Wikis -- those democratically created encyclopedias -- are a perfect match for niche publishers to aggregate expertise in a given universe while generating advertising revenue. And local wikis will be the next big thing.
Now that many of the top players are in the Wiki biz
(per Marketwatch), the collaborative tool will grow in popularity both as a corporate research tool, and as a specialty search engine.
One of the greatest potential opportunities for wikis are regional sites. Imagine having an unbiased site about visiting and living in cities, designed and maintained by the people who know the area best. Passionate city-dwellers will be happy to rate and grouse about their favorite party spots and restaurants, as well as offering practical information about transportation or finding a roommate. I haven't seen many of these yet, with the exception of one for parks in Utah
, but this is too good an idea to pass up. CitySearch, be very afraid.
Google, Yahoo, and even eBay will offer wikis
, and this will create ample ad inventory. I would expect that with its years of database expertise, Microsoft will offer both corporate and public wiki tools soon.
Because wikis focus on a specific hobby or industry, the ads can be targeted to like-minded individuals and should have higher click through rates than ads on generic sites. The social and user-generated nature of wikis should increase consumer confidence. However, if advertisers don't live up to their promises, they will hear about it loud and strong from the communities who will want to protect the integrity of the sites.