The problem with the web is that the low barriers to entry and potential for high financial gain encourage way too many people to launch websites. It's like playing the lottery – you know you probably won't win, but it's just $1. As a result, junk content dwarfs valuable information on the web. Some local entrepreneurs that I know have taken a step to solve that problem for health related information by launching MedTrackAlert. The local paper featured them in an article yesterday, and it reminded me that I needed to write about their business model.
"Figuring out what is trustworthy information is difficult," said Ted Smith of Louisville, who became frustrated in 2004 when he tried to learn more about the medicines that were being given to his terminally ill mother.
"The kinds of problems I was trying to solve were very simple," Smith said. "I just want to understand what's going on with these medications. Are they safe? Are were there side effects that are being discovered" that weren't originally foreseen with the drugs?
Smith, 40, came away from the experience with an idea for a Web service he thought could help others with similar needs.
The result is a Louisville startup, MedTrackAlert, that scours the online press for news of medicinal developments and then delivers the information to half a million newsletter subscribers. The service covers all of the major medications for chronic conditions and continues adding more drug coverage, he said.
MedTrackAlert makes money just like other content companies – through advertising. The difference between this business and most content companies is that MedTrackAlert gets rockstar CPMs. I'm not at liberty to disclose how much, but when I saw Ted Smith several weeks ago, my jaw dropped when he told me the number.
Google became the leading search engine because they provided better information. Now that the web has become crowded (and spammers have learned to game the system), I find myself frustrated with Google's search results. That frustration is what created the opportunity for sites like MedTrackAlert. The lesson here is that information is as valuable as ever, and the low barrier to entry for online content creation has simply increased the opportunities for entrepreneurs to provide solutions that cut through the junk. When it comes to information, quality beats quantity every time.