Thursday, May 27, 2004

Microsoft Readies Search Tools, Projects a Year for Final Delivery

As noted by the Associated Press, Microsoft has unveiled an effort to take on the Personal Knowledge Management space with a desktop search capability similar in intent to that announced by Google recently. Improved search was to have been bundled in with their Longhorn operating system release, but obviously the Redmond crew is feeling increasingly flat-footed in the face of content and technology developments that just won't wait for the software giant to get its act together. It really is amazing that an operating system that's approaching its twentieth anniversary has barely changed the manner in which it allows individuals and institutions to search and view content, leaving plenty of room for players such as ISYS to deliver high-performance and scalable search solutions. In trying to defend its operating system revenues by incorporating any area it wants to dominate into its operating system, Microsoft continues to create an ultimately indefensible position that requires it to coordinate a wide array of content technologies with its increasingly out-of-date Office core products. Instead of trying to lock in the unlockable, Microsoft should turn about and provide a lean and open core operating system that's rock-stable and concentrate on providing technology that adds value to content across the widest array of publishing environments available. Windows is already so dominant it will have little to lose by leaving its roots behind and concentrating on vContent from dawn until dusk.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

State of Ohio Implements eBooks for 67 Public Libraries via Overdrive

Ohio is the home of Overdrive, one of the leading suppliers of eBooks management systems for libraries; not surprisingly, the Cleveland Public Library is one of the leaders in implementing eBooks distribution via Overdrive. Now Managing Information reveals that the State of Ohio has extended Overdrive's capabilities to 67 public libraries in rural counties hard pressed by budget constraints. The ability of eBooks to make a marked difference in distribution efficiencies for libraries everywhere is beginning to get broader scale as a result of efforts such as this, placing digital rights-protected eBooks into the hands of citizens everywhere and setting the stage for technology that's ready to receive a broad array of rights-protected content for a broad marketplace. Most publishers outside of the book industry are asleep at the wheel regarding the rapid progression of eBooks in the public library system, though, still looking towards controlled access to content databases as the primary way to protect content access - even though its weaknesses are very clear. With more purchasing consortiums driving down margins on these databases, though, finding ways to enable more value-added relationship with library patrons via rights management systems will become an increasingly important aspect of content aggregators' efforts to build relationships with content users. If they're smart, that is.

Bloggers Keep Mainstream Press In Line: Fourth Estate for the Fourth Estate?

The USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review reports on several recent incidents in which weblogs proved to be the impetus for major newspapers correcting content and policies. Weblogger Robert Cox' parody of The New York Times' correction page (NOTE: this appears like a regular NYT page) got quite a bit of attention when more straightforward complaints about inaccuracies in columnist materials failed to get results - enough to have the Times modify policy on columnist accuracy. An Australian blogger also uncovered inaccuracies a fabricated quote in a Chicago Tribune story. It's sometimes interesting to listen to mainstream journalists turn their noses up at weblogs as less-than-real journalism - and then discover that the Fourth Estate needs their own Fourth Estate at times to keep then honest. Some find it easy to confuse a technology - weblogs - with the content that it supports, which varies in quality about as much as it may with any other authoring technology. The awareness that highly aware and professional webloggers provide on both mainstream media and other sources of supposedly reliable information is an extremely important element in the emerging ability of readers to separate fact from fiction with or without officially approved sources of content. Those "official" sources would be wise to consider how they may be able to participate in this dialog more directly, so that their own credibility may have more effective "street" credentials that will be accepted by those in the know over time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

News Analysis - Street Level: How Factiva Fashions Itself for an Era of Rowdy and Robust vContent

A recent conversation with Factiva CEO Clare Hart demonstrated the strength of her efforts to bring this child of Dow Jones and Reuters from its birth five years ago towards a promising adolescence. From single-line queries tuned to user profiles to portal integration and to its ingenious Insight Reputation Management system that gleans powerful intelligence from scraps of "street" content such as weblogs and user groups, Factiva is pushing hard on many fronts to create highly effective vContent solutions. But with open Web search engines and other venues helping publishers to prove their value head-to-head against "street" content, how much time do aggregators like Factiva have to leverage their vContent skills? more...

Monday, May 24, 2004

Bill Bubbles about Blogs, but Bloggers are, as Usual, Elsewhere

Reuters reports via The Washington Post along with numerous other sources regarding Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates' comments about weblogs at their annual CEO summit. Chairman Bill touted weblogs as a great communications tool that is both a threat and an opportunity; the threat part is a given, as yet again Microsoft will bundle in their own weblogging tools into the forthcoming Longhorn operating system kernel to try to tame weblogs in Microsoft's image. But unlike earlier attempts to steal marches on Web content, it's likely that weblogs have escaped the throes of Microsoft on a fairly permanent basis. The huge mass of content built independent of Microsoft infrastructure that can be delivered to any platform via XML-standardized feeds is not likely to be tamed by any major vendor any time soon, leaving Microsoft and others who have not dialed in to these increasingly respected publishers to be mostly on the receiving end of this content. Weblogs are great, but we're discovering that not everyone is an Ernest Hemingway in the making; Microsoft has about 700 employess weblogging already, but thinking of the full force of their employess available to type out snappy bon mots, that's a pretty small percentage. People with something to say to a lot of folks make excellent use of weblogs and are an increasingly important part of knowledge management, but weblogs work best when one can poll from the widest array of opinions and insights possible - which requires a pretty large net, of experts, generally. Enterprises typically are not going to have enough webloggers to carve out profits on the authoring side of the equation - especially given the preponderance of free or cheap posting solutions. Most likely scenario in the next eight months: Microsoft acquires NewsGator or develops its own home-grown look-alike that eventually gets folded into the Longhorn kernel.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Price of Tea in China: The 2004 SIIA Content Forum Focuses on Key Profitability Themes

Everyone seemed to want to know the price of tea in China at this week's SIIA Content Forum at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California - and some even seemed to be able to find it. The struggle between open Web capabilities and premium content services was at a high-volume pitch at this event, with its sub-theme "Show Me the Money!" somehow subservient to the greater issue of "Show Me the Margins!". Most presenters at this excellent event were working for reasonably profitable concerns, so the real issue for many was how to build their content businesses in sustainable ways that can keep up with the pace of change in online publishing. Nobody was sitting on their laurels in that pursuit, save perhaps the folks from Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal who were collecting Codie awards from the SIIA Tuesday night for their online efforts. At the heart of the struggle for profitable vContent was the success of content technologies to create content value that are now pressing hard on the assumption that business models for premium publishers as they exist today can ignore the power of open Web search engines and other emergent forces such as weblogs and enterprise content management. The great news is that this was a conference where many of the main agents of change were not the "barbarians at the gate" but instead major publishers, aggregators and distributors who are pushing forward into profitable ways of attacking the content marketplace using leading technologies.

Jean Bedord, Senior Analyst for Shore, provides a blow-by-blow review of the panel discussions in her eResources marketplace weblog, which we have opened up temporarily for non-registration access so that as many people as possible may take advantage of her insights. Enjoy!
Click here for a detailed account of the SIIA Content Forum panel discussions.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Contextual Relevance Loses Appeal When Context is a Sham

Everyone seems to be picking on Google these days. A couple of weeks ago, an article in the Times of India reported how some people are benefiting by paying people to click on ads just to drive up the cost of the ad campaign (see my earlier blog on this article). As I pointed out in the blog entry, Web publishers who participate in the Google ad network (that is, they allow Google AdSense ads to appear on their Websites) have an incentive to encourage visitors to click on the ads, since they get paid whenever a visitor clicks on an ad. Well, now the Wall Street Journal reports [sub. req] instances of clever Web site developers who research the highest-value terms and then create Websites that contain text that will attract related AdSense ads. It could be argued that these Websites serve as effective intermediaries that help send traffic to the advertiser's site by improving upon the advertiser's organic search engine optimization and keyword/phrase selections. However, it is clear that the main objective is to exploit the high-tech/low-touch nature of Google's AdSense ad placement. Google's ad network has approximately 200,000 advertisers and many thousands of participating Web sites. Certain controls can be used to detect fraud and unusual activity. But, the program is designed to match huge numbers of advertisers with equally huge numbers of Websites that range across every imaginable topic--for a relatively low cost. Precision, human review of the appropriateness of the ad, and special requests for placement aren't part of the package, unless you're in the elite class of top tier national advertisers or a Website that receives over 20 million pageviews per month. For that class of customer, Google provides "customization services". For the rest of us, we'll just have to decide if the lack of control over what ads appear on our sites is worth the potential ad revenue. If not, there are other online ad networks that provide more control over key elements of an ad campaign and include a personal touch. But, the trade-off is the cost. Fortunately, there are options for advertisers and publishers, and it is safe to predict that more options will emerge in the still nascent online advertising industry before a consolidation phase sets in.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Google Pushes to the Limits of Personal and Enterprise Content

Like skyscrapers under construction dueling for supremacy, Google thrusts out new challenges to its rivals Microsoft and Yahoo! on a nearly daily basis these days. The latest girder falling into place and covered in The New York Times [REGISTRATION] is a forthcoming tool from Google that will allow individuals to search content on their personal computers, taking advantage of delays in Microsoft's increasingly forlorn and untimely Longhorn operating system release now due out in truncated form come 2006. Personal Knowledge Management is the next major frontier in the New Aggregation, and may represent a more pliant "back door" entry into the corporate marketplace than Google has been able to manage with its enterprise-oriented "search appliance." A sideways hint of additional Google corporate plans came when a CNET News article revealed a configuration error temporarily allowed individual email account on their new Gmail service to have up to a terabyte of email storage - 1,000 times their current gigabyte limit. Perhaps just a configuration error or sloppy coding, but the thought also comes to mind that perhaps a release in testing for an enterprise-level Gmail made its way out the door into the consumer production environment. Thinking back to the early days of Bloomberg's sales of financial information services via its iconoclastic data terminals, the way into the enterprise is oftentimes effected by creating cultish enthusiasm at the desk level for content products that I.T. departments wind up having to support due to user demand. The fellows at Google are no Mike Bloomberg, but sometimes old lessons last a lifetime.

News Analysis - Search and the Enterprise: Making Content Work Behind the Firewall - and Beyond

Information Today, Inc.'s Enterprise Search Summit is a new forum for pulling together the rapidly evolving world of enterprise search from the perspective of both technologists and information professionals pulling together content from behind the firewall and from beyond the enterprise. It was a huge hit, well-attended and stocked with expertise and insights from today's leading suppliers and implementers. Key take-away: enterprise search technologies are maturing rapidly, but so are the outlooks of the professionals using search tools to provide content value in today's institutions. The combination of these two factors promises to provide a lot of value to institutions over the next couple of years. more...

Twilight of Information Middlemen: Article Lost in the Sunset

In a mad rush to the airport Sunday I missed an article in the New York Times entitled "Twilight of the Information Middlemen". The article was the focus of several discussions at this week's excellent SIIA Content Forum. I'd have to agree with Alacra's Steve Goldstein that this is a pretty shoddy piece of journalism - the article is a heap of unsubstantiated truisms and reads as if someone had attacked a month's worth of our weblogs with a scissors - but it's at least an effort to acknowledge that the intersection of content and technology that's changing how content value is created is worthy of more mainstream media attention. The Times does a good job of covering many aspects of the content industry,so this is not a blanket indictment of their editorial output, but here was the fun part - I couldn't find the darn thing on their Web site. Jet lag from the redeye had knocked the title from my mind so I tried some obvious words and combinations: content and information, content and aggregators, and so on. Miserable results. Google's news search, not much better. A major news aggregator's database, zilch. Where to go? Steve Goldstein's weblog on Alacra's Web site, of course. Sure enough, the link was there. The editorial value of trusted people in a weblogging community is a powerful tool that helps to place highly focused Web content in a very usable context via this now-familiar linking and blogging process. As for the Times, well, better luck next time with the coverage. And the indexing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Online Ad Networks Irked by Google's Move to Display Ad Format

The story on Cnet's News.com site says that Google's move to extend its AdSense program to include richer display ads and charge advertisers only when a user clicks on the ad has "irked other online ad networks specializing in display ads". (Note, display ads is the new term for what used to be called banner ads.) Well, being irked is understandable, but any online ad network that is surprised by this move hasn't been paying attention. Moving to richer formats for AdSense ads that appear on Web sites is a natural evolution for the AdSense network. AdSense may have started life as an offshoot of AdWords (Google's ad program that lists ads on search results pages), but it quickly became apparent that the requirements for a successful AdSense ad generally differed from those of an AdWords ad--in terms of placement, content and format. Competing display ad networks fear that Google's approach of continuing to charge on a PPC (pay-per-click) basis will harm the market that charges for display ads on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions or eyeballs) basis. This grumbling sounds like fear and trepidation to this analyst. If PPC is a preferred sales model, then the ad networks will have to offer a PPC option. Better yet, competing ad networks should work on differentiating themselves from AdSense, in terms of service, assurance of placement on desirable Web sites, assistance with creative, tracking, and other relevant elements. Google now officially refers to AdSense as an ad network, which again should not surprise any industry observers. However, it should put them on alert to expect further enhancements and growth of the AdSense network.

In Premium Weblogs: Reuters State Street Deal, Chris Taylor Moves From Bloomberg to MacAndrew and Forbes, Reuters Moves Yankee, Thomson $250M Note

Shore Senior Analyst Jack McConville reports on Reuters DataScope's victory with State Street, Bloomberg Spokesperson Chistine Taylor and others moving on, Thomson taking out a $250M note to fuel new acquisitions and Reuters' sale of its Yankee Group research unit. more...

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Ovid Launches Web Site Hosting Service: Aggregator Move to vContent Services

Ovid Technologies has announced the launch of its Web Portal Advantage service to enable publishers, corporations and academic institutions to leverage a rich content publishing environment that includes online peer-review tracking,membership management and financial reporting, discussion forums, and a feature that allows for the posting of multi-media content and supplemental article information, as well as the ability to integrate content from Ovid's broad array of journals, texts and databases. The portal toolkit offering is especially interesting in that it will allow journal publishers to make a transition to a Web publishing environment that will promise the ability to integrate closely with their client base using similar tools as well as with Ovid's own content indexing and open Web indexing. This is a very savvy and powerful positioning of Ovid's capabilities as an agggregator, emphasizing the ability of an aggregator to bring together not just content in a database but markets with their suppliers, no matter what the channels the suppliers may choose to reach them. Today's aggregation focuses on this kind of congregation, a "coalition of the willing" that has the ability to adapt flexibly to the delivery and consumption requirements of suppliers and purchasers in a neutral manner that makes the most of technology to empower both individuals and institutions. Hats off, Ovid, would that more aggregators took this flexible and powerful approach.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Inbox Report: Zinio Pushes Heavily Discounted Magazine Subscriptions

In addition to a free one-year subscription to eWeek, the electronic magazine delivery service Zinio is offering via email a wide range of premium magazine subscriptions at radically reduced prices - 66 percent off of Trucks, 92 percent off of PC Magazine, and so on. Steep discounts on magazines are nothing new, but it's worth noting that these are prices oftentimes well below those of online services for paper-based subscriptions such as magazines.com and appear to require less multi-year lock-in. In other words, slowly but surely magazines appear to be adjusting to the realities of how content is valued in an electronic era and recognizing that trying to keep targets of gross revenues based on paper-based production costs is of not much use. But still magazines and journals lag most of the content industry in trying to establish viable electronic business models that leave print behind as a revenue basis. As contextual advertising services come into their own as a tool for aware ad agencies to make high-value ad placements in online sites (check out IndustryBrains for an apparently successful and growing service in this area) that will provide them with the margins to sustain themselves with appropriate creative and marketing services, expect this to change more rapidly than even magazine and journals publishers may imagine. The Zinio model of electronic-format mass print distribution mostly props up ad agencies who are unwilling or unable to make this transition, along with an industry that needs to change its metrics for measuring success very rapidly. There are some clear paths out of this mess for Zinio, but so far paths that have not been ventured down, as far as we can see.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Online Publishers Association Report Sees USD 1.6 Billion Market for Content Spending

Paying for online content has come of age officially. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) has released a report outlining a robust and shifting marketplace for online content sales. Topping the list for content revenues were Yahoo.com, Real.com and Match.com, with "serious" content portals Wsj.com coming in a number five and theStreet.com at 22, Britannica.com at 23 and SmartMoney.com at 25. The lion's share of revenues and growth are in personals, personal growth and dating services, with entertainment and lifestyles content taking a slight nosedive and general news showing a 25 percent growth rate. This reinforces the value of the Web as a personal medium that allows people to connect with like-minded people who can satisfy their needs. Highly valued content requires a personal touch, not necessarily the "personalization" features that many portals tinker with, though. The personal touch that many Web users seek is content that allows them to feel as if they are part of a network of peers who can support their interests on either a personal or intellectual basis. This peer-to-peer aspect of content is still a work in progress for many publishers and aggregators used to seeing personal content as an add-on or "would be nice" that generally gets integrated into "the product" either poorly or not at all. Amazon does it well with its recommendation services, and KeepMedia is exploring similar avenues as it tries to develop a "content concierge" approach to its services. But there is lots of fertile ground to explore in this arena of vContent - and, judging by the OPA report, lots of juicy revenues, as well.

Reuters.com Embraces RSS Syndication, Boost for XML-based Delivery Standard

CNET News reports that Reuters.com has elected to use the XML syndication standard RSS (RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication)as a content delivery transport for delivering free headlines and one-line summaries of stories for free from a wide range of news topics. Notably RSS will also be used to deliver video clips, one of the first instances of the use of RSS for this purpose and one of the very first instances of such a use by a mainstream media company. As reported earlier in our weblog, Reuters has been pursuing a strategy of pulling back content from its news feeds supporting Web portals and concentrating on drawing clicks, along with ad revenues and client relationships, into its own enhanced news portal. The RSS feed is designed to enhance that strategy, providing the taste of Reuters content that may interest people to come in to their own environment to consume articles and additional services. The lack of outgoing content will make it harder for Web sites to index the relevancy of headlines based on scant content, but it's at least a half step towards using RSS as a tool that can provide content in a more robust context that enhances the value of source publishers to end users. The primary value of RSS is to provide syndication feeds to individuals and institutions wanting to stay on top of the conversation in many different streams; placing premium content alongside other personal sources of content as close to the user as possible is a key step towards the New Aggregation that will be driving publishing for many years to come.

Monday, May 10, 2004

News Analysis - Search and the Library: Managing the Changing Face of Today's Content Collections

As an article in Library Journal highlights the cultural shift of content users shaped by Web content technologies away from library-driven content access sciences, search engines are cruising the open Web and institutional content collections with only modest deference to the information professionals' traditional capabilities. Now that search engines have permanently changed the way in which content is accessed and used, both libraries and their content suppliers are scrambling for rationales that support the value of their collections. The ultimate solution to their woes may be to abandon the idea of collections as the foundation for their being and to concentrate on those aspects of providing content value that matter most to their common audiences. more...

Saturday, May 8, 2004

Established Publishing Brands Hold Cross-Media Advertising Advantage

Just like the bricks&mortar retail stores that came late to the online retail game, but were able to claim an advantage by allowing customers to use their physical outlets to pick-up goods ordered online and return goods bought online, publishing companies are now realizing some of the same 'paper and printing press' benefits on which 'bricks&mortar' stores have already capitalized. In print, newspapers can provide ads with printed links to Websites that offer more information; and online, the newspaper Website can reinforce the print ad (and reach online only readers, too), and provide a direct link to more detailed information on the advertiser's site. This week Knight-Ridder, Gannett, and Tribune newspaper publishing companies bought CrossMedia Services, an advertising services company that creates online complements to print circulars and catalogs and helps advertisers manage cross-media campaigns. This isn't the first joint purchase of an online utility for this threesome. They are also partners in cars.com, apartments.com, and careerbuilder.com. With online advertising growing faster than print advertising, and local advertising a hot phenomenon online, it behooves newspaper companies to promote their cross-media advantages to their most important advertising clients. It looks as though this group of newspaper companies has gotten the message. It will be interesting to monitor the impact of the cross-media outlets on the pure online competitors in online recruiting, real estate, cars, and local advertising.

Fuss About Fraud in Online Advertising

An article about fraudulent clicks on search ads and contextual ads in the Times of India has stirred up some concern about the effectiveness of online ads. The concerned parties fear that the current ad systems are too easy to fool with 'link pumping', that is, having people or programs click on ads with the sole purpose of driving up the number of clicks. The fraudulent clicks drive up the cost of a campaign without supplying any useful leads. With paid ads on search engine listings, the only beneficiaries of such link pumping would be search advertising service companies that get paid a percentage of a campaign's cost, or possibly some party who wants to make the advertiser 'pay'--a nasty competitor perhaps. With contextual ads (e.g., AdSense or ContentMatch), the Website owner gets paid for clicks on the ads that are placed on his or her site, so there is an incentive for this segment to invite link pumping, too.

However, the fuss will probably not hamper the growth in online advertising. In fact, the critical attention can help strengthen the still immature industry by helping the providers of online advertising services refine their technology for placing ads, as well as the tools for tracking ads and managing the overall campaign. We're still in the 'pay-per-click' (PPC) phase of contextual ads--a step beyond the original banner ads where costs were based on eyeballs that viewed the page on which the ad was placed--but still a less-than-perfect method for tracking the quality of leads. The major online ad networks are adding campaign management tools and new competitors that provide specialized advertising services are emerging to provide more controlled environments. Some growing pains are to be expected; and some fraud, too. But, it's no reason to indict a segment that is growing at 'Google-like' rates and which is providing real results to large and small advertisers.

As for the article that helped spark the ad fraud discussion, one thing is certain: The Times of India is getting a lot of hits from online marketing analysts. I bet they are hoping that visitors click on their PPC ads!

Friday, May 7, 2004

Media vs. Research: Advertising Approaches Expose World Outlooks of KeepMedia and HighBeam

Rafat Ali has a particularly interesting take in his weblog on the differing ad campaigns for KeepMedia, the portal developing around consumer and business magazines, and HighBeam, focusing on the market for research. KeepMedia focuses on exposing consumer-oriented topics and community on high-traffic web sites, while HighBeam focuses on providing ads with search topics that may relate to the content of an article being displayed and encourage further research. Each approach reflects their focus and goals - KeepMedia, focused primarily on consumer publications, must restrain itself to advertising the strengths of that kind of approach to content in outlets that complement their "media" content, while HighBeam, focused on bridging the worlds of open Web content and traditional database-driven content aggregation for both consumers and professionals, takes a more contextual "research" approach. Neither is a right or wrong approach, given the nature of their content, but it seems as if both are suffering somewhat from their own labeling. "Media" is a concept that sees content as a a highly polished consumer product; "research" sees content as something more serious and professional, in which diamonds in the rough are more acceptable. Neither really reflects the outlook that many content consumers have, which is at the same time both and neither of these approaches. Today's content consumers are agnostic - "good content is where you find it," which may mean favoring established brands but equally may mean that people are glad to select any brand for any purpose. It's rare now that I put on my "media" or and my "research" cap consciously; it's all content to me, and whatever works, works. Thought for KeepMedia: treat your audience more seriously, they know what's beyond the "walled garden" of official media as well as the next person and see themselves as more than consumers. Thought for HighBeam: you're on the beam, but lighten up, if you're aiming for the new content consumer they need to sense that there is some fun in finding things - even things that are serious.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Containers as a Service: CD-ROM Distribution Takes a New Twist to Become vContent

Talk about something that was supposed to be dead and gone: how many companies still think of CD-ROMs as a viable distribution medium? Yet according to e-consultancy Freestyle New Media Group new Firebox facility allows for the simple creation of customized CD-ROMs via its content management software. Firebox allows for the creation of mass-personalized CD-ROMs in small or large batches, allowing clients such as Land Rover Global Armoured Vehice Sales to send out sophisticated marketing messages in a highly personalized format. This is another great example of how everything in the content value chain is fair game for creating value for individuals and institutions in the right context. As noted in our earlier news analysis, mass production of similar content items is fairly useless in an era of instant distribution and infinite replication. But using mass production procedures to create unique value for small or individual audiences can turn that production equation around for virtually any outlet or channel - even hoary old CD-ROMs. You never know where vContent is going to spring up next...

Reuters, AP Ponder How to Best Define New Value in the Portal Era

The USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review reports on the contrasting approaches of Reuters and AP to securing the value of news content that is being picked up increasingly via news search engines. As noted in our earlier weblog Reuters is pulling its core business content from its syndicated feeds for web portals is part of a strategy to build more brand equity via its own news portal and to fend off complaints from newspapers using their content - an effort that opened the door for AP to fill that gap at Yahoo! and other portal outlets with its new AP Financial News product. Yet AP has its own portal attrition issues to manage, as OJR points out how one of its member papers The Arizona Republic does not want AP content via Yahoo!'s local portal efforts competing with its own AZCentral.com portal. OJR sees this as a continuation of the fight to keep breaking news from being commoditized, but it seems to be more specifically an issue of what constitutes valuable aggregation in today's content marketplace. The winners in today's wars for aggregation supremacy are those who can provide the most original content in its most potent and valuable context. When distribution is generally ubiquitous, the concept of syndication to any but the most potent end points - generally those closest to the user's direct control - are of questionable value. News is not a commodity, but providing news in an aggregated format from multiple sources that's fairly trivial to manage by the standards of today's users is definitely a concept that's going to be increasingly hard to monetize. Chalk one up to the owners of content who are smart enough to build their own brand value directly through the most potent context-builders available.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

Recommended Reading: "Born with the Chip" Defines NextGens Content Outlook

If there's anything that defines the shifting world of content and related technologies well it's the gap between people who grew up thinking that specific publishers and media companies were important and those who grew up with a mouse, joystick or cable remote in their hands from day one and see the world of content through very different eyes. The Library Journal has an outstanding article profiling these people who were "Born with the Chip", which outlines their expectations for using information (format agnostic, nomadic, multitasking), their learning behaviors (experiential, collaborative, integrated) and their beliefs (principled, adaptive, direct). The article focuses on the impact of this generation of content creators and users on library functions, but the attributes define what today's content users are all about - including many graying ones who came to love the Web and have their own take on the gaming and online entertainment universe. While the content industry seems to be moving away from the "pipes and water" metaphors for defining its roles and rationales, the full impact of this new generation's tastes and habits will be impacting the content industry enormously as the first all-PC/gaming/cable generation begins to graduate from colleges over the next several years and starts to make buying decisions for professional as well as personal content. Are you prepared to deal with these vContent experts?

Monday, May 3, 2004

In Premium Weblogs: The Duality of Google, McGraw-Hill Earnings, Thomson One Workstations Gain, Reuters/Mitsubishi Deal

In our Content eCommerce premium weblog, Shore Senior Analyst Janice McCallum analyzes the Google IPO and reflects on the duality of a technology company that receives most of its revenues via advertising. more...

In our Financial Content and Technology premium weblog, Shore Senior Analyst Jack McConville picks apart how McGraw-Hill is preparing to spend big on the shifting securities research landscape, Thomson's surge in ONE workstation revenues and Mitsubishi's selection of Reuters for a web-based research and analytics desktop solution. more...

News Analysis - Desert Visions: Topics of Discussion for Next Year's Buying and Selling eContent Conference

This year's edition of the  Buying and Selling eContent Conference from Information Today, Inc. featured numerous panels and discussions (covered extensively in our weblogs) which demonstrated that the best practices of publishers, distributors and their institutional clients are beginning to catch up with an era of content increasingly oriented towards the success of Web-literate individuals. But those same savvy individuals generally don't wait for these established players to learn the next big lesson in content value anymore.  Who will be providing next year's big messages to the assembled content hot shots? Chances are there will be some new faces in the mix - with new models for success in creating value from premium, institutional and individual content. more...

Inbox Report: Book on "Reuters: The Illusion of Power"

I was interested to see popping in to by email inbox this morning an announcement of a new book on Reuters Group PLC entitled Reuters: The Illusion of Power, by David M Robertson. The email included a PDFed table of contents and an excerpt from the book's preface. The book's table of contents includes section headings with juicy titles such as "Getting a Job at Reuters", "(Re)Birth of an Inheritance", "Blowing the Inheritance", "Wild Nights in Bangkok", "The Glocer Experiment" and so on, including analysis of Reuters financials and the company's vision, strategy and execution plan under a succession of CEOs. The email also claims "a faked number in the 2002 Annual Report, challenging the creditability of the news agency business to establish whether stated values of integrity, independence and freedom from bias are real or simply rhetoric." There are no details as to how to purchase the book in the email, save a return email address to "DMR Publications." It's easy enough to get the gist of this 250-plus page book via this email, and with a little more common sense use of online ecommerce methods it might be an interesting example of how books are becoming increasingly powerful as highly targeted content distribution containers. With a little DRM in the picture this kind of viral marketing method could provide a "Star Wars Kid"-like push to titles that may help them emerge from personal treatises to global sensations in a highly organic fashion. As to the content, well, it promises to be a potentially entertaining story of sorts, if but one told in bars and pubs around the world for several years, now.