Give Samir Arora this much credit: The founder of Glam Media is an excellent salesman. Especially when pitching a gullible press corps. Folio is the latest to take the bait. The magazine swallows Arora's line that as an ad network, Glam deserves comparison to wholly-owned media properties. (Such as, I should mention, Jezebel.com, the women's site published by Gawker Media, the owner of Valleywag.) It's nonsense, of course. But when Deborah Fine, CEO of NBC Universal's iVillage, points this out, she's portrayed as a disgruntled rival, not a voice of reason. Too bad Folio didn't listen to her, or talk to stock analysts, or do anything, really, besides transcribe what Arora told the magazine. Brokering ads on thin margins is a rough business, and one in which Glam competes with Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. And now, NBC.
Talking up the ad-network business has had an unintended consequence for Arora: Drawing fresh competition from the companies Arora is seeking to displace. NBC Universal has quietly launched its own ad-brokering operation, the NBCU Extended Network, which places ads on NBC Web properties and third-party sites. Just like Glam, in other words, but without the established brands and sales force NBC has on offer.
Glam's Arora blathers on to Folio about exploiting the "mid tail" and operating a "hub and spoke model." To the extent that there's meaning behind those buzzwords, NBC and other established media operations have figured it out. Which leaves Glam, which is seeking to raise $200 million in financing, with little besides Arora's skills as a salesman to justify its valuation.