Blog network Glam Media today announced the launch of its application platform. Code-named “Atako,” which Glam says is their “new word for tech enthusiasm,” the platform is built using Google Gadget and OpenSocial standards (a big win for Google now that Facebook’s platform is open source as well), as well as other emerging web standards such as OpenID, and will allow app developers to reach Glam’s 77 million monthly unique users.
Glam’s blog network contains over 600 publishers of various sizes, and app developers will be targeting publishers with apps rather than users. The name of the game here is creating value for blog publishers and then monetizing apps via advertising shown to users (Glam is an ad network, afterall, and plans to sell ads on apps and share revenue with developers). It’s a little unorthodox, but it could certainly work. Glam’s huge number of monthly unique users is on par with many top-tier social networks and putting publishers in control of which apps are used on each blog property will all but eliminate the app overload and spam problems faced on social network development platforms such as Facebook’s.
“For publishers, Glam Apps offers a way to add new features, functionality, and content; generate more page views; build a more loyal audience; and earn more revenue,” said Glam in a press release. The company has also outlined the types of applications that their publishers want; things like polling apps, photo galleries, slide shows, ecommerce widgets, and branded video players top the list.
Glam will make applications available in an application store allowing app developers to charge publishers to use their applications — though with a potential customer base of about 600 mostly small publishers, there’s not a lot of room for growth for paid apps. We expect that most apps will be ad supported with a handful that tie into outside subscription services.
Glam’s application platform is a unique approach for a blog network, but the company appears to have grander aspirations. The development platform’s FAQ page hints at the possibility of the creation of a network-wide Glam social network. “Is the Glam Platform a Social Network?” asks the FAQ. “Not at this time. The initial release of the Glam Platform supports anonymous user [sic] only. Glam Apps have knowledge of the publisher’s profile, but not of the visitor’s profile. Plans are in the works to enable visitor profiles and sharing functionality in future releases.”
One potential hurdle here is that because Glam’s blog network was assembled piecemeal via acquisition of or partnership with independent blogs, properties in the network use many different blogging platforms. Some use WordPress, some use Blogger, some use MoveableType, etc. How Glam plans to get applications work across so many different platforms remains unclear. (The FAQ mentions the issue, but doesn’t specifically say how the company plans to address it.)
The platform is expected to launch in Q4 2008, and Joyent will provide one year of free hosting to app developers.