The document sharing site Docstoc, now out of beta, is announcing that it will start splitting advertising revenue with users who upload content to the service, in a new program called DocCash.
Using the Google AdSense API, Docstoc will crawl through uploaded documents, put related ads alongside them, and send the person who uploaded a document half the Google revenue when users click through to ads that run next to it.
This change to Docstoc is part of the company's new plan to help users monetize content, but CEO Jason Nazar harbors no illusion that it will make his users rich. Although he thinks a lot of people could make "$50 a month without too much effort, maybe more if they promote their docs on Twitter and Facebook."
Future changes may increase user revenue more. Today's new ads only show up on the Docstoc site itself, for example. An upcoming revision will let ads show up on embedded documents (embedding is a key feature for the service). Actually allowing users to sell access to documents is also coming. "It's the direction we're headed in. It's a two-phase process," Nazar says.
Few services built on user-generated content actually give users a share of revenue, and Docstoc's new direction may indicate an interesting trend, even if most people won't make much money from shared ad revenue. Worse, attaching dollars to user-generated content will likely cause a surge in the uploading of plagiarized or copyrighted material, which Docstoc staffers will have to work hard to stay ahead of.
However, it's a milepost on the road to giving users something tangible in return for their uploads. And it's a smart move for Docstoc, since it does give the company a financial leg up on competitors Slideshare and Scribd.
Nazar says he expects his company to become profitable this year. Docstoc first raised venture funds a year ago, and has taken in $4 million so far. The site gets about 4.8 million unique users a month. Nazar has produced a video walk-through of DocCash.