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CNET Cuts Staff 10%. We're All DOOOOOOMMMMEED!!!!

No, we’re not.
Yes, CNET just cut 10% of their workforce. And we’re seeing far too much of that lately.
But before I go outside and commit hari kari with a USB thumb drive, let’s get a little perspective.
CNET’s problems are a valuable lesson in internet marketing, but don’t run for the hills just yet. A comparison with their competitors shows this has been in the offing for a while, and it has nothing to do with the economy. It’s about their strategy.

CNET got bloated

CNET cut 120 jobs. That’s 10% of their workforce. To publish an online network?! Let me go waaaay out on a limb here: I don’t think they really need over 1000 people to publish their site.
Engadget probably doesn’t use as many employees as CNET just let go. Neither does Gizmodo or the other sites that have taken a chunk of CNET’s market share.

CNET doesn’t get the social media thing

And, CNET hasn’t kept up with the times. They continue to deluge us with banners, Flash widgets and so much motion that I get carsick:
CNET Assaults
Gaaaa! Too much stuff! Banners, videos, animated stufflets. Help!

Compare that to Gizmodo:
Gizmodo informs
OK, not the most intellectual article they’ve ever done, but still…

Gizmodo leads with content. Yes, they have ads. Lots of ads. But I can read their articles without getting a seizure. And they let you (gasp) comment on stories.
CNET has satellite sites like Crave, and those sites are a bit edgier. They’ve added comments, too.
But articles posted earlier today on CNET’s Crave have zero comments.
An article posted on Gizmodo accumulated 21 comments in less than 30 minutes.
Yikes. CNET isn’t talking with you – they’re still talking at you. That’s cost them dearly.

CNET’s lost ground. Will they make it up?

The result? CNET’s lost ground.

Ouch. CNET actually lost ground, or at best tread water, during the holidays.
CNET has a far bigger market share than Gizmodo. But they need to take a few pages from the smaller site’s playbook:

  • Talk with your audience, not at them.
  • Make your site simpler. Focus on content.
  • Have a talk with Jeremiah about community building, guys…
  • Oh, and can I recommend a little SEO….?

CNET can recover from this, if they don’t panic and start slapping even more ads up on their site. Only time will tell, though.

CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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  1. Hate to jump on the i-hope-CNet-dies-in-a-fire bandwagon, but as someone who visits and comments on gadget sites daily, Gizmodo and BoingBoing Gadgets are at the top of my list every time. If I have time, I’ll go to Crave or CNet.
    Crave, and even Engadget now, has a commenting system that’s far too time-consuming for today’s casual blog readers to be involved in with any regularity.

  2. I like CNET for specific product info, because I can search and likely find a review or two. They just need to get with the times…

  3. Gizmodo leads in content of what? Some of the stuff on there isn’t even tech related nor rated for people under the age of 18. CNet would get sued if they put half of that crap on there site. They let you comment on Giz because it looks like a blog, and acts like a blog, so it must be a BLOG!!!!!!! People that use CNet for reviews, downloads, etc go there because it is easy to find what you are looking for. It is made for the average user. Now I am with you that some things are outdated and I really don’t like flashing adds, but hey people are paying for those adds so there is not much we can do about that. I do like reading the stuff on Giz and others sites because it is entertaining and all, but you have to realize that it is a completely different kind of site.
    You do realize CNet is more than just omg, CNet? They didn’t just get rid of people at CNet they got rid of the people at CNet Networks. CNet Networks owns TechRepublic, Gamespot, BNet, TV.com, just to name a few. They also produce a lot of newsletters daily. So yes, they need more people to produce there content than say Giz etc. By producing content I am including editors, journalists, web developers, designers, technical producers, marketers, etc. Giz’s website looks like it was slapped together using WordPress or something equally as cheesy.

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