Scribd, the YouTube of print materials, is getting into the ad business with the help of Geoff Hamm formerly of Electronic Arts.
Scribd is an interesting animal that went from online document repository to social networking site with an emphasis on reading. Where it differs from a site like Good Reads, is that Scribd relies on its community members to upload everything from memos to magazines, ebooks and even school work.
According to AdWeek, Scribd has 60 million unique users and several high profile members including The New York Times, Ford and Simon and Schuster.
In the article, the Scribd audience is referred to as “professional, affluent and influential,” though it’s hard to tell if those words are the author’s or Hamm’s. It can be assumed that a site dedicated to reading attracts an intelligent user but affluent and influential, I’m not so sure.
The trouble with Scribd, as with any site that relies on user-generated content, is that the content is uneven and often illegal. Sure there are rules that say you shouldn’t upload anything that violates copyright, but because of my interest in TV, my recommendations include two TV scripts and a selection of sides (script portions used for auditions) that were uploaded by fans. One of the most popular documents right now? Elizabeth Edwards’ will. Is that something you want to see next to an ad for your gourmet cookie shop?
There are plenty of good things about Scribd and maybe having a robust ad network will help them separate the wheat from the illegal and unnecessary chaff. With more people reading books on some kind of portable device, Scribd is at the right place with its large collection of ebooks many of which are free. It’s also a good place to upload an ebook that promotes your business. So instead of investing in a sidebar box, maybe you’d be better off uploading your own materials. It’s free and those Google bots just love it.