Startup Monetization Strategy: Brand-Claimed Accounts

There is a good dialogue taking place on business models started by Chris Anderson. However, one model I see left out is what I call “brand-claimed accounts.�

In a recent post on handles and user names I made the point that many startups have begun to attract interest (use) from brands and other organizations who are looking to have presence on new media websites and apps. The reasoning for a brand to want presence on different sites could range from communications and marketing (Twitter) to advertising (Facebook Fan Pages) to Biz Dev (Jobster or LinkedIn) to SEO.

While individual users are not normally picky in terms of users names and identity within a given system, brands certainly are. As I explained previously, while brands may have the right to prohibit others from using a trademarked name – there is NOTHING preventing a startup from not allowing a brand access to its name without first receiving compensation. In other words, if Sony wants to claim the user name ‘Sony’ on Twitter they can, but it should cost them say $30 a month. Brands and organizations paying also makes sense on a system like Twitter because brands themselves are using the tool to ultimately make money, whether through PR, marketing, or increased productivity. Some of the fees a startip charges to a brand or enterprise might also offset the “verificationsâ€� to ensure a brand really is who they claim to be, or offset the cost of a slightly more robust set of customization options. Plus in order to enact a brand-claimed account model all a startup need do is reserve the names/handles of Fortune 500’s and require ‘claiming’ of said names through an admin.

As communications, audience and advertising increasingly moves online in 2008, brands will more frequently desire representation on new networks and applications. To me, brand-claimed accounts seem like a logical monetization route, especially when coupled with other revenue streams.


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