to “anonymize” server logs, removing identifying data from them after 18- 24 months.

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