A brief reintroduction to Yahoo! Pipes - Part 4 of 5

picture-4.pngWelcome to the money making part of this series on Yahoo! Pipes. In Part 1, I introduced a list of various types of Yahoo! pipes. Part 2 was a guide to the basic structure of a Yahoo! pipe. Then, Part 3 discussed some techniques for improving the quality of Yahoo! Pipes’ output. Now, we’ll delve into the ways pipes can be used to generate profits. Yeah!

Syndicating content

For well over a hundred years, advertising has been the primary method for making money off of content. On the web, that can also include affiliate programs. Here are a few ways to do just that.


Channels are a narrowly focused form of publishing. A channel could be a podcast, a blog, or a webisode. Generally, channels are delivered as an XML feed, which could contain an encapsulated rich media asset such as an MP3 or a video. Channels can be made by pulling content from one or more sources and then distilling it down to a single feed of interest. For example, one could make a channel from pulling the iTunes most popular list and use that to do a video search on YouTube, which could then be embedded on a page as an automagically generated SplashCast channel.


Portals are a more comprehensive collection of information types, such as a news feed, calendar of events, videos, and more presented on as a single collection. PopUrls is an excellent example of a portal powered by syndicated content from around the web. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the site is powered by Yahoo! Pipes.

Yahoo! Pipes is a great way to aggregate, manipulate, and/or mashing up content from around the web to create a new value added destination, such as a channel or a portal. Content syndication sites can be a great way to attract high volumes of traffic, which can be monetized with advertising or by driving traffic to an affiliate account. The key to making this work is to have a website that displays the pipe outputs as a destination website (like PopUrls). That means creating a designed website that acts as the place that brings the content and ads/affiliate links together.

Notification Services

Similar to the advertising and affiliate model, a notification service could be a destination site that makes money by converting traffic into advertising eyeballs or affiliate buyers. Like the channels and portals, it requires a site that displays the pipe. However, the notification service would only display the inputs for the pipes and the outputs would be emails or messages. For example, one site could be a job watch site. The site could be a couple of text boxes to capture the user’s location, job type, and salary requirements all in a beautifully designed site supported with ads or affiliate links. Notices would come in the form of emails and/or text messages, which could also have ads on them. A notification service could be monetized by doing one or more of the following:

  • Sell ads on the notices
  • Sell the mined data or email list
  • Sell ads on the site itself
  • Charge a subscription to the notices

Loss leader/Bait and Switch

Valuable services, such as a job watch, could be used as a means to attract people to another site that has a different means to monetize traffic, such as an online store. Any of the pipes, be it a watch, news feed, map, or whatever could be a free service designed to lure traffic to a site for conversion into sales, leads, readers, or whatever. Popular content is also a great way to earn backlinks, which helps with both referring traffic and search engine optimization.

Intelligence driven content production

Gathering intelligence from around the web is a great way to direct the content production for a site. Knowing what people are publishing allows you to write response posts that capture an audience by being relevant. And, while wrapping ads around content and reselling products/services is an obvious profit model for pipes, publishing content can also influence the products and services that people buy. At an even higher level, publishing can be used to change public opinion about politics or behavior (such as environmental impact or voting).

Applied research

Pipes is a valuable source for information, particularly if you are mashing up multiple sources to discover new relationships between data. This kind of research can be applied to things like product development, market research for marketing messaging, and discovery of new opportunities.

Buying and selling

Pipes can be used to monitor the sale of products on sites like Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon. If you know your market well, you can set up pipes that will alert you when there are good deals available. The key is to know what you are looking for, where to look for it, and what the magic price points are that equate to good deals. You’ll still need a selling mechanism such as a PayPal account, a Craigslist ad, an eBay listing, and/or a website. If you know the right data to input into price watch pipes, you could automate the intelligence gathering portion of the buying and selling process.

Now that you have a sense of the types of pipes, how pipes work, and how you can profit from pipes, I hope you’ll join me for the final part of this series, which is about what I see as the future of pipes. Before I write the final piece tomorrow evening, I’m going to lead a discussion group with some brilliant people, namely David Frey, Paul Biggs, Todd Kenefsky, Dawn Foster, and Marshall Kirkpatrick. Dawn is planning on doing a write up after our meeting and I plan to add to it.

This whole series has been fascinating. I really need to spend some time on pipes. I can imagine so many different uses, so having the patience to learn it is the biggest challenge. Thanks for the nudge!

From Jim Hathaway on January 14th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Right on, Jim! If you come up with any sweet pipes, drop me a link here. :)

From Justin on January 15th, 2008 at 10:54 am

What say you about all of this?

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