Healing What Ails Social Media

A new app from a Mendham surgeon aims to put advertising revenue into the hands of users who create content.

It’s not unusual for even busy physicians to moonlight in other areas, but Dr. Michael Nusbaum’s side project is a bit more ambitious than most. All he wants to do is turn the business model for social media on its head.
In July, the bariatric surgeon from Mendham Township launched a social-media app called Bonzo Me that plans to share advertising revenue with users who create content.

“When you are posting videos on YouTube or photos on other social networks, they are getting value from your content, but you’re not getting anything,” says Nusbaum. Yes, users get free access to the networks, but Nusbaum says that’s not enough. “You just created a really cool video or maybe wrote a blog about something, and you have all these followers, but you’re not really getting anything for it. I wanted to change that.”

According to 2012 data from the technology news site Mashable, every minute of the day, Facebook users share 684,478 pieces of content, YouTube users upload 48 hours of new video and Instagram users share 3,600 photos.

Unlike those sites, Bonzo Me’s stated aim is to empower consumers. Advertisers have the option of latching onto posts; once a sponsored post hits a threshold determined by the advertiser, the poster starts earning up to 80 percent of the ad revenue generated by that post. Hypothetically, says Nusbaum, “If you happen to have a really cool video of you doing a trick on your bike, and it goes viral and gets 3 million hits and generates $100,000 in advertising revenue, you get $80,000.” The remaining 20 percent would go to Bonzo Me.

Brands can also use Bonzo Me as a virtual focus group. “I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have maybe 1 million people give you their opinion of a commercial or ad before you run it?” Nusbaum says.

Nusbaum, a 48-year-old father of three, is hardly a rookie entrepreneur. His practice, the Obesity Treatment Centers of New Jersey, has offices in Livingston and Morristown. The New Jersey native—voted a Jersey Choice Top Doctor every year since 2007—also founded Giffen Solutions, a 4-year-old company that created MedXCom, an app that lets doctors securely perform virtual house calls with their patients.

So far, Bonzo Me has just a handful of advertisers. The app claims 10,000 registered users, 5,000 unique visits per day and 250 downloads a day. “We are growing rapidly,” Nusbaum says. “The next step will be to create channels as opposed to this mass of things you have to try to get through. We’ll have to filter it a bit so you can find what you’re looking for….We’re playing a little catch-up right now.”

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