04:20 AM

Out and About at Web 2.0 Expo...

Web 2.0 Expo is not very busy this year but that doesn't mean I haven't found it interesting and time well spent.

Maybe its because there aren't large crowds that I'm enjoying it more this year. It's easier to have longer conversations with people.

The conference sessions and keynotes have been interesting too, even though many of the conference sessions feature single speakers.

- I caught Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix speaking about monetization of online media. He took us through the ABC basics such as "have lots of traffic" to more interesting content related to his personal experience of running advertising sales teams.

He says that it takes about two years to train up a sales team and for them to get their story straight; sales people always sell to the companies they know; it takes a long time to educate sales people on your value proposition; listen to the feedback from your salesforce.

- Cary Rosenzweig, CEO of IMVU, a virtual community site similar to Second Life, spoke about virtual goods. He prefers to use the term 'digital goods.' He says they are contextual and are of two types, either "expressive" or "decorative."

About 20% of digital goods are bought as gifts; people want an avatar that looks unique therefore they don't buy popular items but look for clothes, etc, that no one else has; top selling goods are never 0.2% of total; user generated content is hard and quality is determined by the users.

- Rebecca Weeks Watson, VP Business development at GWallet spoke about virtual currencies. She said that CPMs are excellent and range in the $100 to $500 range. Virtual currencies are the quickest way to monetize up to 100% of users.

- I met with Gilles Barbier, the CEO of TellMeWhere, a cool restaurant recommendation engine. It's the current leader in Europe with more than 640,000 users and it's expanding into the US.

The company has a very good iPhone app and its algorithm makes use of a person's social graph plus recommendations of similar people. It's monetization strategy is based on coupons directed to only the people that are likely to like that type of restaurant.

Its algorithms know what its users like which means its advertising is highly targeted. This also means that the coupons are less annoying because they are only shown to people that the service knows like those types of restaurants.

- Marie Domingo and Harry McCracken threw an excellent Technologizer party Tuesday evening, which was full of my favorite people. I also got to meet Pirouz Nilforoush, the co-founder of NetShelter, an intriguing ad network. Also, Francois Nadal, from myERP.com, who says business is booming.

- Enterprise Ireland hosted a fun Tweetup for visiting Irish startups. I managed to grab a few minutes with Jane Evans Ryan from Genuity PR.