Friday, December 31, 2004

Microsoft Passport Canceled, Content eCommerce Dominance Still Up for Grabs

The LA Times noted along with other major outlets that eBay had posted a quiet announcement that it had ceased supporting the use of Microsoft's Passport "wallet" service as a means of payment. Microsoft confirmed that in the future the Passport feature will be used to manage logins to Microsoft-owned content and media properties but would no longer be used to support general payment services. Microsoft is just the latest in a long string of players who have tried to dominate online purchasing with "grand unification" schemes which have made both purchasers and sellers uneasy with attempted dominance of privacy and profits. But in truth the proliferation of content-consuming platforms is to blame as much as any other factor: too many people use too many different devices to make the Windows-oriented Passport scheme a successful play in the long run. The world of content ecommerce still does not have an effective universal backbone for managing subscriptions to premium content online, an area still dominated by major aggregators in business and professional content and by a number of small players in individually-oriented media. Shore expects 2005 to be a year in which clear patterns in simplified content ecommerce for individuals and institutions to begin to emerge, focused on the need for content ecommerce to allow usage rights for content objects to flow naturally from platform to platform.

Headlines for 31 December 2004

Searching for IBM
Desktop Search: The Game Is Afoot
Ebrary's ISIS Creates E-Collections
OPA: Spending on Online Paid Content Climbs 14%
No-go zone for Passport
What is the single most challenging Sarbanes-Oxley issue today? Robert Olson, CEO of Stellent, Answers
SEA-EAT Blog Mobilizes Fast For Tsunami Relief
BitTorrent Operator Bites Back at MPAA
Longhorn, blogs, Linux: Predicting 2005
Longhorn downsizing may threaten licensing

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Headlines for 30 September 2004

Microsoft to Curtail Passport Service
FCC Will Auction Spectrum, Targets Wireless Broadband
A New Script for Searching Texts Written by Hand
Wikinews Offers Content From Citizen Journalists
The EContent 100: A useful toolbox for your Web site
Google Sandbox Mode Demythified
D&M Holdings and Tribune Media Services in Strategic Alliance for Interactive Program Guide Solutions
Data Depth Corporation Terminates Print Craft/Valeo License
Extracting Meaning From Content: FAST Speaks Out
New ContentGuard DRM patents

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Headlines for 29 December 2004

Larry Page And Sergey Brin: Information At Warp Speed
4.1 Million People A Week Listen To Three Major Online Radio Networks
2004 in Review: Perspectives
Computer, Microphone, iPod Make Broadcasting Personal
ProQuest Introduces Author Profiles, Enhanced LAD User Interface
ClearForest Recognized by NIST; Scores Highest in Automatic Content Extraction for Arabic Language
FinancialContent Announces Approval for Listing in Mergent Manual and News Reports(TM)
Launch of Launches Original Video Content; New ChannelGuide Opens Advertising Opportunities
Cook eBooks Has Made Its Debut on the Internet, Selling Inexpensive Electronic Cookbooks

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Gartner Gobbles up Meta: The Market for I.T. Advice Gets Harder to Mine via Traditional Methods

CNET News notes the long-in-the-works selloff of Meta Group to rival Gartner for for $162 million in cash. Meta has been struggling to be profitable for some time, while Gartner is now eking out hair-width profits in a market for I.T. research that has seen new arrivals such as TechTarget scraping off much of the front end of content profits that can be offered in this segment. This appears to be largely a "boots on the ground" approach to sales development, as Gartner hopes to leverage a Meta sales force already familiar with its rival and able to position Gartner products in segments where their efforts have not overlapped. It's a merger long overdue, but unanswered is whether the combined forces of these two firms can address the inherent weaknesses in a market for I.T. management consulting that increasingly wants solutions recommenders to be solutions providers and content to come from a mixture of publishers, peers and vendors. Firms like Gartner struggle mightily to maintain a big-ticket approach to combined content and advisory services that will pose a greater challenge as firms like TechTarget succeed with increasingly broad portions of the content side of the business. It's not that Gartner doesn't matter anymore so much as there are so many other things that matter that deliver important value to its target market in more flexible ways that its approach to getting a healthier "share of wallet" from both content and services has to be questioned.

Street Meets Elite: Webloggers Create Their Own Buzz to Move into High Circles

The recent Newsweek article on the upward mobility of recognized webloggers notes that the medium is accelerating the path for some who are lucky enough to gain cherished links from blog "big dogs", in the process becoming amplifiers of importance themselves with incredible speed. The core example given is the speed with which the concept of "podcasting", cobbling radio-like audio programs into weblogs that can be consumed on iPods and other portable devices, became a widespread buzz in the general media thanks to some of the key "Alpha bloggers" who picked up on some of these emerging trends, accelerating the Malthusian growth of podcasting references. It's interesting that podcasting is the example, because in many ways weblogs represent the kind of grass-roots interest in content by key voices that used to power the radio industry before it was swallowed whole by major corporations. With no artificial supply constraint such as government licenses to limit its growth, weblogs promise radio-like efficiency for broadcasting both content and concepts to highly targeted audiences that react viscerally to hipness and truth as much as teens wriggling to Elvis Presley tunes on the radio did in the 1950's. Today's weblog Elvises have more opportunities and techniques to get noticed than did those early popular music stars, with monetization beginning to come online in full force as a reward.

Pearson Profits Punkish at FT, Targets Textbook Tonic, but Issues Run Deeper

The Wall Street Journal offers up an interesting profile of Pearson PLC and its CEO Marjorie Scardino's efforts to focus the sprawling publishing empire "like a laser" on its core education, financial news and book publishing units. Hmm, never knew a laser could focus in three unrelated directions. While Pearson may not face some of the dilemmas that conglomerates such as McGraw-Hill must address (time for that Standard & Poor's spinoff?), the truth is that large publishing empires built up largely in a pre-Web era are faced with a galaxy of issues trying to scale their operations efficiently for divergent content markets that no longer operate like a string of contented cows. Education markets are very lucrative but require packaging and marketing efforts that offer less and less operational synergy with trade book publishing and financial news, two sectors in which profits are increasingly elusive and perhaps headed for permanent downtrends without radical intervention.

Large holding companies for publishing serve many purposes, but it's not clear that the repurposeable general management "know-how" that once allowed executive talent to flow from division to division and make an impact increasingly requires a new set of management techniques to define success in today's content markets. Those managemet tools are both more general in terms of dealing with a flattening of the general marketplace for content and an increasingly user-focused application of that content in specific market sectors. There will doubtless be a place for large corporations in publishing for many years to come, but unless they focus more on developing management talent that can reapply lessons of how to succeed with vContent in multiple market settings they're not likely to be the large holding companies that we know today for very long.

Headlines for 28 December

The Alpha Bloggers
Blogs Provide Raw Details From Scene of the Disaster
Information wave: Today’s real-time disaster relief may be tomorrow’s real-time rescue effort.
Gartner acquires smaller rival Meta
Pearson's Plans Face Big Test
Study: Craigslist Costs Bay Area Papers $50M in Ad Revenue
Google’s Library Project: Questions, Questions, Questions
Viral Marketing and Media: Mutually Exclusive?
Steinbeck's hometown to close all its libraries
Digital music: flat fee futures

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Shore Welcomes Patricia Joseph to our Expanding Team of Industry Analysts

Please join us in welcoming Patricia Joseph, our new Senior Analyst, to Shore's expanding team of industry experts ready to service your needs for industry-leading insights through our research and advisory services. Patricia brings to Shore a deep understanding of new information product and service development, competitive analysis, e-business and turnarounds that's sure to be of great interest to Shore's core clients. In addition to her own highly successful independent practice she has held senior management positions at Dun & Bradstreet, ACNielsen, The Washington Post and Hanley-Wood. We know that you will welcome Patricia's contributions to our publications and services and look forward to introducing you to her capabilities in the months ahead.

Click here to read Patricia's team profile

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News Analysis - Crystal Ball Redux: Looking Back on Shore's 2004 Forecast - and Peeking at 2005

Last year at this time Shore's crystal ball was bringing into focus many trends in content that may have been hard to believe for some - yet the ol' sphere seems to have had a pretty good year of target practice. From the rise of the Publishing Organization and The New Aggregation to the monetization of Weblogs to the commercial success of DRM-managed content, many of the trends forecast last year unfolded on schedule, while some such as weblogs exploded with even more vengeance than even we had anticipated. Join us as we look back on the progress of our predictions and take a gander at how these trends will fare next year.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headlines for 27 December

Will Google stay as hot as its lava lamps?
At I.B.M., That Google Thing Is So Yesterday
Are Media Buyers Facing Extinction?
FinancialContent Develops IMV 1.0 to Track Momentum Stocks
Google Designs an Engine for Eggheads
Digital inheritance raises legal questions
Fate of ALA's Midwinter Meeting Stirs Debate
SEO Gurus Merge Services To Form
2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist
$10 for a Plain CD or $32 With the Extras

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Friday, December 24, 2004

Headlines for 24 December 2004

Where The Real Internet Money Is Made
Groups Debate Use of Digital Information After Death
'St. Louis Post-Dispatch' Blogger Outed, Suspended
Wikis at Work
SMART Expands Product Offering with Actalyst Interactive Digital Signage
ED2K and Bittorrent raids
New Year's resolution for Firefox: Grow
Innovative Adds B&T’s Content Café
Adobe Reader 7 now available
PDAs Come of Age

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Headlines for 23 December 2004

U. Nebraska, With ProQuest, Digitizes All Dissertations
Bacon's Cuts through the Blog-Clutter; New Service Mines the Blogosphere for Relevant Content
Magazines Sort Drinking-Age Readers for Ads
Free ebooks from Project Gutenberg
Europe's Newspapers Adopt Tabloid Format To Boost Circulation
Statement of SIIA on the Order From the EU Court of First Instance
Innovation vs. Copyright: Supreme Court Must Find a Balance in a World of Easily Shared Content
Mashboxx Aims to Make File Sharing Legit
The [very] ugly side of DRM
The Weed Files to Host CD Baby's Catalogue, Largest Independent Music Seller on the Web

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Road Test: VIYYA(TM) Brings High-Power Content Extraction Tools to the Masses

I downloaded the new VIYYA tool from Viyya Technologies, Inc. shortly after its announced commercial availability last week, but received no follow-ups to prompt me to give it a spin. But its little icons continued to pop up in the notification window of my Windows taskbar, so I finally took a little time to give it a whirl. The VIYYA pitch is to provide "automating and managing "favorites" and routine search functions, and reducing the time an individual spends online by as much as 30 to 40 percent!" per the press release. VIYYA provides a point-and-click method to define content that one wants extracted from various sources and to be able to easily form that information into alerts streams and to search extracted content via VIYYA's own search utility. A neat concept, but how does it play?

Clicking on the VIYYA icon on the Windows taskbar links to a browser-based program that allows one to select a target source - Web pages in the free trial version and presumably adding the greyed-out options of local databases, email, RSS feeds and weblogs in the premium version. Once a page is up you point your cursor to what you want to be a headline and click: VIYYA then decides what's a headline. Click the next item that you want as a headline and VIYYA builds the pattern to follow - and so on for summaries and text bodies until you've built your "anchor". The "build anchor set" tab in the program then allows you to associate one or more "anchors" into a set of outputs with specific formatting. You can then set up alerting to have these sources extracted on a regular basis and searched via the VIYYA search utility.

It's a nicely designed interface and workflow from many perspectives, but it's still a work in progress in the using. VIYYA does fairly well at identifying blocks of text for headlines and such but it's very eager to pick stuff that's not appropriate - and not very willing to let you tune it easily. The ticker window is like a private RSS feed of sorts and the search window a private Google Desktop, but it's also available to a limited range of applications (email and mobile phone oriented SMS alerts so far). A very useful tool for people on the go fingering their Blackberries or mobile phones, but limited in use for the desktop so far. Given the limited output format that it's trying to produce it would be very useful if it could republish the content into an RSS stream that could be used by local applications without resorting to email. You'll have some local search capabilities indirectly via email search, but that's less than optimal.

VIYYA offers an interesting foray into a service-based approach to personal content extraction - available for a subscription at USD 9.95 a month or USD 79.00 annually. Content extraction of this kind was once the exclusive purview of major institutions and now through this service becomes available to individuals needing to create their own personalized content streams. Many purveyors of content extraction technology fall short of understanding how to create user-oriented content value out of their wares, but VIYYA is barking up at least some of the right trees to enable individuals and institutions to become their own powerful sources of content aggregation.

Headlines for 22 December 2004

Court upholds Microsoft sanctions
Bloggers, Citizen Media and Rather's Fall -- Little People Rise Up in 2004
Despite Earlier Predictions, 'Free' Web Is Going Strong
2005 Predictions - The Coming Year of Hyperfragmentation
Gallup: Online News Hasn't Beaten Old Media -- Yet
Microsoft sells Slate magazine
Yahoo! unveils video search
American Lawyer Media Chooses NewsStand For Digital Delivery of The National Law Journal
Pamela Springer Selected to Lead ECNext; Former Vice President of Sales named President and CEO Adds Comparison Shopping Through Exclusive Partnership with
Healthnostics Enters Digital Rights Partnership with Valeo IP
BostonWorks Launches ''The Job Hunt''; Tools and Information Help Job Seeker Find The Next Opportunity

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Verity Teams with Yahoo! for Integrated Search and Ads

As noted by eWeek and other publications enterprise search engine provider Verity has integrated Web searches into its enterprise search platforms, including not only the raw search listings but Overture-serviced contextual ads provided by Yahoo!'s search service. Verity will take a percentage of the click revenues Yahoo! gains from these ads, placing Verity in one swipe of a mouse into the revenue-generating content business. While traditional aggregators serving institutional markets test the waters of contextual ads behind the firewall gingerly, this bold move marks a huge step towards enterprise search engines positioning themselves far more effectively as gateways to the full range of content value found online today. While it's a long way from this point to the full-range subscription services offered by major aggregators, there is going to be a race to the middle of these two relative extremes to a point at which enterprises will have search access to all external content via one provider, with commercial terms managed in a number of models that may or may not rely upon the search provider's infrastructure. We're betting on "not" as the long-term trend, which is more likely to favor technology specialists like Verity and Vignette within the institutional framework over traditional aggregators.

XML Extended with XInclude Capabilities for Greater Content Reusability

You may not care to poke through the technical details of the W3C recommendation for XInclude, here's the short version, as covered in W3C's press release: XML standards now make it far easier to assemble modules of content into an XML-managed content and application framework. Where prior XML definitions were rather fussy about managing external entities XInclude is far more forgiving and flexible, allowing default content to be supplied if the included content is not available when invoked. In short, digital content objects can be assembled within this framework from a series of content subcomponents. This could be as simple as taking the output of a database query and plugging it into an XML document or could be as complex as an XML-defined personal online newspaper that aggregates content from multiple XML-defined content objects into a coherent display. But where are the modular content objects to include into this scenario? Mostly within XML-savvy institutions right now, but expect publishers to take a careful look at XInclude for innovative new ways to package their content for modular use. We hope.

Headlines for 21 December

Google fixes security flaw in desktop search
BitTorrent file-swapping networks face crisis
Will online archive access lure subscribers?
Bear Stearns More Than Doubles Desktop Deployment of Thomson ONE
ContentGuard Bulks up Property Portfolio
Thomson Financial Adds Twelve Independent Research Firms To Its Premium Research Collection
W3C Issues XInclude 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation; XInclude Makes It Easier to Create Reusable Content
FinancialContent Launches Finesse 1.0 for Online Publishers of RSS News Channels
Digital Garage and Technorati Sign Distribution Agreement
Complinet Plays Host to Enhanced NASD Manual

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Monday, December 20, 2004

In Premium Weblogs: MarketWatch Shares Still Moving Higher Despite Dow Jones Bid , Nasdaq Files for $100 Million Secondary Stock Offering

In our Finance premium weblog Shore Analyst Jack McConville provides decisive insights on these and other late-breaking events in the world of financial content.

Click here for subscriber access or here to sign up for a complimentary trial subscription

News Analysis - Open Stacks: Pondering the Value of Copyrighted Content in a World of Online Archives

Another week, another earth-shattering headline about the machinations of Google. Or is it so earth-shattering? Google's plan to scan materials without clear copyright in major libraries is really just a continuation of their original battle plan. What's more at question is how publishers and aggregators have been asleep at the wheel in thinking that copyright law would promise them growth - as opposed to how it is protecting dwindling profits based on old business models. Content value is exploding in electronic form, much of it well beyond the purview of traditional copyright protection. The effective use of copyright is far from dead, but its users must adapt to an era of getting to know its client base in far more cooperative ways.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Copyscape Designed to Track Plagiarism Online, But Opens the Door for More Uses

A very handy new tool called Copyscape has been announced is making its debut, an online site that allows you to plug in a given URL and follow who's been pinching your prose in the online world. This bone-simple lookup service is bait for a questionnaire that probes what people would be willing to pay for an alerts service based on this technology. Notably also, though, the service comes with a small banner that can be embedded in a page indicating that a given page of content is monitored by the service. This is copyright enforcement with teeth, if you will: the copyright notifications found on most Web pages are about as effective as "Beware of the Dog" signs in yards without a pooch. While this tool may not prevent content from escaping behind firewalls or onto personal devices for illicit reuse, it's a step in the right direction towards awareness of rights monitoring as the best way to protect a publisher's intellectual property in the realm of text content. It's a crude tool for now, but expect services such as this to evolve into a standard part of the online publishing infrastructure. It's a concept that may also evolve from mere rights awareness to content use awareness, enabling sites to collect link references on a proactive basis without having to resort to trackback mechanisms. Content awareness can create and enforce content value on many levels.

Book Publishers Contemplate Going Direct, Following Journals' Footsteps

The New York Times notes notes the pending plans of Random House to start selling its wares direct to consumers via its own Web site, hoping to improve on its margins as book store sales continue to wallow in the doldrums. Given the advanced state of online content shopping offered by sites such as Amazon this may seem to be a rather chimeric effort by the major publishing house, but looking at the efforts of today's journals to find their place in the online world without the help of traditional aggregators perhaps it's not no unwise. With the movement of content towards an increasingly uniform and universal search infrastructure and tools such as weblogs making aggregation much more of a personal matter, perhaps Random House is getting more in line with today's content ecommerce trends, wittingly or unwittingly. Web publishing has allowed more high-value personal relationships with authors and publishers in many venues, including but hardly limited to Weblogs. If Random House sets up shop with just another storefront, it's likely what we can say "so what?" to some degree. But if they use this new venue to prepare for the future of highly personalized publishing, then they may just be on to the core of tomorrow's book publishing essentials.

Auctioning of Corporate Blogging Services Accelerates Weblog Monetization

As noted in a press release from i-newswire the best practices of online ecommerce have reached the world of weblogging as veteran bloggers Darren Barefoot and Jeremy Wright auctioned off their corporate blogging services on eBay, generating a bidding war or sorts for the services of these established webloggers. I've held for a long time that certain forms of content are going to be open to the auction model increasingly, especially in venues such as finance where the model is well established. The weblogger is one step away from content auctioning, but it represents another solid move towards monetization of weblogs that comes close to closing the loop on the "how can weblogs be monetized?" question that some have been asking while others have been answering it. Content for hire has been a strong trend this year in ad-oriented venues, so it's not surprising that the institutional arena is beginning to pick up on this as well. Talented webloggers have many logical channels now through which to peddle their wares. In the era of vContent, in which today's leading publishers are the individuals and institutions equipped with powerful and affordable publishing technologies, that should come as no surprise.

Headlines for 20 December

Reuters to Acquire Telerate
On the Open Internet, a Web of Dark Alleys
Google Plan Mostly Hailed by Librarians
ISP wins $1 billion in spam suit
As Sales Flag, Publisher Eyes Retailers' Turf
Computer, microphone, iPod make broadcasting personal
The Friendster of photo sites
eBay Blogger Auction Sparks Blog Consultancy
Copyscape Launches Global Web Rights Campaign to Fight Website Plagiarism
eLaw Presents Jury Verdict Review & Analysis
ContentGuard Awarded Five New Digital Rights Management Patents
ScienceDirect(R) Launches New Release
Goebel Group Releases First Comprehensive Desktop Search Comparison Matrix

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Friday, December 17, 2004

Breaking News: Reuters Deal for Telerate on Near Horizon

The following article from Dow Jones News indicates that the long-assumed acquisition of Telerate by Reuters is eminent. The article quotes Shore's own Jack McConville noting that "Adding that many terminals all at one time, in an environment where you can't sign up many new terminals, would be a big deal, even if it gets cut to 15,000. These days vendors are crowing about signing up 700 terminals." Where is the consolidating market data industry heading? Jack will have some interesting numbers to share with you shortly, details to follow. Feel free to contact us for information.

Click Fraud: No Passing Fad

By now, you should be familiar with the term "click fraud" which refers to the act of repeatedly clicking on paid search links to either fraudulently make money, or to create an expense for those you don't like (such as a competitor).

We've addressed click fraud in columns past, citing the investigative news stories coming out of India suggesting that there are sizable organizations in place that exist solely for the purpose of committing click fraud. Click fraud is an important development for B2B publishers to be aware of. Most don't employ the pay-per-click business model, and thus their advertisers can't fall victim to click fraud, an advantage that many B2B publishers should be quick to emphasize to prospective advertisers.

But how big is click fraud really? It's getting a lot of attention lately, but how prevalent is it?. Reliable statistics on illegal activities like this don't exist, and the search engines have all been taking steps to implement technological solutions to reduce click fraud. So is click fraud a tempest in a teapot? We were starting to think so, until we saw this stunning quote from George Reyes, Google's CFO, speaking at a major investment conference hosted by CSFB this week:

"I think something has to be done about [click fraud] really, really quickly, because I think, potentially, it threatens our business model."

As one insight into the size of the problem, Jessie Stricchiola, the president of Alchemist Media, a paid search consulting firm, told CNN that she estimates that as much as 20 percent of all clicks on paid search ads are fraudulent, and she contends that not all search engines have been as aggressive as they could be about combating click fraud. Of Google she noted, "Google has been the most stubborn and the least willing to cooperate with advertisers" that complain about click fraud.

Published reports indicate that click fraud was a primary topic of conversation at recent conferences sponsored by Jupiter and Majestic Research as well. There are now open discussions in investment circles about how exposed the major search engines may be with regard to click fraud, and some analysts are even suggesting a close watch on companies such as eBay and Amazon, which are heavy buyers of paid search, and thus have a greater exposure to fraud.

In our view, click fraud is simply one more illustration of what continues to be most problematic about "pay for performance" advertising: it looks great as long as you don't look too closely. Yes, search engines only get paid if they perform, but for most B2B marketers, "performance" means having traffic shipped to their sites. If that's all you want, great. But if you're depending on paid search for qualified leads or sales, maybe it's performing, maybe it's not. Nobody really knows for sure. And even if the search engines are able to wipe out the scourge of click fraud, they remain resistant to looking too closely at the remaining legitimate clicks they generate for advertisers. To the search engines, all clicks are created equal, and they need it to stay that way. Because if it becomes clear that not all clicks are of equal value and quality to the advertiser, guess what? Advertisers will want to pay less for all clicks, or only pay for the best quality clicks. Either scenario is bad news for the search engines, for whom your ignorance is their bliss.

Headlines for 17 December 2004

Google vs. Yahoo: Heavyweights attack from different angles
eBay to buy for $415 million
Verity and Yahoo! Partner to Integrate Enterprise Search with Web Search
Strangers in the Stacks
P2P Needs a Fix, but What?
Froogle turns to Web for product reviews
Yahoo Adds Traffic Reports To Maps Service
Spam set to rise in 2005
Excess Copyright?
Verity Acquires Dralasoft

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Headlines for 16 December 2004

Google's Plan Prompts a Question: What's on the Web? (audio - includes comments by Brewster Kahle)
LexisNexis Acquires Interface: Serving legal vertical initially, but expanding outwards
I was fired for blogging: Ellen Simonetti
Time Warner Expects to Settle AOL Inquiries for $510 Million
Judge Dismisses One Crucial Claim Made in Suit Against Google
Politics — on the light side: New Web site mixes gossip, news and information
Conquering the Digital Haystack
Groxis Launches 'Search-and-Research' Platform for the Education Market
Blackboard Course Cartridge Catalog Grows to More Than 3,500 Course Offerings
Viyya Technologies-Pink Sheets: VYON-Announces Software Now Commercially Available

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Two Directories are Better Than One? Allies with ThomasB2B

The announcement of a new alliance between Find/SVP and ThomasB2B to provide with ThomasB2B's advanced pay-per-click ad matching technology will deliver highly targeted ad content to's end-users, a significant improvement over the more broadly targeted ads in the current product. It's an interesting mix of capabilities: provides strong categorized listings of industrial components and a rich array of complementary ads tied to these categories, while uses search technology from TripleHop to consolidate business-oriented listings from the open Web or enterprise content and complementary premium research listings. Somewhere between these two approaches there may be a highly successful business instead of two reasonably successful businesses. There's a strong need for well-integrated business product content and it's still early days in these efforts to draw it together into an effective framework. Thomas adds effective technology and integration to a tried and true business model, while Find/SVP experiments to find an effective business model with a wider range of content and capabilities. It would help if these combined efforts would focus more on distinguishing research needs from purchasing needs: I may not think of going to Froogle to find durometers to buy, but all things being equal I can find them - along with some very effectively targeted contextual ads. Still a ways to go in getting business product content up to full speed for facilitating high-powered ecommerce.

Headlines for 15 December 2004

Google desktop search not enterprise-ready
Library Buildings 2004 -- It Just Keeps Booming
Newspaper Woes Are Black and White
Google's Library Project Could Drive Content Contest
Exploding the Big Music myth
FTC focuses on file swapping
HD Radio Offers Tantalizing Hope for Niche, Hyperlocal Radio Content
FIND.COM Launches Online B2B Sourcing Directory in Partnership with
Peopleclick Selects FAST Data Search to Help Clients
Viyya Technologies Launches Interactive Website to Support Product Release

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Google Scholar Flunking Relationships 101?

In any channel distribution relationship, maintaining some control over where and how one's content is sold (or otherwise made available) is important to the content owner. Herein lies the problem with Google Scholar. Many publishers were surprised by the recent soft launch of Google Scholar, since they were not consulted about their involvement in the program. Rather, in some cases, channel partners took it upon themselves to open this new point of entry without obtaining official permission from the original publishers. In other cases, the articles crawled by Google are directly available to nonsubscribers on publisher sites.

Given the reach of Google, most publishers could be convinced to work with the search engine giant on projects that would increase the discoverability of their for-fee or behing-the-firewall content, provided that the publishers maintain a good understanding of the new channel and receive sufficient information about the usage of the channel. In fact, Google has been collaborating with CrossRef on an initiative called CrossRef Search, which is done with the involvement of nine scholarly publishers and is running a pilot program in 2004. Apparently, the Google Scholar team didn't communicate its plans to the CrossRef Search group.

It may have been easier for Google to side-step the process of contacting the original publishers in order to get the product out quickly in a "beta test" environment, but Google may have opened a can of worms by creating distrust among the STM publishing community regarding Google's intentions to respect content owners. Could it be this underlying distrust that is the real driver behind the recent ACS suit against Google?

Headlines for 14 December 2004

Google Is Adding Major Libraries to Its Database
Microsoft debuts desktop search tool
Newspapers Want to Charge for Content, but Will Readers Pay?
Redefining the News Online
Management Changes At Elsevier And RBI Netherlands
The Emergence Of Geoportals
Pearson to Sell Spanish Publisher Recoletos for $988.6 Million
Relive the Moment by Searching Your IM Logs with Custom Research Services
Endeca Selected As Exclusive Provider of Guided Navigation For New IBM DB2 Search Software
Rocketinfo First Search Engine to Release News Search API

Net Snippets Announces Free Post-Search Tool
ProQuest to Buy Reading Program Firm

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Monday, December 13, 2004

Google Enables the Digital Library

Complete digitization of books in and out of print has been a pipe dream for researchers and librarians for many years, but there has always been a major stumbling block--money! Now technology and the money generated by the very successful Google IPO will be used to further this dream of wide access to the world's knowledge contained in those authoritative works. Google has announced partnerships with major university libraries at Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Michigan, as well as the New York Public Library to digitize their collections. This is no small task, since Michigan's library alone contains 7 million library volumes representing 132 miles of books, and will require about six years to scan. Even with vast improvements in scanning technology, this is still a laborious process to get so many books into electronic form. Searching this volume of information will be challenging even for Google technology, and will likely force new features.

It is significant that the emphasis is on scholarly and out of print books which have essentially been unavailable, except to those few who could travel and study collections. Now, all these books will be searchable, though the full copy may not be readily available due to copyright restrictions. But there is another piece which solves that problem with OCLC WorldCat Project with library holdings. So ideally as a researcher, I could search Google Books, locate the libraries who owned the book and checkout the ebook to do my reading, all from my laptap....ah, the scholar's ideal!

News Analysis - Patent Medicine: Google Keeps Innovating to Keep on Maximizing Content Value

An ailing content industry is turning to technology innovation more than ever to shake itself out of the doldrums of declining revenues and wobbly business models. But it's hard to keep up with the Googles of the world that are out there patenting up a storm to lock in truly innovative developments in content technologies aimed at very human-scaled content value. Google's latest patent filings hope to make it easier for paper content to find value on the Web in highly innovative ways. Where were the publishers and aggregators in this mix? Gnashing their teeth while ignoring the need for fundamental innovations that lead in forming content value. vContent is not always an easy equation to balance, but without technology innovation in the mix it doesn't add up to success.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

In Premium Weblogs: Thomson Financial Closes Out 2004 on the Upswing, Media Week - More on Dow Jones & MarketWatch

In our Finance premium weblog Shore Analyst Jack McConville provides decisive insights on these and other late-breaking events in the world of financial content.

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Headlines for 13 December

Can IBM be Google for business?
Supreme Court to Review File-Sharing Ruling
Court Case Pits Google and Geico
Calls for Open Access Challenge Academic Journals
LexisNexis(R) Acquires Interface Software for More Powerful Legal and Professional CRM Products
Entopia enriches England
SilkRoad Launches Eprise Docs, Offers Easy-to-Use Library Services and Doc. Management Capabilities
New Recruitment Web Site Targets Bloggers
Top Publishers Sign With OverDrive to Distribute Download Audio Books
SLA, Elsevier to Announce New Partnership

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pay-Per-Call: A Ringing Endorsement

CitySearch, producer of online consumer city guides (and a subsidiary of InfoCommerce Group's latest favorite, InterActive Corporation), has raised eyebrows with its announcement that it will be offering advertisers a pay-per-call option, in addition to its existing pay-per-click programs. Pay-per-call is analogous to pay-per-click, but the mechanism for capturing and measuring ad effectiveness is phone response rather than clickthroughs. Advertisers run a special number in their online advertisements, each call is tracked by the service provider, and the advertiser pays based on the number of calls received.

What's going on? What we're seeing is increasingly explicit acknowledgement that -- gasp -- clickthroughs are not the same as sales. The great irony here is that the place where pay-per-click advertising apparently doesn't resonate is among smaller, local advertisers, so-called "unsophisticated advertisers" who view pay-per-click as buying increased traffic, not increased business. CitySearch believes, and we concur, that, when it comes to pay for performance, it's a lot easier to prove the value of, and charge for, forwarded phone calls than anonymous clicks. And while it may seem hard to believe, a large percentage of businesses still don't have Web sites, but pay-per-call can work for these companies, while pay-per-click can't. Pay-per-call combines the best of two worlds - the increased reach of the online media, the traditional measurability of direct response and the siren song of "pay for performance." And it proves the significant benefits of viewing old world and new world marketing channels as complementary rather than competing.

While the CitySearch embrace of pay-per-call is significant, real credit for this important development properly goes to FindWhat, which launched the concept back in September. FindWhat is working in partnership with technology provider Ingenio; CitySearch is using technology from CIRXIT. This new technology is already hard at work chasing the huge B2C market, though we would contend the opportunities are just as big in B2B. Unlike the consumer market, B2B buyers are not known for purchasing machine tools, overhead cranes and printing presses through online shopping carts. B2B purchases are typically more complex, with longer sales cycles. At some point the buyer usually picks up the phone to call the seller. That's why showing true return on investment is so difficult for those selling pay-per-click programs to B2B companies. A pay-per-call capability is a much more apt and convincing selling tool for B2B publishers.

So keep your eye on pay-per-call. For B2B buying guide publishers, this is one killer app that can actually live up to its promise

Headlines for 10 December 2004

Yahoo! Partners with X1 for Desktop Search
Google Magazine Search?
Google offers a suggestion
Reuters to Shift More Jobs, With Some Moving to India
EU safer internet plans approved
Why Rankings Rankle So Easily
Mobile Infrastructure Needs to Get Moving
FactSet Selects Reuters Fundamentals For Global Company Fundamental Information
Wolters Kluwer Corporate & Financial Services Acquires PCi Corporation
PR Newswire and Firstock Join Forces to Offer Greater Access to Chinese-Language News
Moreover Technologies Gives Bloggers Free Tools to Significantly Increase Content Distribution
iPressroom Adds RSS, Other Enhancements
Schwab Institutional Provides Independent Investment Advisors With Fresh Resource for Reg. Requirements
SIIA Confers Record Reward to Software Piracy Whistleblower

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Headlines for 9 December 2004

Dispatches from the Big Newspaper-Biz Conferences
Britons growing 'digitally obese'
Livewire: News and info junkies take new look at RSS
Personalization & Litigation the Keywords for 2005, says Leading Search Engine Industry Expert
SLA Establishes Government Information Division
LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Launches New Experts & Services Directory for Legal Professionals
Experian Plans Household Targeting for TV Advertisers
LexisNexis acquires handbook publisher
Oracle Redefines Enterprise Content Management With Launch of Oracle(R) Files 10g
LexisNexis Enhances Accurint Product Suite With Powerful Deep Skip Search
Wikis Move Deeper Into The Enterprise As Atlassian Announces Confluence 1.3

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Inbox Report: Reuters Launches Business Channel on Vodafone Live

I received the following press release from Reuters in my inbox this morning, not seeing it on the Web anywhere and it's of some interest to our core clients. Interesting how smart phones have been embraced for core media content, while business content for the most part is still tied to PDAs and Blackberries - but that's starting to shift.


London - Reuters has launched a business and financial news and information channel on Vodafone live! targeted at mobile phone users in the UK. The new subscription service is part of Reuters strategy to grow its media business within the consumer market.

The Reuters service, available for a free 30 day trial on a range of Vodafone Live! handsets, provides the latest news, share prices and financial data direct to Vodafone customers. Powered by Reuters global news operation, customers can choose from a range of news categories including companies and markets, business, technology, world, sports and entertainment.

Using a look up facility, Vodafone customers can see the latest news and share prices on the companies they are following. They can also read market open and close reports from key markets and check on the latest position of the FTSE and many other stock markets around the world.

A quick update on the main stories making headlines can be easily accessed, and many stories are illustrated with news photography provided by Reuters global picture network.

Stephen Smyth, Vice President, Reuters Media, said, "The mobile market offers significant opportunities for Reuters to widen usage of our news and information products amongst business professionals. Vodafone is a key player in the UK and we expect our interactive service to be a powerful addition to their network."

Inbox Report: Changes at Reuters from the Perspective of the Photos Service

A member of my professional alumni network forwarded me an article on the continuing changes at the Reuters news division from the perspective of an old hand in the news photos business. It's gossipy and adds little real light or insight but it's an interesting pub-crawling level view of the changes afoot in the continuing efforts of Reuters to change its structure and culture to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world of news content. Gone or restyled are many of the pubs in which the "old world" news players would test the mettle of their livers as a rite of passage into the clubbish world of High Street journalism, even as the trade itself changes from a guild-oriented safe house to a much more freewheeling business culture. As highlighted by recent reports on BBC's announced sacks (WSJ's) the new requirements of electronic content are not going to stand still for a culture that was never the product itself but an entertaining backdrop that became out of sync with the changing drama of news production.

Headlines for 8 December 2004

ROI: Proving the Value of Intellectual Asset Management
Firefox Spread Leads to Design Scrutiny, Built-In RSS Feeds
Firefox users scorn adverts
AOL lays off 750 employees
What's wrong with RSS is also what's right with it
Yahoo Bolsters Local Search Business Listings
Reporters Trail Badly (Again) in Annual Poll on Honesty and Ethics
LexisNexis RiskWise Launches Service to Combat Insurance Fraud
Gray's Anatomy Undergoes Major Surgery by Elsevier for 39th Edition
FileNet to target Middle East insurance sector with its leading Enterprise Content Management solutions
Merrill Corporation Announces New Version of Its Online Due Diligence Technology

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

TechTarget and Bitpipe: Connecting the Principal Elements of an Online Marketing Campaign

White papers have always fallen into a grey area between informational editorial content and blatant advertising. Complex high-tech products require an understanding of the underlying technology and how it relates to current products and competitive offerings. White papers, often written by external consultants, provide high-tech companies a more appealing way to provide detailed descriptions of their products than would a typical spec sheet written in a documentation style. The spec sheet may still be a necessary companion, but a white paper usually presents a more compelling story that explains the comparative advantages of the new product or service. White papers are a great example of how the lines between editorial content and advertising copy continue to blur, as detailed in my previous paper on Contextual Advertising (sec. 3.5).

Bitpipe, the Boston-based firm that created an online distribution network for white papers for the high-tech industry, has just joined forces with TechTarget as a result of the $40 M acquisition of Bitpipe by TechTarget. Along with TechTarget's editorial portfolio of online and print publications, advertising network, and conference business, Bitpipe brings content syndication, search engine marketing (SEM), and affililate marketing capabilities. Bitpipe also extends into helping customers integrate content from Bitpipe with other external content (e.g., analyst reports). The combined entity provides high-tech companies a new option to integrate multiple elements of their online campaigns with a single "agency". And, don't forget, TechTarget also provides print advertising outlets for several of its targeted segments.

To underscore the importance of offering an integrated platform for communicating with customers and prospects in multiple media, consider the comment from Steve King, Chief Executive of Zenith Optimedia, in a presentation at the UBS Media Week conference in NY yesterday. Steve said that clients are increasingly requiring "interaction between media" in their campaigns. Disjointed campaigns with portions doled out to separate online advertising agencies, search engine marketing (SEM) firms, content syndication outlets, and affiliate marketing networks simply won't make the cut for advertisers that are seeking an effective and measurable multiple-media approach for spending their marketing dollars. TechTarget, with its dual identities as a publishing company and an integrated advertising agency, is well on its way to offering a single point of contact for reaching targeted audiences using a mix of media formats.

p.s. If it seems as though Shore is writing a lot about TechTarget recently, it's simply because they have been very active in acquiring companies and key staff. In addition, TechTarget's success is drawing attention from traditional B2B trade publishers that want to know more about TechTarget's business model.

Headlines for 7 December 2004

BBC Plans to Reduce Work Force by 10%
The Business Of Blogging
Ohio's 24/7 Virtual Reference Service Breaks Usage Records Redesign Unveiled
Accoona Launches, But Isn't Ready for Prime Time
Encryption, data hiding and watermarking
Data federation, integration key to Avaki update
Enpocket and Verizon Wireless Deliver Four New Applications to Verizon Mobile Web 2.0 Subscribers
City of Boise Selects Percussion Software's Rhythmyx 5.5 ECM for Web Presence, to Improve e-Government
America Online Launches New AOL(R) Latino, a Spanish Language Internet Service for U.S. Hispanics

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Monday, December 6, 2004

Weak Dollar Hurts Reed Elsevier and Other STM Publishers

The disappointing earnings forecast from Reed Elsevier in its trading update released on December 2 reflects forecasts quoted in constant currencies, which essentially means that effects of exchange rate fluctuations are removed to reveal growth rates that would have occurred if there had been stable exchange rates over time. As the article in the Independent points out, "[a]bout 60 per cent of the group turnover [revenue] comes in US dollars". With the results quoted in actual current currencies, the forecasts would be "considerably lower" than the "mid to high-single digit" earnings guidance for 2004 provided in the update.

Although the weak dollar is bad news for Reed Elsevier, there is a mitigating factor. Reed Elsevier is not the only publishing company that is being affected by the weak dollar, especially in the Scientific, Technical, and Medical (STM) segment. Nearly all of the top STM companies--Thomson, Wolters Kluwer, Springer, T&F Informa, Blackwell--are based either in Europe or Canada and all of these companies will have their earnings deflated because of the weak US dollar relative to the euro, pound, and Canadian dollar.

On the positive side, there is good news reported from Reed Elsevier. The Education division is coming out of a slump and should experience good growth in 2005. Reed Business is buoyed by growth in online advertising. And, the Legal division is building momentum with its on-schedule integration of the Seisent acquisition and with fast-growth online initiatives in the small law segment.

During the conference call last Thursday led by Sir Crispin Davis, CEO Of Reed Elsevier, the Science and Medical division elicited the most questions from the investment analysts. Davis pointed to flat growth in academic library budgets as the primary challenge for this segment. Although outside analysts continued to press Davis about the impact of the Open Access movement on Elsevier, Davis responded with the facts that renewals for STM journals are strong, e-only subscriptions continue to grow, and article submissions are up 7% year-to-date. But, Elsevier is not sitting still. The Elsevier Science and Medical group continues to invest in new products such as SCOPUS that respond to changing patterns in usage of online STM content.

The weak dollar may be an added challenge to Reed Elsevier and other top STM publishers, but at least it's a challenge that is shared among most of the top players. The exceptions, Wiley and ACS--based in the US--will welcome the advantage that a weak dollar affords them.

News Analysis - Motley Crew: The EContent 100 Reflects the Diversity of a Changing World of Content

This year's EContent 100 list of the companies that matter most in digital content that is assembled by EContent magazine includes Shore Communications Inc. and, oh yes, some other folks that you may have heard of such as Thomson, Google, IBM and the like. "And the like" is a phrase that may be hard for some to grasp when they look at the full breadth of companies receiving this honor, given the diversity of their historic missions. But as the digital content industry focuses on increasingly common goals it's clear that the diversity that EContent magazine has focused on since its inception is beginning to coalesce into a new industry norm that puts the value of content as perceived by its audiences at the fore as never before. Diversity will remain this group's hallmark for some time even as their goals become more common.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headlines for 6 December 2004

Advertising Spending in 2004 Expected to Total $370 Billion
Forbes Removes Ad-Sponsored Links on Site
Wikinews goes online
The Virtually Infinite ROI of Blogs
Get Your LexisNexis AlaCarte!
Everyone's Encyclopedia: Wiki technology allows anyone to write, edit reference articles
Beijing Loves the Web Until the Web Talks Back
Researchers create tool to automatically search handwritten historical documents
PrimeZone Adds America Online, AP Digital; Discusses Trigging Events for 8-Ks
Autonomy Launches IDOL 5.0

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

To Market, To Market: Electronic Marketplaces Draw Buying Guide Focus

One of the most adrenaline-charged corners of the Internet during the dot com boom was occupied by electronic marketplaces. At their peak, over 1,000 of them existed, mostly in B2B verticals. By some estimates, fewer than 100 of them survive today, and the most successful of them are B2C marketplaces.

Electronic marketplaces are important to buying guide publishers because not much separates the two. Indeed, marketplaces offer a logical evolutionary path for buying guides because they support infocommerce precepts of business process integration and adding value by increasing user productivity. Most tantalizing of all, marketplaces hold the promise of transactional revenues, which can far exceed advertising and subscription revenues. It’s the right destination, but the road to this promised land has been a rocky one. (think IndustryNet – ahead of its time and VerticalNet – out of its mind).

Why are consumer marketplaces flourishing while B2B marketplaces struggle? There are three primary reasons. First, consumer marketplaces are a totally new concept, and compete only marginally with local yard sales and flea markets. They’re asking users to do something new, not change their established habits. B2B marketplaces, by contrast, are rigid and highly structured, and often require substantial changes in how users conduct their business. Second, it’s easier to achieve liquidity with consumer marketplaces – enough buyers and sellers to produce satisfactory outcomes on both sides. B2B marketplaces, by contrast, often need fantastically high levels of industry participation to achieve liquidity, and most fail before to achieve it. Third, consumer marketplaces are a borderline form of entertainment. They tend to be the electronic equivalent of noisy bazaars, with personality, pictures, and generally low price-low risk transactions. B2B marketplaces are more typically designed for the “rational” business buyer, so content is factual, quantitative and so uniform that computers can make purchasing decisions – and indeed some B2B marketplaces were designed with exactly that objective. So it’s no wonder that humans have been slow to embrace them.

The most important trend in consumer marketplaces is that they now are moving from the spot market, auction model to more conventional storefronts, where specific merchandise is dependably available at any time. In a sense, they are morphing from flea markets, where you never know what’s on sale, to shopping centers, where you go because you know exactly what you’ll find. This is a significant evolution and one that is now being adapted by business-oriented marketplaces (think eBay Business). With the organization of large collections of vendors in one place with common front-end interfaces for product discovery and ordering, we’re seeing the next-generation of buying guides, and they will present a formidable challenge. For buying guide publishers, the time for pre-emptive moves is now.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Music Meltdown: SNOCAP Points Way Towards Universal Content Objects

As highlighted by CNET News and many other major outlets, the announcement of the launch of SNOCAP, a new service developed under the tutelage of Shawn Fanning, college dropout of Napster fame. Unlike Napster, though, SNOCAP is a licensing and rights management system designed to facilitiate music distribution by major labels and independents through a wide range of channels. SNOCAP has already signed on Universal Music and is expected to receive widespread use amongst major recording labels. While this in and of itself may not have all that much to do with the B2B publishing world today, it is enormously significant in that it is the first object-oriented content rights management system that eschews specific distribution platforms and channels - a model that is going to be the cornerstone of the evolving world of The New Aggregation. By focusing on licensing and rights management SNOCAP has positioned itself in a specific set of content aggregation attributes that will be highly profitable for years to come. We can hardly wait until text-oriented publishers begin to catch on.

Ovid and MuseGlobal Pair Up to Provide Federated Access

Catching up on this week's announcements I am intrigued by the announcement of an alliance between Ovid Technologies and MuseGlobal to develop a federated search capability for academic institutions, corporations and medical institutions. It's an effort to combine MuseGlobal's metasearch capabilities with Ovid's increasingly workflow-oriented integrations of premium content for medical-oriented content into comprehensive knowledge management solutions, a canny combination that has a potentially enormous appeal to their combined audiences. MuseGlobal has moved rapidly over the last year from a company catering primarily to institutional libraries to a company catering to the I.T.-driven knowledge management environment with a wide array of content integration tools and is puttering via its MuseSeek with open Web searching. We'll see how the final product sizes up when it's released early next year, but in concept it's the direction in which many premium content specialists need to consider moving. Moving towards creating content value in meaningful contexts regardless of its source is the core to defining today's premium content services; the question remains, though, how much longer content licensing will continue to provide a cornerstone that draws clients to these capabilities and vice versa. We see content licensing becoming increasingly unbundled from the "front end" of content consumption and aggregators needing to prepare for this as a reality to be embraced sooner rather than later. In working together Ovid and MuseGlobal are creating a potentially powerful alliance that may help both companies to bridge their operations towards the emerging realities of institutional premium content.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Headlines for 3 December 2004

Searching for Google's Future: Schmidt Interview
S. Africa calls for more gov't control of Net
Reed Elsevier earnings forecast disappoints market
Two-Thirds of Media Multitaskers Read the Paper While Watching TV
Questionable Future Looms for Common Carriage Regulations
SNOCAP: Fanning's new swap shop
SNOCAP Melts Barriers to Growth in the Digital Music Marketplace
New York Times Cuts Its Earnings Forecast
Open Text Releases Artesia for Digital Asset Management 6.0, With Advanced Security Model
Associated revamps financial website This is Money
Weblogs, Inc. Announces the Launch of 62nd Weblog, Luxury Weblog

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Headlines for 2 December 2004

Microsoft wades into wide world of Weblogs
Free eJournal Archive Passes 3/4 Million Mark
Yahoo Resolves Trademark Case
Reed Elsevier Says Dollar's Decline to Erode Profit
Google readies changes to discussion groups
Coming soon: Google TV?
Mozilla previews e-mail program
Ovid and MuseGlobal Partner to Deliver a Scalable and Customizable Federated Search Solution
NewsGator Closes Second Finance Round & Expands Leadership Team
Choice Media and Sign Exclusive Multi-Year Advertising Agreement
Spectra-Physics Deploys Coveo Enterprise Search for Departmental Intranets

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Create Community and Context; Monetization Options Will Follow

"Authentic content recognized by a given community is the key to content monetization in today's publishing marketplace, regardless of how it's sourced. Tomorrow's trade journals are going to be far less about the reportage model and far more about those channels best equipped to service the diverse communications needs of professionals in given communities and contexts." --John Blossom, Shore Communications, NewsAnalysis, November 29, 2004.

This quote from my colleague appeared in his newsanalysis column this week, just a day before news reached our desks that TechTarget has extended its portfolio of integrated media properties with the acquisition of TheServerSide communities. TheServerSide (TSS) communities come ready-made with an active base of developer reader/contributors, along with a popular conference. In fact, TSS grew from member-generated content provided by the Java developers and architects who constitute the audience of the site.

TechTarget now has the opportunity to lead the way in "creat[ing] channels best equipped to service the diverse communications needs" of the application developer community as described in the opening quote. TechTarget's challenge is to retain an environment that encourages continued collaboration while applying aspects of their overarching integrated media model, which depends on aligning targeted audiences with a set of advertisers who want to market to that community. Given their success to date in redefining the B2B trade journal model, I'm willing to bet that TechTarget will succeed in retaining the right collaborative environment and in leveraging the authentic content that is created among the TSS community by means of incorporating appropriate contextual links to relevant advertising, marketing, and supplemental content.

Headlines for 1 December 2004

Free Credit Reports Coming, With Pitches
EU's check of Time Warner, Microsoft deal halted
China 'blocks Google news site'
Adapting to shift in tech landscape, research gurus scrambling to expand offerings and merge
Blog Wins Easily As Word Of The Year
As blogs grow, newspapers 'refuge'
he Wall Street Journal Online and Summus Announce Launch of 'The Wall Street Journal Mobile'
LexisNexis Launches Information Service for Small Businesses and Independent Professionals
Factiva Now the Sole Provider of Full Access to All Top Ten U.S. Daily Newspapers
Five Are Designated "International InfoStars" by Dialog
Scotsman.Com Deploys eMeta Software to Sell Digital Content Through Flexible Offers
McGraw-Hill Education President: Content/Technology Pairing Holds Great Promise for Education Worldwide
Ixio Extends SEC Content to QShift Subscribers in Partnership with Knowledge Mosaic

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Inbox Report: LexisNexis Releases AlaCarte Service to Target Small. Medium Businesses

I received a press release from LexisNexis in this morning's email on a new AlaCarte Service, targeted at individuals and small institutions. It's a Web browser interface, and in that way somewhat similar to Factiva's service, but with several tabs of focused services. Payment appears to be strictly "by the drink" - no base fee required. Registration is quick and painless - no charge card info required up front - at which point you may choose to locate content from the following areas: News, Business Research, Legal, Business Research, Legal, Business Public Records, Hot Topics and Additional Search Sources. Searches were pretty slow - presumably because of an initial rush of use? - and don't return much beyond the article title and price for most searches. News search was kind of silly - am I really going to pay three US dollars for a press release that I can get for free on Google News? - though results were pretty well targeted. Business Research results are far more promising, providing a selection of company profiles, related news and patents; same grouse on news, though the sources are well selected, but the company profiles at USD 9.00 from Hoovers, Datamonitor and other premium sources are an interesting option, as are patent filings. Legal searches are not available just yet. Business Public Records returns judgments and Secretary of State filings, but with not enough summary to determine relevance and inadequate filtering. Hot topics so far offers three VERY broad buckets - Iraq War, Terrorism and Taxes 2005. Search Additional Sources promises a "deep dive for historical records" but appears to be a tool for searching specific sources or sections of specific sources and seems to allow only one source search at a time and the sources need to be typed in (guessed at) by the user. Quite honestly I am mystified by this feature and how it may be of any real use.

There are some nice things about this tool - simplicity has its advantages and the ability to hone in on truly premium sources for some very specific purposes at pretty reasonable prices has its advantages - but overall the first impression is one of a very tentative step towards an on-demand offering that lacks the well-designed interfaces and features of the Factiva "by the drink" interface and little thought as to how people actually use information or what's required to make an intelligent choice about a per-item content purchase. For those wanting to get at key premium sources at reasonable prices this is an intriguing option, but as a research tool it's in sore need of some more careful product design and conceptualization, which will hopefully come in future installments. Successful implementations in The New Aggregation require a lot more than figuring out how to disgorge the contents of a database for individuals in a second-class manner. With first-class tools like Google and institutional search engines around the corner making it easy for people to determine which content is worth selecting it's important to assume the most of one's audience and not lean too heavily on the prestige of one's database.

Headlines for 30 November 2004

ProQuest provides muscle for Serials Solutions assault
Google's Orkut puzzles experts Internet watchers ponder reason for social network site
Libel Case Could Chill Speech Online
America's first Blog mogul: Interview with Nick Denton
Fighting for file-swapping on Capitol Hill
Autonomy, Join Desktop Search Ranks
Viyya Technologies -Pink Sheets: VYON- Announces Customer Service Infrastructure
Moreover Technologies Delivers Next Generation Aggregated Current Awareness Solution Opens the Creative Registry, Enables Writers, Artists, and Inventors to Protect IP Rights
The Thomson Corporation Completes Acquisition of Information Holdings Inc.
Autonomy Included in Italian Government's E-Democracy Guidelines
Rocketinfo and CanWest Interactive Form Strategic Content Partnership
FAST Announces OEM Agreement with Clearstory Systems

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Monday, November 29, 2004

In Premium Weblogs: MarketWatch Shares Continue to Trade At Or Above Dow Jones Bid, Reuters Covers Its Rear on Instinet

In our Finance premium weblog Shore Analyst Jack McConville provides decisive insights on these and other late-breaking events in the world of financial content.

Click here for subscriber access or to sign up for a complimentary trial subscription

Headlines for 29 November 2004

BBC news in crisis as axe hits 350 staff
Europe Stalls ContentGuard Deal
Thomson Announces New Pharma Research Tool
Hung Up on Gadgets With Subscription Services
OJC Reports: online editor calls multimedia essential
Libraries could use some noise and crumbs
Who Do You Trust?
We Have Met the Enemy, and They Will Be Us
Fire Up Your Search Engines:RocketNews remembers and builds on your past searches – and it's free
Intelligence Community Looks at Convera Software
Music Labels Back Online Service

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Trackbacks and Pingbacks: Building Context for Mainstream Content

An announcement from CNET News on their new support for trackbacks caught my eye the other day. Trackbacks are notifications that webloggers and other publishers can send to a source via a "pingback" notification that lets the source know that their article has received a link from the notifying site. The receiver of the pingback is free to ignore this notification if it's not a site that they care to recognize but if they do it enables an online publisher to create an instant "press clippings" page for any individual piece of content. Trackbacks are nothing new, but it's significant that a major online news organization has taken the leap in this direction, something that CNET in its role as leading online news innovator is well positioned to manage. Trackbacks offer a great opportunity for major news organizations that are trying to get important sources to link to their content the ability to offer reciprocal links in an easily understood format that offers little downside exposure. It's sometimes surprising even for us how mainstream media outlets are storming towards the best practices of the open Web to ensure that their content remains as valuable as possible in the rapidly changing marketplace for vContent.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Clickability Poll: Newspaper Blogs More Credible - But Not By Much

I was forwarding an article to a friend via the site's Clickability service and had the option to take a poll after sending it. The question: " Do you think visitors find a blog on a newspaper site vs. a blog site to be more credible, less credible or no difference in credibility?" The answer: 41 percent of respondents found them to be more credible, 22 percent less credible, 36 percent found no difference in credibility. This kind of polling is of course less than scientific, but here's the kicker: the site from which I launched the poll was Editor & Publisher, a site oriented heavily towards the newspaper industry. There could be other sites feeding into this Clickability poll, but assuming that it's mostly E&P vistors feeding into it it indicates that less than half of people concerned about "credible" online journalism would agree that a newspaper lends additional credibility to a weblog. One can only wonder what the stats would be for the general news-reading public. While the Shore maxim "good content is where you find it" seems to hold true more than ever, credibility is a value attribute for content that will factor into the development of weblogs and other forms of independent journalism. The question is, though, is it really necessary to have an established news organization to provide that credibility? To some degree the algorithm-driven credibility found in Google News and other automated services has established a new regimen for determining editorial relevance and credibility, amplified by webloggers and other sources of editorial opinion. As rating and ranking mechanisms work their way into the world of weblogs it will be as if the world has become its own editorial board. Let's see what this poll looks like a year from now...

Headlines for 26 November

For Net music, exclusives are king
Google Scholar Offers Access to Scholarly Publications Metadata, and Librarians Take Note
The 'blog' revolution sweeps across China
Newspaper Stocks: The Best of the Worst
Film Studios Win $24 Million Against Web Site
XBRL is good for the CEO
The corporate revolution
Simplified Prospectus will give fund investors clear information
Digitization of the Nature Archive Continues
WAN, IFRA Merger Would Benefit Online Publishing

Click here to view stories from today's industry headlines

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Reuters Strike Looms: Too Much Too Soon for Offshoring?

The Times of London notes that yes, we do still have unions in the publishing business. Reuters editorial staff has voted unanimously to consider a motion to take targeted job actions against Reuters global operations based on their unfolding strategy of using various global centres to specialize in specific editorial functions. It's a culture shift that will hit all news operations sooner rather than later, but it's doubtless one that cuts to the quick a little more quickly for this venerable news organization founded at the intersection of content and technology over a century ago. Reuters news operations have always been touted as the centre of their cultural mystique, yet have provided a relatively small portion of their revenues since the company opted for more lucrative content services for financial markets. In redefining the nature of the Reuters content business in this new era of distributed editorial development it's important for both sides in this dispute to respect both the realities of shifting requirements for content markets that require new kinds of editorial services and the unique talents that trained journalists bring to that equation. I have nothing but respect for journalists, having lurked with them for so many years, but the trade is changing radically whether they're ready for it or not. Instead of moaning in their beer about how bad things are going down at the blacksmith shop it's time for journalists to set aside pride in past accomplishments and to consider how they can define and position their skills far more effectively in this shifting landscape of content generation. This is a highly emotional issue, but those emotions need to be channeled into defining more effective new roles rather than into trying to hold on to roles that may no longer apply.

Required Viewing - Museum of Media History, 2014

Thanks and a tip of the hat to Jeff Cutler, head of the SIIA Content Division for forwarding a link to a thought-provoking online multimedia presentation by an ex-Poynter denizen that lays out a theoretical picture of where content will be in the year 2014. Amongst the predictions: Google creates Google Grid, a contiguous fabric of content that allows one to receive and publish into this limitless ether; Google buys Amazon to create GoogleZon; in 2010 The New York Times sues Google for copyright infringement; by 2014 the NYT is a newsletter for the elderly and the rich and self-monetizing content on the Google Grid has brought opinion-driven reality media to the fore, whilst pushing out "serious" content. Like a lot of futurism, many of these predictions are more about the present than the future: with AdSense embedded in weblogs we already have self-monetizing content, and it's not likely that copyright wars over Google News are going to wait six years to come to the fore. And we already have a "Grid" in the Web as it exists, albeit not with central corporate control. But like George Orwell's timeless novel 1984 it sometimes takes a dramatic presentation of where current trends are leading us to take them more seriously in present times. In any event, this little presentation is certainly worth eight minutes of your time when you have it to spare.

Headlines for 24 November 2004

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The Problem with Viral Branding
EU judge calls hearing after Microsoft rivals quit
Watered down copyright act
Google Scholar: Driving New Traffic to Libraries?
National Archives Opens Public Vaults
Dialog(R) NewsRoom Sources Top 10,000
Autonomy to Support Corporate Social Responsibility Rating
Vignette Recognizes Four Customers as 2004 Vignette Efficiency Award Winners
Context Media Joins IBM to Highlight Digital Media and Content Integration

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Headlines for 23 November 2004

Google gets gruff over click fraud
In Pulitzer Guessing Game, Gannett Is Today's USA Favorite
Google Scholar Focuses on Research-Quality Content
EU Commission responds to calls for a new information society strategy
Reuters affirms may seek to sell broker Instinet
Study Finds Government Application of RFID Technology at the Crossroads
Wolters Kluwer Health Partners with Cerner to Enhance Decision Support at Point-of-Care Launches Blog Network with Leading Independent Legal Experts
CyberAlert Launches Blog Monitoring Service
SunGard Enhances FAME and referencePoint
New service makes managing RSS feeds easy.
Rocketinfo Successfully Renews Contract With International Trade Canada

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Monday, November 22, 2004

News Analysis - Instant Low Fruit: How Corzen Builds Profitable Professional Content from Web Mining

As publishers squirm to find new ways to leverage value out of long-established databases, a coterie of young companies is harvesting new data from the Web and coming up with highly targeted content products that are more about publishing than they are about the leading-edge technology that drives them. New York-based Corzen is one of this new breed that has concentrated on statistical analyses of Web sites used for job postings and for selling autos. Inventing new kinds of content from the "thin air" of the Web is an increasingly attractive business model for companies with knowledge of specific sectors' needs and access to highly affordable content development tools. That's great for a small company like Corzen - and something to think about for the bigger folks in the electronic publishing world.

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In Premium Weblogs: Reuters Shares Jump on Deals with Banks and Brokers; Talk of Instinet Sale, Dow Jones Bid for MarketWatch May be Topped and More

In our Finance premium weblog Shore Analyst Jack McConville keeps you abreast of these and all the latest developments in financial content.

Click here for subscriber access or to sign up for a complimentary trial subscription

Headlines for 22 November 2004

So Much to Read, So Few Readers
Free or Paid? AOL Will Let Its Two Halves Duke It Out
How to Integrate Citizen Journalism Into Mainstream News Sites
SLA Faces Budget Crunch, Global Online University Moves Ahead
Music Industry Is Trying Out New Releases as Digital Only
Swets Information Services Embarks On Document Delivery Partnership
Wi-Fi shifts the goalposts for enterprises
wURLdBook Research Makes Managing RSS Feeds Easy Adds Shopping Tool
Internet Bar Code Service Sends People Direct to Web Pages by Entering Bar Code Numbers

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Friday, November 19, 2004

In Events Weblog: Internet Librarian 2004

Blogs and the latest search technologies were hot topics at Internet Librarian 2004 in Monterey, November 15-17. But the approaches were decidedly practical, focusing on content management and library publishing, rather than social commentary. And the role of technology was linked to the mission of the library and the library context, including First Amendment rights and business policies.
Click here to view full report in Events Weblog.

Headlines for 19 November 2004

Google Unveils Service for Academics
The Online Ad Surge
FAST Partners With Content Management Software Company
MPAA seeks Internet2 tests, P2P monitor role
Journal Subscription Price to Increase
Reuters: Not in Formal Instinet Talks
VIYYA Software Competes in a League of Its Own
W3C's workshop aims to improve handheld web access
AIIM: Enterprise Content Management Technologies Move to Center Stage Among User Organizations
Canada's Global Public Health Intelligence Network Uses Factiva to Monitor Global Health Issues
PubSub Now Tracking Over 6.5 Million Weblogs in Real Time, Pacing Explosive Growth of Blogosphere

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RFID: The "Next Big Thing"?

If level of press coverage is a reliable indicator, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is poised to become the "next big thing."

What is RFID and why does it matter? RFID technology is deployed through tags that can be thought of like bar codes with little radio transmitters attached. More precisely, they are relatively inexpensive, paper-thin computer chips that can contain manufacturer codes, product codes and serial numbers and can broadcast this information to nearby receivers. RFID tags could revolutionize the tracking and counting of equipment and inventory, and therefore have potential applications in almost every industry. The first widespread rollouts of RFID are about to begin, and where there are products and inventory, there are (or should be) electronic buying guides and marketplaces.

It seems every industry has its own exciting ideas of how to take advantage of RFID technology. The pharmaceutical industry wants to label all prescription drugs with RFID tags containing individual product serial numbers as a way to combat theft and counterfeiting. Almost every industry seems to see inventory applications, as merchandise can broadcast its arrival at the warehouse door, and its departure at the store's main entrance, all without human intervention. Wal-Mart has already announced that it will mandate use of RFID tags by its largest suppliers beginning in January 2005.

Another important aspect of RFID tags is that the information on them has to be meaningful globally, and that means coordination, which means databases. The big winner to date is Verisign, which scooped up a contract to maintain the primary databases of companies and their products and ship that data rapidly around the world (RFID is designed to allow trading partners to exchange all sorts of product information on a real time basis). However, ICR believes that Verisign sees its biggest opportunity long-term in the movement of the data, not the data itself. That leaves manufacturers or their agents (industry database publishers, anyone?) to upload and maintain the product information.

Further, while the RFID specification provides for a globally standardized company numbering system, it anticipates that vertical industries will use existing product identification systems or create them. Thus, the book publishing industry will likely embed existing ISBN numbers into RFID tags, and the food industry will use UPC codes. Opportunities abound in those industries lacking such standard product identification schemes.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Google Scholar: Prepping for Open Access?

Another exciting introduction from Google today, Google Scholar provides a window into the world of scholarly publishing. Gary Price's ResourceShelf reviews the specialized search tool and adds some good context regarding how Google Scholar supplements resources that already exist to search for scholarly publications. In a nutshell, Google Scholar crawls Websites that it deems "scholarly" and also crawls some of the "invisible Web" through special arrangements with publishers and aggregators to deliver abstracts of premium content that was previously only available to registered users or paying subscribers. Results are ranked by number of citations. In most cases, when users click through on for-fee content, they find an abstract and offers for ordering the article or subscribing to the premium service.

At this early stage, Google Scholar's business model isn't apparent. However, Google does state in the FAQ that Google "does not receive compensation if you decide to buy a subscription to a journal or access a particular article." That leaves advertising as the source of revenue, which fits right in with Google's recent history and mission. The FAQ also humbly suggests that Google "recognize[s] the debt we owe to all those in academia whose work has made Google itself a reality...". Keep in mind, however, that there is a commercial goal, too. As more and more scholarly publications become available on an open access basis, Google is paving the way to include a huge collection of content in its network--content that can be monetized through search advertising and AdSense contextual advertising. With Google Scholar, Google has already done much of its homework in prepping for advances in open access.

Headlines for 18 November 2004

Overture tests RSS ads
Online, people actually (gasp!) read
NASD Panel Recommends 'Soft-Dollar' Changes
Blogging grows by getting smaller
LiveDeal(TM) Unveils New Classifieds; Localized Online Marketplace for Buyers & Sellers Without Fees
Revere Taps Wolyner as CEO
CENTRIX Financial Chooses LexisNexis(R) RiskWise(R) for Identity & Loan Application Processes
The Wall Street Journal Online Launches Video Center; Sun Micro Will Be the Charter Advertiser
Spain's Tourism Information Agency (SEGITUR) Selects Bowne Global Solutions to Translate Web Site
WeatherBug(R) Launches Network of Backyard Weather Stations for Personalized Local Weather
SearchBug Engages FinancialContent for Financial Data and Tools

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Solution to Selling Premium Content When Trend is Toward Open Free Access

This week the big news in the B2B segment was Dow Jones' bid to acquire MarketWatch. The online version of Dow Jones' pre-eminent publication, The Wall Street Journal, has been held up frequently as the exemplar of how the paid subscription model can work for certain established brands in the online news market. Now, Dow Jones appears to be acquiescing to the open access, ad-supported model to gain wider exposure and greater advertising dollars.

In the STM realm, publishers are faced with a similar trend toward open access for research articles that have historically been packaged into print journals for distribution. However, the response to the trend toward free access to previously premium content has been quite different in the STM environment. STM publishers like Reed Elsevier and Thomson are positioning themselves as providers of "solutions" to their constituent user groups in order to extract a premium. [Note, there is still an option for the open access content to be provided on an ad-supported basis.]

This week, Thomson Scientific announced Thomson Pharma, its new platform for accessing "premium patent, scientific, and financial content drawn from across the full range of Thomson-owned businesses". In its factsheet, Thomson Pharma is broadly described in three core elements:
Developing the complete pharmaceutical solution
Fuelling all stages of the drug development pipeline
Providing key functionality.

Overall, Thomson Pharma appears to be not much more than a collection of content with a specialized interface, but it is a step toward providing users with a "solution" that utilizes content to provide its answers--rather than a disconnected collection of content waiting to be sought out. Recent moves by Reed Elsevier also provide evidence of other STM publishing heavyweights' moving toward providing their content as part of an integrated package. Just last week, Reed Elsevier Ventures was the lead investor in a round of financing for Inpharmatica, a company that provides a drug discovery platform.

Professional publishing has always required knowledge of the target audience's business needs and applications. Now, more than ever, publishers of premium content need to move even closer to their ultimate users in order to provide services and solutions that merit premium prices.

Headlines for 17 November 2004

Google stock falls as share total doubles
Content Aggregation will Change Search Marketing for Ever
Two Days at ONA Hollywood Yield New Web Site Gems
UK Government Offers Cautious Response to STM Report
Interactive Data Extends European and US Market Coverage to Fidessa
Dow Jones' Digital Gamble
PubSub: Managing the Firehose of Real-Time Information
InfoCommerce Group Cites Exemplary Publishers of Rich Data in 'Models of Excellence' list
Thomson Announces Thomson Pharma, Powerful New Research Tool for Pharma and Biotechnology
Dow Jones is New Primary Source of Financial News, Providing Real-Time Content to Quote.Com Subs
Endeca Expands Search and Navigation Vision with New Enterprise Platform, Adds RSS, Web Services
LexisNexis(R) Market Intelligence to Help Marketers ID Growth Opportunities for Law Firms
A Whole New Way to Work: Open Text Revolutionizes Collaboration with First-Ever Unified Platform
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Fortifies Legal Strategy With Verity Technology

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Headlines for 16 November 2004

Sarbanes-Oxley kicks in
Going Public: Corporate librarians are finding public libraries quite attractive
Marketers Need to Adapt to Personal Content
LexisNexis launches accounting software product
Wolters Kluwer Health Launches New Medication Order Management DB to Help Reduce Medical Errors
Factiva Offers New Search and Workflow Tools for the Microsoft Office System
New McGraw-Hill Online Service Delivers Immediate Answers for Physicians and Medical Students
KnowledgeStorm Reaches Government Technology Professionals via PostNewsweek Tech Media
In-Q-Tel Partners with Convera to Expedite Development of Distributed Indexing Capability
American Lawyer Media Increases Corporate Counsel Circulation

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Monday, November 15, 2004

News Analysis - Let it Rain: Reuters and Dow Jones Adapt to the User-Controlled Flow of Content

As Dow Jones makes away with its purchase of MarketWatch, it's worth noting that competitor Reuters has been busy for a while figuring out how to make good money with ad-supported content on the open Web without a subscription model. To profit in this environment takes an understanding of how users are driving the content monetization model more than ever before. But it's not just ad-supported content providers that need to consider the impact of this key deal. The issue of profiting from new patterns of content flow is a universal issue for publishers and distributors, one that has more than a few solutions to consider. The key trick is to focus on electronic content monetization as a destination feature rather than a gating factor for delivery.

Click here to read the full News Analysis