Tuesday, August 31, 2004

ProQuest Solidifies Move into ERM Space - and Beyond?

We note with great interest the Library Journal's coverage of ProQuest's purchase of Serials Solutions, a highly respected supplier of tools to help libraries search and manage electronic content collections more effectively. Serials Solutions is moving into the Electronic Resource Management space including federated search capabilities, which combined with their current capabilities makes it a great choice for ProQuest to position itself more effectively as a solutions provider for the library community. But is this where it will stop? The Article Linker, for example, provides a great general infrastructure for deploying OpenURL solutions across an enterprise - or beyond. When you look at how ProQuest has positioned itself with numerous innovators trying to bridge the gap between subscription database content and open Web content, and then look at how it is positioning itself for the institutional space, one wonders whether ProQuest may be positioning itself for a more direct assault on solving the problems of premium content access in more inclusive and open environments as well as for established libraries. Library patrons would certainly benefit if this is the case but it will be interesting to see how the ProQuest business model unfolds with this acquisition.

A Scoop of Vanilla with a Twist: New Premium Search Service Serves Up Premium and Online Content

The new Scoop premium content service from NetContent, Inc. provides content from the open Web, Proquest and Gale - kind of like HighBeam but with a more business oriented twist, as noted in Paula Hane's Information Today article. I signed up for the free trial and discovered a service that's fairly bare-bones in appearance - never hurt Google, mind you - and decent features that have been tuned to the needs of competitive intelligence. Six tabs - home search function, stored searches, alerts triggering taxonomy-driven topic search, company profile lookup and a promised newsfeed publishing feature. First off, searches combine both "good" Web sources and sources from aggregators in one search interface, with options to specify which sources you'd prefer to be included - Web sites, wire services, trade journals, company records from Gale and so on. Thanks for acknowledging what we say at Shore: "good content is where you find it." The taxonomy-based search is limited in its topics - roughly Moreover's default scope. Alerts and stored searches are fairly straightforward and the company lookup is a very handy feature. Pricing of the service is tiered and on the relatively pricey side - $29 a month with alerts and detailed company reports at $35 each or $195 a for a three-month subcription with full company reports access - which hits a much higher mark than Highbeam and actually at somewhat of a premium to Hoover's smallest annual small business plan.

The content and feature set are kind of underwhelming except for the Gale company content but it's a basic first step towards the needs of a business-oriented market. As noted in our news analysis this week many relaunching content technology companies seem to benefit from meeting the needs of specific user groups and market sectors with depth and excellence. Just as technology companies sometimes suffer from the "we've got this great code, how do we market it to human beings?" syndrome, companies that license content collections sometimes fall into "build it and they will come" propositions that fail to add enough value on the front end to attract specific markets. Hopefully Scoop can continue to tune their competitive intelligence angle and come up with a highly tuned business proposition that suits the needs of specific professionals with excellence.

As Microsoft Deducts WinFS from Longhorn Release, Desktop Search Joins Palladium in Bit Bucket

WebProNews confirmed what seemed evident from their recent axing of the new WinFS file system from Microsoft's upcoming "Longhorn" operating system release: their desktop search tool that was supposed to do battle with Google and others vying for local search supremacy is now history as well. We're not going to I.T. you to death on this one, but it's a key factor for content providers to consider. Combined with the also-removed "Palladium" rights management environment and upcoming hardware from Intel and others Microsoft had been promising many kinds of content Nirvana to publishers and institutions alike where there would be one worldwide transparent environment for digital objects to be stored sercurely and monetized easily. Oops. Premium publishers need to get their own "long horns" out and start thinking more seriously about owning their technology futures for secure and universally accessible content objects instead of hoping that Microsoft will simplify matters for them. It's a big, messy world of content out there and it promises to be that way for the foreseeable future.

Headlines for 31 August 2004

Microsoft Confirms No Desktop Search For Longhorn
Be the Portal, Google
Turn Search Into Find
Intranet Trends to Watch For
eBooks Seamlessly Integrated into Sirsi System
FBI Selects Convera's RetrievalWare for Multi-Million Dollar Enterprise License
Groove to ink deals for knowledge management software
Vivisimo Clustering Engine Enhances BoardReader.com
Autonomy Selected to Help Champion Consumers' Rights in the Netherlands
OneSource Information Services Announce New Vice President of Sales

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Monday, August 30, 2004

News Analysis - (Re)launch Pad: Rocketinfo and the Shifting Focus of Content Technology Companies

The newly renamed Rocketinfo, Inc. is a revitalized content technology company emblematic of so many similar tech-born efforts that are discovering the beauties of content focusing on specific market sector and user requirements. They're not abandoning their techie roots but leveraging them effectively to create content solutions that span the gap between pure I.T. solutions and lagging publishers and aggregators with increasing effectiveness. There are worse fates than to succeed by focusing on what people need most with what you do best - and worse ways to create a profitable company that can stand on its own or fit nicely into the folds of a major market sector suitor.

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In Premium Weblogs: Deutsche Bank & Thomas Weisel Partners Latest in the Global Resarch Analyst Settlement

Shore Senior Analyst Jack McConville reports on the expanding scope of the U.S. equities research settlement as more major financial instituions are targeted for independent research sources.

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Headlines for 30 August 2004

A New Scoop for Business Information Makes Its Debut
They Don't Get It (Yet): A Look Back at the Rude Awakening that Was Search Engine Strategies
No resisting RSS
Google, Shmoogle. The Biggest I.P.O.'s Went Unnoticed.
MSN Music: It's really about Windows
Web will never be free of content piracy
Reaping the rewards of compliance to the Freedom of Information Act
CCH and LexisNexis Extend Exclusive Content Relationship
MarketWatch Launches "ETF Trader" Weekly Fund Newsletter for Recommendations and Information
Vignette Ships Industry's Deepest Native Integration of Portal and Content Management

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Saturday, August 28, 2004

iPod Model for e-Books Not Happening

The launch of Apple iPod from HP was front page of the business section in my Saturday morning paper, the San Jose Mercury News. I follow this with interest since both companies are located in my local community of Cupertino, California, and they've had their share of ups and downs, with copious local and national press. Essentially, this is a marketing alliance--the HP version is a different color, an additional logo, and a free "tattoo" to personalize the device. Of course, HP will sell additional entertainer "tattoos", plus a package of 14 printable "tattoos", to be printed on a HP photo printer, of course!

Earlier, this week, I had been interviewed by CNET for an article entitled "Have e-books turned a page?" and asked whether a device was on the horizon for e-books that would transform the publishing industry in the same way that iPod has transformed the music industry. My answer was no--and the biggest issue is the number of titles available in a standard electronic format. The iTunes Music Store has 700,000 available tunes, and the iPod can store up to 5,000 individual tunes. By contrast, there are no more than about 50,000 total e-book titles available in an industry that lists 5 million titles in the venerable Books in Print database, and over 60,000 new titles printed each year. So even if a breakthrough reader hardware were created today, the critical mass of available titles for commercial success is still under development. Perhaps iPod will lead the way for audio books!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Contextual Advertising: What's to Like?

There's lots of room to disagree when it comes to contextual advertising -- and that's what makes the decision on whether or not to participate in programs such as Google AdSense so challenging for publishers right now. What I'm seeing in the market are the first steps towards refining and improving the whole concept, and that, as with all things Internet, will mean even more confusion before we get to anything approaching clarity.

One company that's getting some buzz right now is Quigo. By mixing technology with a new model that combines contextual ad placement with categories such as travel, it claims it is creating an even higher level of relevancy. The underlying logic seems good. For example, if you are a cruise ship operator, do you want your ad on a recipe site where there is mention of a recipe found during someone's travels to Spain , or a travel site talking about all the wonderful things one can do if one travels to Spain? Neither site is a bad place to advertise, but from a clickthrough perspective, the cruise ship company is likely to do better on the travel site.

Some theorists are going further, suggesting that advertisers could place their ads at a central location, and publishers would select what ads to place on their sites. Presumably, they would select the ads most relevant to their audiences in order to maximize clickthroughs, and thus their own revenue. A nice side benefit is that publishers would have complete control over what appears on their sites.

That's an interesting peek into the future, but what about today? My contention is that publishers can't come out winners in the current game of contextual advertising. Here's my reasoning, excerpted from my June speech at the Canadian Business Press annual conference:

Some of us are already engaged in a form of self-abuse by allowing contextual advertising on our sites. The rationale for a publisher to accept advertising from a search engine is simple and seductive: some money from advertisers you'd never sell anyway is better than no money. Some publishers are already reporting nice monthly checks rolling in -- with no work at all. What's not to like? After all, aren't you the clever one for turning the search engines into ad sales reps for you?

Yet what would you say if an independent sales rep came to you and made this proposition:
  • I want you to give me space in your publication, and by the way, I'm looking for good positions, maybe even your home page
  • I'll sell ads into that space, and keep the lion's share of the revenue
  • I won't specifically chase your advertisers, but if they should come to me, tough on you
  • I'll sell using a whole different pricing approach than you use, which may turn out to be a cheaper rate than you offer your advertisers
  • I'll essentially be the judge of who advertises what on your site, without regard to your brand or your market position
  • I'll be building a huge syndicate, so you'll always need me more than I need you
  • I will be telling the advertising community, day in and day out, that my approach to advertising is far superior to yours

How long would that rep be in your office? Probably just long enough for you to stop laughing. Yet when Google talks, we listen.

Contextual advertising may in fact be clever and beneficial if most of your revenue doesn't come from advertising. But if you generate the bulk of your revenue from advertising, you need to be afraid -- very afraid -- of contextual advertising. Let's go back to that rationale I mentioned earlier: you're getting some money from advertisers you'd never sell anyway. Actually, that was the rationale for going with some of the old syndicated advertising services like DoubleClick. They sold massive traffic in broad categories to marketers of broad-appeal consumer products. That is indeed free money for any specialized publication. But if you publish a magazine for, say, the machine tool industry, and a contextual ad appears on your site based on the keywords "NC simulation," that's your advertiser -- or it should be -- meaning the search engine supplying that ad is competing with you and you're helping them do it. Let me say it another way: by definition and design, contextual advertising is competitive with your own advertising sales efforts.

The future of contextual advertising might be a lot friendlier to publishers, but for now, fear and loathing appear to be the correct response.

Headlines for 27 August 2004

Have e-books turned a page?
Professional blogging as a career choice
Meet the Bloggers, Part Two: The Republican Convention
Thomson to Buy KnowledgeNet
Endeavor, Elsevier Engineering Information Develop XML Gateway
IBM to acquire content management firm Venetica
Inteliseek Releases Tools and Technologies to Aid Content Integration, Mining and Analysis
Knowledge Management Gets Practical as Atlassian Announces Confluence 1.2
iPhrase and KnowledgeBase Solutions Join Forces to Deliver Content Authoring
Reducing Expenditures and Driving Costs Out of the Corporate Library Budget

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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Paid Search Ads Thriving at U.K. News Sites, but Trade Journals Tread Lightly

We've been having an interesting internal discussion here at Shore about the value of paid search ads for online publishers from services such as Overture, Google AdSense, Kanoodle and IndustryBrains. According to Silicon.com there's no doubt that United Kingdom-based online publishers such as The Financial Times, Guardian Newspapers and Independent News and Media are enjoying their Overture campaigns, but there's no surprise there when youy come to think of it. In some ways paid search ads are like instant and painless classified ads served up to a highly targeted audience in context with the content that draws them there. Readers can turn instantly into buyers without the overhead of traditional classified operations - though with some careful thought the papers would be wise to consider this route also with their own classifieds. On the other side of the equation are the trade magazine empires such as CMP and IDG which so far shun paid search ads, prefering to go with premium ad sales via traditional channels to gather in as much revenue as possible. This may be the way to go in many ways, but it's very narrow thinking in terms of how to exploit context in their Web operations. Whether with partners like Overture or via their own facilities, the size, shape and intent of paid search ads tend to complement premium ads with full graphics and multimedia very nicely. In analyzing the log files trade publishers may find some interesting opportunities to take them beyond the perceived threats of contextual search ads.

Google to Use AdSense to Pay Bloggers

Now that the fog of IPO fever is lifting a bit it seems that Google is back on track with product developments, finally adding some long-needed business model focus to its weblog facility Blogger. The new proposition for Blogger is simple: "blog for bucks." According to Internetnews.com there is still not a specific revenue split announced, but given the experience provided by AdWords and AdSense it is probably going to be enough to have the vanity blogs feel like they're playing in the big time and the serious weblog content providers a no-hassle business model that might actually pay the car payments, if not the mortgage. Weblog impressarios such as WeblogsInc and Kinja may be discouraged by this move somewhat, but the longer term picture is one in which major publishers have to consider and compete with people who can monetize their content in a very direct fashion without traditional publishing channels or other organizations playing various infomediary/factor roles. After nearly two years of toying with the enormous potential of weblog content value via Blogger, it looks as if this "sleeping" giant is about to do some very interesting things with content business models that challenge those portals more reliant on traditional publishing sources.

Headlines for 26 August 2004

Newspaper websites loving paid search ads
Google to Pay Bloggers
For Your Photocopier's Eyes Only
Pirates hounded out of P2P network
RIAA gives support to Duke University iPod plan
Alacra Adds Institutional Shareholder Services; Corporate Governance Content Now Available Clients
Thomas Industrial Network Buys Technology for Manufacturers to Turn More Engineers into Customers
Lafayette College Selects Cadmus' dPub(TM) and 3Path(TM) to Distribute Prospective Students Info
Pearson Education Creates New Business Units to Accelerate Integration of Print and Technology
Rocketinfo Forms Strategic Alliance with Major News Agency

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Headlines for 25 August 2004

EU to probe Microsoft-Time Warner buy
How Google's Broad Sweep Narrows the Web
Disclosing Information on the Internet: Is It Noise or Is It News?
Playboy posts unused Google excerpt to Web site
Hummingbird Announces Integration with LexisNexis(R) Total Search
Vignette R&D offers single view for content
Microsoft to Publish Blogger's PowerPoint Book
IM use booming at work
Music Companies To Launch Format With CD, DVD

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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

LexisNexis Renews Plumtree Alliance as Hummingbird Courts Legal

Plumtree Software and LexisNexis announced the extension of their marketing alliance at today's LawNet Conference in Phoenix, continuing an arrangement that has allowed the LexisNexis Portal strong extension into the law marketplace with contextualized content. It's a perfect marketing solution for aggregators that are hard-pressed to come up with rich content solutions that rely upon the content of their clients at least as much as their own content, allowing the client to specify custom extensions through the Plumtree framework easily. At the same time Plumtree's portal rival Hummingbird has had a veritable explosion of press releases in the last couple of days coinciding with the same conference event, most recently focusing on integrating knowledge managment with office automation and email services and extension of its capabilities onto Blackberry portable devices. Hummingbird is positioned competitively with LexisNexis in the legal space in the e-filing end of the legal business, but (update 25 August) has announced integration with LexisNexis TotalSearch, spreading further the contextual scope of LexisNexis content. It would be presumptive to say that deep content will always trump deep features but it's interesting to see how the LexisNexis relationship provides a depth to the Plumtree offering that provides value beyond mere integration. Perhaps "Flip" Filipowski was right after all about the goal of integrating premium content services with enterprise portal services - though it seems to work a bit better with profitable and strong allies than with a trumped-up conglomerate of also-rans that never quite gelled.

Headlines for 24 August 2004

Google slammed for corporate sleaze
Ask Jeeves knocking on Japan's door
BlogAds Site Experiencing Outage Amid Surging Interest
Plumtree Software and LexisNexis Renew Strategic Alliance Agreement
TripleHop's MatchPoint Integrates with MS Office to Enable End-to-End Searching from Desktop to Internet
EBSCO Publishing Acquires HealthGate's The Natural Pharmacist, Signs Exclusive Distribution Agreement
Hummingbird Announces Content Library Consolidation for Legal Data Centralization Efforts
Zeppelin Energy Inc. Changing its Name to Rocketinfo Inc.
Inxight and New Taxonomy Partners Provide Faster, More Accurate Information Discovery
ECT News Network Offers KnowledgeStorm’s IT Search and Content for Online Business Publications

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Monday, August 23, 2004

News Analysis - Search for Tomorrow: Specialized Web Search Engines Point to Content's Profits

When The New York Times op/ed section carries a piece focusing on the dominance of major search engines, you know that the time has come for a reality check. While major search engine indeed have changed the face of what's considered valuable content, search technology as a whole is empowering many more suppliers to bring the power of search to far more focused needs and interests in ways that highlight content that the majors leave behind. From enterprise search engines reaching out for Web content to innovative industry suppliers like the Thomas Industrial Network, content's voice is growing through a wide variety of search suppliers that promise greater profits supplying audiences with very specific needs and interests.

Click here to read the full news analysis

Headlines for 23 August 2004

More Is Not Necessarily Better
Is Real a Real Hypocrite on DRM?
EU Law on the Digital Economy (LEN) contains alarming threats to freedom of expression
New Industrial Search Engine - ThomasNet.com - Points to Specialized Future of Search Industry
After shakeout, medical websites find new health - with professionals as well as consumers
EMC Releases Content Integration
It’s Not Just About Searching—It's About Findability
Kazaa owner takes heart in P2P ruling
Hummingbird Delivers Broad New Content Management Functionalities for Legal Professionals
Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel, Mason & Gette LLP Deploy Hummingbird's Business Intelligence Solution

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Future of Magazines is Web Technology

The Red Herring Conference on the Business of Publishing a Magazine at Seybold San Francisco 2004 proved to be an unexpected mix of technology, business, journalism and even social networks. The future of new traditional print magazines, and even established print magazines, is bleak due to high startup costs, decline in print advertising and high print production costs, a picture painted by Larry Crutcher of Veronis, Suhler Stevenson and Thad McIlroy of Arcadia House. Yet, overall, the panels painted a bright picture for publishers willing to experiment with the new technologies of the Web for product development. A magazine exists for an audience, and developing that voice and audience is the most expensive component of a publication. Once the audience is developed, the money follows. Web technologies are inexpensive compared to print, provide much faster feedback, and allow interactivity—all critical factors in developing communities of interest which can be developed into readership.

Blogs dominated the technology discussion. Joichi Ito, an executive with Technorati, and principal VC investor in Movable Type, a leading blogging software, spoke eloquently on the social networking aspects of blogging, and influence on the political process. His advice for magazine publishers is to create permanent URLs so bloggers can create permanent links, which are more valuable than search engine optimization. Susan Mernit of 5ive emphasized the importance of RSS and syndication for broadening audience to specialized niches. She cited Hearst Magazines as magazine publisher with a strong web presence for their magazines. CosmoGirl is a showcase for developing the audience with a successful website presence before launching a new print publication.

Mike Edelhart, formerly CEO of Zinio, sees the future bright for micro-publishing, but not for controlled circulation B-to-B trade publications and general circulation newspapers. Changes in human behavior is key to opportunities—our children are multi-channeled, watching digital TV, listening to music, and instant messaging simultaneously, so “magazines” as content need to respond to remain relevant. Business Week has tapped into college students by providing free email subscriptions, which results in high uptake of print subscriptions at a very low cost. Mitch Ratcliffe creates industry specific blogs as a marketing tool for InnovationWORLD, in addition to being the official blogger for Red Herring. As his blogs gains wider audiences, they attract paying sponsors.

As for Red Herring itself, the Seybold conference marked the relaunch of their print publication which has existed as a website for the past year. As a reader of the “old” monthly Red Herring which bloated and died during the dot com era, I look forward to reading the “new” Red Herring in a weekly format tailored to today’s environment.

Headlines for 20 August 2004

U.S. Court: Grokster, Streamcast not liable for copyright violations
An ear for downloads: Audible succeeding with newsworthy audio content
The Google Playboy Interview In Its Entirety
IOC prevents athletes from reporting on experiences through weblogs
Intelliseek Now Analyzes Content From Millions Of Blogs
CoreMedia Announces New Phase of MINDS Project
New study on Licensing and Copyright Mgt.: Best Practices of College, Special and Research Libraries
LexisNexis, NYC 2004 Host Committee to Support Media and Guests at Republican National Convention
Yonhap-Reuters Agreement Enhances Korean News Content
Solcara makes its case to the legal profession for knowledge management and enterprise search

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Search Local, Shop Local

In posts past, I've dissed the newspaper industry for not harnessing the Web to build local buying guides and shopping sites, given what I see are built-in advantages to dominate local search. That's why it was with great anticipation that I went to take a look at ShopLocal.com, the newly announced local shopping site from CrossMedia Services, a company jointly owned by newspaper giants Gannett, Knight-Ridder, and Tribune Company.

Rather than a series of local micro-sites, the newspaper giants are thinking big and have built a national site to drive local shopping. But you quickly get to local offers by entering your city name or zip code on the opening screen. Any indications that the site was affiliated with my local newspaper were conspicuously absent, and there wasn't much in the way of explanatory text to position the site to users or even describe its contents and purpose.

I entered a zip code for Philadelphia and got a search results page split into three sections: categories, stores and brands. The category section of the screen gave me a list of yellow pages-like headings from which I could search. The stores section of the screen lists local stores (currently all national chains, buy hey, they're just getting started), and the brands section showed me a list of national brands. For fun, I clicked on "outdoor playsets," and found three offers: CVS offering not playsets, but rather a storewide discount, and two offers from Home Depot for playsets. Under each item was the option to "add to list," which creates a printable list that consumers can take shopping with them to remember what to buy. Under one Home Depot item was the option to "buy online," which didn't sound much like local shopping to me. I clicked on it and found that I could indeed order my playset online. Why do I already feel that ShopLocal may be missing the point?

The other thing I quickly learned about ShopLocal is that it is focused on special offers. Click on a category and you'll be presented with an eclectic list of whatever the various merchants in the category happen to be featuring at that moment -- sort of a giant electronic yard sale. Maybe you want these things, maybe you don't. The classification taxonomy appears to be a work in progress. Under the general heading of "automotive accessories" were only four sub-categories, one highly specific one for "power inverters," two much more general ones and one for "miscellaneous." It's not fatal, but if the site grows, this could quickly become a mess. What's really surprising is that the site doesn't allow users to print coupons to build involvement and help retailers track response -- it merely generates a simple shopping list.

One thing I liked about ShopLocal is that you can attach your email address to any store, brand or category and receive weekly emails with current specials. That's smart marketing, pushing special offers to targeted consumers, but in a way, the power of this feature really makes the rest of the site seem unnecessary.

What I saw with ShopLocal was a national site, utterly devoid of local personality and in no way leveraging or complementing the local paper. The fact that ShopLocal had no local merchants (at least in Philadelphia) I will attribute to its recent launch. However, this is a trap that's befallen other putative local shopping sites --- bringing on true local merchants is a pain compared to selling the big national chains, so guess what: they don't. So ShopLocal's commitment to local shopping will need to be proven over the next few months.

The press release for ShopLocal notes that its mission is to marry online research to offline shopping, making its many convenient links to online ordering a bit mysterious. The press releases also positions ShopLocal as saving the consumer from having to go to numerous different Web sites to find the best deals. But since ShopLocal only lists sale items, it will be a very long time before it has enough mass to present a real comparative shopping experience to consumers.

Another failed online venture by the newspaper industry? Perhaps not. The most interesting thing about the launch of ShopLocal was the sentence in the press release stating "...in the coming months, we expect to announce additional network partners such as portals, online directories, and other newspaper publishers." Will ShopLocal soon be sporting local yellow pages listings? Maybe the newspapers do get it after all.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Next Generation eBook Hardware -- Cool Gadget, but Where's the Content?

After months of hype, I finally got to handle the new Sony Librie ebook reader manufactured by Philips using e-Ink technology. Paul Spijkers, the general manager for electronic ink displays, for Philips, spoke this week at the Red Herring Conference on Publishing a Magazine during the Seybold 2004 Seminar in San Francisco. The device itself has a nice feel--lightweight, slightly larger than a DVD case with a Chiclet style keyboard running below the screen. Very low power requirements means it runs with readily available AAA batteries for months, rather than requiring heavy, expensive batteries. The e-Ink technology significantly improves the screen reading experience, with nearly ordinary paper quality contrast. The demonstration unit had only Japanese content, including anime, which looked crisp in both low light and bright light.

Afterwards, we discussed the content issues. The device has both a memory stick and USB port to download books, so the physical component is there. However, the rights issues are a major stumbling block. The Japanese model is to "lease" books for 60 days, which rules out any library lending business. And right now there are only about 1000 titles available in their proprietary format, hardly enough for commercial success. Paul indicated exploration with a Chinese publishing group that would potentially have 50,000 titles available, a critical mass for commercialization.

Solving book format and rights issues will be key to moving into the European and U.S. markets. De facto, PDF is the standard format, not just for ebooks, but also for unencrypted business reports and periodicals, all of which could be nicely read on such a device. Tellingly, Joel Dreyfus of Red Herring demonstrated reading an ebook on his PDA--admittedly, not as attractive as the Sony device, but with far, far more available content in an open format, plus it fits into his jacket breast pocket. Functionality and content will win the ebook market!

Headlines for 19 August 2004

Google Holds Above $100, Other Web Stocks Retreat
Publishing industry tackles digital rights
Making a Web Search Feel Like a Stroll in the Library
U.S. Court rules for Web users in privacy case
Putting DM into CM: Smarter Information Management
Swets Information Services Launch Title Bank
Infotrieve and Wiley Sign Content Distribution Agreement
OneSource: new edition of its business information product to help companies manage business risk
NetContent Inc. launches Scoop, targeting sales, marketing and communication executives
Maryland Auto Insurance Fund Chooses LexisNexis(R) RiskWise(R) Solutions to Identify and Minimize Fraud

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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Headlines for 18 August 2004

Search Engine Google Cuts IPO Price Range, SEC Investigation Continues
1H04 U.S. Ad Spending Rises 6.4%
Advertisers go digital to track ads
Why Are Salespeople A Good Target For Blogs?
Orchestria to deliver Fast enterprise search system
FactSet Providing MSCI US Equity Index Data
ProQuest K-12 Products to Offer Standards-Based Searching
New Device Segment Advocating Digital Media on the Go, Reports In-Stat/MDR
West Adds Law Reviews, New Treatise to ResultsPlus on Westlaw
www.IAMcafe.com Searches Patent Concepts Using Latent Semantic Analysis

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Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Inbox Report: Factiva Toolbar Upgrade vs. Web News Portals and (kind of) Personal News Pages

An email from Factiva prompted me to upgrade my toolbar and to try out their personal news page function, so I gave it a whirl for a bit. The upgrade was painless enough, though it left the selections on my "View/Toolbars" menu a bit mixed up - now when I click on the selection to remove my Google Toolbar the Factiva toolbar disappears, and vice versa. Oh, well, easily enough understood, I guess. Plugging in some of my favorite news search categories into the toolbar yields a well-targeted set of press releases and some news articles, with a couple that I had not picked up in open Web searches this morning - not hot items, but on target. Applying some of the "Associated News Topics" filters yielded mixed results - the "Computers/Electronics" filter did not have an appreciable effect, the "Arts/Entertainment" filter eliminated some current and useful stories and the combination provided interesting but oftentimes dated results. Categorization can be useful as an exploration tool, but as a filtering tool it sometimes has its limits unless it can aid further re-categorized exploration, which is done nicely via the Start Page's Community features that allow one to explore news via the Factiva taxonomy pretty intuitively. The toolbar has many powerful options which are worth exploring, but in head-to-head results versus Google News, Yahoo! News Search and MSN NewsBot it's not a notably stronger result and sometimes lacks key online sources. Well, on to setting up a personal news page via the "Advanced" tab, which offers features to allow you to craft a Web page with saved searches, document location via Celex and EU number (and this personal...how?), a quick search for stock quotes (but no watch list setup) and a "Newsstand" of user-selected stories from major publications via publication sections. One can choose which of these features and others appear on the pages, but there's no flexibility in ordering them: so, if you want to have Celex lookup, it's stuck on top and if you want saved search results to appear, they're at the bottom, stuck underneath the Newsstand results if you chose those. Newsstand will list about 30-odd stories from the business sections of The New York Times and The Times of London as an example, a few too many for me to digest effectively. Well, it was worth a try. I'll continue to try out the search features, but overall the Factiva toolbar family of features remains a work in progress.

Headlines for 17 August 2004

Google stock options investigated once again by SEC
Nice Problem: How Will Google Use $2 Billion?
Blu-ray burns for interactive content
The New Digital Media: You Might Have It, But Not Really Own It
EU Delays Decision on Microsoft/Time Warner Deal
Target Your Brand: Build a library identity that works in the age of the superstore
Blogs: The Marketing Killer
Cadmus Communications Launches Innovative Delivery Service for Digital Content
Six Apart Launches the Six Apart Professional Network and Announces Winners of Its Developer Contest
RealNetworks Kicks Off 'Freedom of Choice' Campaign With Biggest Music Sale in History

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Monday, August 16, 2004

News Analysis - Media Masala: How Offshoring News Production will Change the Publishing Marketplace

Reuters appears to be moving forward with plans to move some of its editorial operations to its Indian offices, in spite of increasingly vocal opposition from its unionized journalists. With reduced margins in the news business widespread the lure of offshoring appears to be an irresistible option for major news organizations, even as they try to navigate the most delicate issues of how local news teams will fare in the years ahead. It's bound to be a painful transition for some but in the end it's likely to allow news publishers to transform the craft of journalism into something far more dynamic and influential than found in today's news operations.

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Headlines for 16 August 2004

Play Boys: Google IPO a Go Anyway
Reuters' Offshore Story
Microsoft warns UK firms on 'content chaos'
Sensis cooks up an Australian information storm
Blogs Build Buzz, Raise Copyright Questions
Thomson to Acquire Capstar
OneSource Addresses Key Sales Knowledge Management Issues Identified in New Study
ClearForest Text Analytics 6.0 Platform Drives Unified Business Intelligence
Feedster Offers Users a Choice for Ads in RSS
Peppercoin Relocates to Larger Office to Accommodate Business Growth
Wolters Kluwer Sells KnowledgePoint To Recruitmax

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Google's IT Partner Revealed

Back in May when Google first filed its S-1, I suggested that the third-party service provider to whom Google was planning to outsource its billing, collection, credit evaluation, and AdSense tracking, might make a good investment. (Note, this was not intended as investment advice; rather as a suggestion that the partner company would likely benefit handsomely from a contract with Google.) At the time of the initial filing, the partner remained unnamed. In the latest amendment to the S-1, the partner is revealed as Bertelsmann AG. It would appear that the Arvato group, a division of Bertelsmann, is the service provider. I'll include an update when I get confirmation or clarification that the Arvato group is indeed the partner.

Given that the recently-revealed third-party is part of media giant Bertelsmann, betting on the future of this diversified company based on the Google deal is a bit extreme. Nonetheless, it's a positive sign that Bertelsmann has invested in acquiring the technology know-how and infrastructure for implementing and tracking the functions associated with online publishing and e-commerce. Increasingly, these are critical functions that every publisher must incorporate into its portfolio of expertise--either through inhouse competency or via an outsourced partnership.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

In Premium Weblogs: Standard & Poor's to Provide Nordea Private Label Research, Radianz Services Surge as Reuters Continues to Refocus

In our premium Finance weblog Shore Senior Analyst Jack McConville reports on Standard & Poor's replacement of Nordea bank's equity research operations - the first outsourcing of its kind - while Radianz' customer base and breath of services supported surged to its majority holder Reuters' delight.

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Friday, August 13, 2004

Headlines for 13 August 2004

Microsoft touts 'Sender ID' to fight spam, scams
Despite controversy, Google's auction is a go
Thoughts On Google's IPO
Spyware as a service
Copyright Crusaders Hit Schools
City mulls ProQuest tax breaks
infoUSA CEO Announces Additional Stock Purchase
UPI and EBSCO Publishing Sign Content Licensing Agreement
Attensity Named Company Most Likely to Succeed at Silicon Valley Venture Capital Event
A.T. Kearney Procurement Solutions and Austin-Tetra Formalize Partnership for Supplier Content, Services

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Google IPO Auction Struggles to the Start Line Despite Multiple Miscues

The Wall Street Journal Reports along with other majors (see also CNET's diverse coverage) on the "Perils of Pauline"-like twists and turns of Google's debut as a public company. The finishing touch was the release of an interview of Google's founders by Playboy Magazine on the verge of the auction that may violate the SEC "quiet period" for releasing information pertinent to investors not in SEC statemetns prior to an IPO; if Google's found to have violated this rule, they may be liable to buy back issued shares and start all over. None of this bodes well for Google's still-learning team in the short term and a little humble pie is in order for them to be sure, but it's still rather amazing that a good idea whose time had come is now seeking to transform itself in such a glaring media spotlight. Would Yahoo! have survived if it had tried to go public so far along in its growth? Or Microsoft? There will of course be some tanking of this stock as media scrutiny continues to follow a negative lead and growing pains continue to disappoint, but at the end of the day it's the phenomenal success and loyalty that Google still enjoys on a daily basis that's the real story here. Allowing Google to be just another company for a while once the spotlight dies down may be the best gift that it can receive to allow it to get back to concentrating on its core content missions.

Two-Tier Searching

I want to elaborate on last week's message that we are moving towards two-tier searching, with general search engines "handing off" searches to more specialized search engines and databases.
This prediction is based on my belief that general search engines are not and never can be the single best way to access all information. That's especially true when you don't have access to all information anyway, and the information you do have is highly inconsistent in structure, depth and currency. Layer on top of that the technological limits on full-text searching, and you can start to see why I say this. Interestingly, the hot new search engine start-up of the week, Kozoru, reportedly raised $3 million in venture capital based on the concept of introducing taxonomies into search. This says to me that others are seeing the limits of keyword searching.

The opportunity in second-tier search is to take a specific subject area and cover it deeper and better than a general search engine ever could. This could be expressed as a vertical search engine (take a look at GlobalSpec), a vertical buying guide (look at Hanley-Wood's ebuild.com or Martindale-Hubbell's lawyers.com) or a vertical portal (look at West's findlaw.com). The commonality in all three of these sites is a tight vertical coverage area, proprietary content (if only because the content is stored in such a way that it's invisible to the major search engines), and lots of structure to speed searching and provide precise and consistently presented results.
I suggest that the major search engines will increasingly "hand off" searches to second-tier information sources. That's not to imply that these hand-offs will be free. I suspect second-tier information sources will assume that role through aggressive and expensive pay-per-click programs, and we're already seeing some very expensive exclusivity deals between search engines and specialty buying guides.

This game will get more expensive and competitive before it's over, and the rules of engagement are likely to change over time. Indeed, the general search engines may choose not to explicitly acknowledge that they can't be all things to all people, but this evolution will be hard to stop, because it's logical, natural and the revenue the general search engine might be forgoing is revenue that might never have been theirs anyway.

Is what I am describing the same as what is now being called "vertical search"? Yes and no. Two-tier search includes buying guides and directories, whereas vertical search generally refers to vertical versions of Google. Further, the word "vertical" still sends shivers down many spines, due to such things as vertical portals (ahead of their time) and VerticalNet (out of their minds). Two-tier searching is here already and working quite nicely. What's evolving is the relationship between these specialty search resources and the big general search engines. The better that relationship, the better the prospects for the second-tier search engine.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Headlines for 12 August 2004

Google's IPO auction registration ends Thursday
Transparency Begets Trust in the Ever-Expanding Blogosphere
Hispanic market targeted by AOL: Low-cost PC aims to lure new users
Interactive TV Adds Punch to Viewer Experience
An Online Supplier for Your Desktop Cineplex
Turning jukeboxes into teaching aids: A chat with Duke University's Tracy Futhey
Global security specialist Jane's powers Web site search with Verity K2
OneFN Launches Free DeskTop Financial News Alerting System - InvestorIntelligenceNetwork
TOM Online to Acquire Leading Wireless Entertainment Company in China
Sony Teams with Smarte Solutions on Digital Rights Management for PC-Based Movies, Music, Content

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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

John Fairfax Holdings Clarification: Sounds Like a Global Exclusive

I noted Rafat Ali's posting on PaidContent.org regarding the recent piece in Information Today regarding John Fairfax Holdings Limited's new deal with Factiva; according to Rafat's piece it was not a deal that was excluding LexisNexis, Thomson Dialog and other major aggregators. I checked in with Marydee Ojala, Editor at Information Today, and she reports the following: "The person I spoke with at Fairfax confirmed that the Australian publications would be pulled from Dialog and LexisNexis and that Factiva would be 'the only international vendor offering full text content.'" Shore's not in the breaking news business - we leave that to talented folks like Marydee and Rafat - but it sounds as if perhaps the two separate contacts that they spoke to had two very different perspectives on this deal. Clearly domestic deals were not affected by this move by JFHL, but as far as we can see the main point that we were making in our news analysis on this topic seems to stand: Factiva appears to have gained a tactical edge in licensing against its primary competitors. As we point out in the piece, the real issue from our perspective is how licensing advantages play out in the greater battle for aggregation services. It's a complex picture, and getting only moreso. Our thanks to both Rafat and Marydee for shedding some additional light on this significant development.

Telemart to Offer Marketplace for Indian Content Rights: What if We Went Further?

It was one of those days when so many headlines could or should have been included - the Napster-Roxio realignment is no small potatoes to be sure, nor Google's evolving IPO - but I was fascinated by the news item from Press Trust and other Indian outlets regarding an upcoming event in September for those seeking to sell and buy rights to television and other content delivered by this burgeoning nation's satellite network. The event is planned as an annual marketplace, not so different from the conferences held elsewhere in more developed media markets. No huge surprises there, but what if we in fact had a worldwide market for content rights similar to the electronic financial markets that dominate securities trading? Similar market management techniques have been extended to the energy markets, of course; while folks like Enron got a little carried away in how to apply these techniques, they worked nevertheless. What if major institutions could put out bids for content requirements on an electronic network that could find best pricing via an auction process? Not so far-fetched given today's technology, and with rights management available to enforce contract terms it would make fulfillment fairly simple to manage. You never know what may happen...

Digital Document Developments: PDF Still the Champ, for Better or Worse

Kudos to Ron Miller in EContent Magazine for a great review of today's options for digital document formats that go beyond Adobe's ubiquitous PDF format and include innovative offerings from Verity and NXTbook, as well as the now-familiar offerings from Zinio and NewsStand. The NXTbook offering is sans digital rights (citing lack of Web standards as an underlying factor) and is a little raw around the edges but does offer some good basic page-turning features and favors page layouts that actually fit on digital device screens nicely, which is a refreshing change of pace, but without some sort of rights management capability its opportunities versus PDFs will be limited. On the other hand Zino and NewsStand are all about digital rights and protecting existing models and formats, and they suffer greatly from the latter while gaining very little new audience from the former. Verity's Liquid Office offers nice forms-oriented interfaces that make it easy for documents on the go to update databases, but this leaves a rather limited scope of utility. With the ability to support a multiplicity of publisher and personal presentation formats, a rich feature set and support for DRM for eBooks and other enterprise-oriented document rights management options, PDFs remain hands-down the most friendly premium digital content objects available today. Now if only the Acrobat software could get to be a little slimmer...

Headlines for 11 August 2004

We're All Journalists Now
Congressional economists tackle copyright issues
Beyond PDF: Digital Delivery Develops
Yahoo's New Local Search Targets Google and Yellow Pages
First Television Content Marketplace
Search engine startup gets funds
Magazines give Web features a make-over
New Science Database from Thomson Gale Correlates Content to National and State Standards
Infotrieve Offers New Federated Search Solution for Library Management Technology Platform Integration
Digital 5 Partners With Gracenote Making Managing of Digital Music Easier in the Connected Digital Home

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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Headlines for 10 August 2004

Seeing Google With the Eyes of Forrest Gump
Google, Yahoo bury the legal hatchet
Nokia looks to DIY content with Lifeblog
Online Data is Gold Mine for Terrorists
Sony Walkman Enters Digital Era
Sharp plans to sell 3-D flat panel display to consumers
MarketWatch.com, Inc. Changes Corporate Name to MarketWatch, Inc.
OUP acquires LexisNexis' books
United Press International and The Sports Network Now Partners on Sports News Content
Factiva Named Official Provider to the 2004 Republican National Convention

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Stickiness is Back, but With a Difference

The New York Times notes that Web ecommerce sites have been going long on content again, but whereas the dot-com era saw waves of sites adding syndicated content today's ecommerce sites are rediscovering the value of unique content from customers that guides and adds depth to the online shopping experience. Content that offers genuine contextual value to a purchaser is the key, as opposed to discussion forums that oftentimes have little focus and specific added value, along with "atmospheric" content that gives people the feel that their online purchase has both physical reality and subliminal appeal. Today's stickiness is about providing just enough content to guide a person to a buying decision, merchandizing tools that provide atmosphere and relationship building in a well-planned and usable context. Tools such as Endeca's Guided Navigation also help to provide the right content into the buying experience, creating an endless combination of content-studded "kiosks" in which users may consider purchases as they consider different categories of content and merchandise. If it works for toys and books there's no reason that it cannot work for more forms of premium content - for those companies who are willing to allow user-centric navigation reign in developing premium content services. Here's to stickiness - and to content that adds value to published content without a lot of publisher-oriented nonsense in the way of getting its value to market.

Monday, August 9, 2004

News Analysis - Dark Continent: How Factiva's Fairfax Exclusive Signals Sharpened Competition for Aggregation

In the stroke of a pen a huge swath of Australia's premium content has disappeared behind the firewall of Factiva's exclusive distribution agreement with John Fairfax Holdings Limited - a coup for the child of Dow Jones and Reuters and a major blow to competitors such as LexisNexis and Thomson Dialog. A continent-wide deal such as this is bound to have major ramifications, but don't mistake exclusives as the villain in this unfolding drama. The true culprit is a way of doing business that in large part doesn't work anymore, forcing Factiva and others to consider more focused competitive tactics that mask the need for deeper changes to the manner in which aggregators provide value. Expect retaliatory exclusives to increase in the months ahead, but look also for players with more visionary outlooks on enabling premium content value to make significant strides.

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Headlines for 9 August 2004

More E-Commerce Sites Aim to Add 'Sticky' Content
Controversial documents reveal details about what Google search engine ad rules accept, reject
Australian Publisher Fairfax Signs Exclusive with Factiva
Google prices its stock buyback
How Enhanced Stock Disclosure Rules Have Raised Costs for Small Firms
Next-generation search tools to refine results
Ambient Devices: Content as Color and Motion
A blueprint for better copyright law
ProQuest ABI/INFORM® To Offer Scholar Universe™ Profiles from ContentScan
Open Text Releases FirstClass 8.0, Powerful New Features in Communication Platform

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Friday, August 6, 2004

Life with NewsBot: When will Publishers Get the Hint that News Search Engines are a Real Opportunity?

It's been about a week since I've started using Microsoft's NewsBot as part of our headline-gathering routine here at Shore, and while the results are somewhat better than their earlier U.K.-based beta version, it still has a ways to go before it can be called ready for production. It does a remarkably good job now on finding at least a couple of highly relevant news links in the first several stories returned, but after that the depth of results tend to fall off much more quickly than similar services from Google and Yahoo!. The user interface is also somewhat immature, with links for cruising to addtional pages of results downright difficut to click on, but the NewsBot home page has some nice features for mining community interests and personal views. NewsBot is getting much closer to being a competitive service, which raises the pressure on publishers who would like to ignore this trend in news aggregation all the more. With the three major English-language portals pushing for automated news aggregation with generally strong offerings, when is it going to dawn on major publishers that it's a good thing that search technologies allow individuals to build their own news streams to their own satisfaction easily and effectively in ways that they cannot replicate easily within standalone editorial sites? Enterprise portal providers have been doing this with their news for years, so it should be no surprise to them that consumers and individual professionals would want that kind of functionality for their benefit. The world is a database, and it's up to premium pubishers to place their content in the flow of that database in the most accessible manner possible. Monetization can be a central part of that picture, but as long as search engines are seen as an external threat and not one of the key opportunities for news providers moving forward they will yet again be leaving the door open to new sources of content that can do better in an open marketplace.

Headlines for 6 August 2004

Google IPO: No longer a sure thing?
Yahoo takes on Microsoft in desktop search
Cingular and Yahoo Partner for Wireless Internet
Pharmaceutical Industry driving R&D content technologies
IBM Technologist Sees Expanded Role For Databases
The revolution will not be blogged
Reuters Launches Free Trial campaign targeting the Publishing Market
Wolters Kluwer Signs Distribution Deal With Allscripts
LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell Expands Permitted Uses of Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings
Zeppelin Acquires Rocket Technologies

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Thursday, August 5, 2004

Winners and Losers in Local Search

It's officially a gold rush, with everyone now stampeding to mine the allegedly huge dollars to be found in the local search market. Let's not be bothered with whether or not what's being sold is what the market needs -- that would spoil all the fun.

Google and Yahoo now have beta versions of their answers to local search open for inspection. My quick review: they're better than I would have expected, but a long way from what's needed. AskJeeves has partnered with CitySearch so that its local restaurant and nightclub listings will appear prominently in applicable search results. In the yellow pages area, FindWhat has announced that Canada' s Yellow Pages Group will be grafting FindWhat pay per click auction technology onto its site, perhaps more evidence of a mini-trend in this area. Every other yellow pages publisher is out with their own local search initiatives, all fervently hoping that local retailers will deliver the online riches that have eluded them to date.

As Janice McCallum points out in her posting, local newspapers are the group best positioned to benefit from local search, but they continue to sit around as more nimble competitors rip the guts out of their businesses. Just as newspapers saw their classified advertising business decimated, local search may ultimately start to cut into newspaper display advertising, which might finally spur them into some sort of coherent reaction. Newspapers have always jealously watched the yellow page business. Indeed, most major newspapers have at one time or another owned yellow pages publishing companies, only to divest them after concluding they just didn't "get" the directory business. Now with the Internet, there actually would be some great synergies between newspapers and yellow pages, but newspapers still feel burned by their earlier yellow pages experiences.

So who's going to win in the local search game? Here are my predictions:

I agree with Janice McCallum that newspapers are the best positioned to be the winners in local search, but they've got to overcome their own inertia, previous bad experiences with directory publishing, fighting a multi-front war over their classified advertising, and the surprising continued strength of the print yellow pages business, which limits their openings. I just don't see newspapers pulling it off, especially since they need to overcome the biggest obstacle of them all: themselves.

As to the big search engines, I personally believe the cracks are starting to show as they push to be all things to all people. The future of search -- yes you heard it here first -- is two-tier searching, where the big general search engines hand off certain types of searches to specialist search engines/directories/yellow pages.

Local yellow pages publishers have always dreamt of being national yellow pages publishers. The Web let them indulge that dream, and indulge they did. Of course, while these publishers raced to build out national content, they never built out their regional sales forces. Is it any surprise they aren't drowning in ads? For several years, I've been urging yellow pages publishers to play to their local strengths. I'm currently estimating it will take 2-4 years for them to get up enough courage to try, and then they'll be contenders.

Long-shot possibilities? Think about Comcast, or even AOL, both of whom have unique capabilities to target content geographically, and a still significant "home page advantage." Stretch your imagination a little further and you might come up with InterActive Corporation, a powerhouse in local listings with holdings such as Citysearch, TripAdvisor, Evite, ServiceMaster, but seemingly more interested (for now) in the rich transaction revenues generated by its Ticketmaster, Hotels.com and Expedia units.

Bottom line: local search will happen, and it will be big, but it's going to be a big, sloppy, crazy competitive mess for 2-4 years before yellow pages publishers realize they should focus on selling ads where they actually have salesforces. Then we'll have our winner.

Search vs. Search Marketing Isn't Easy

The Search Engine Strategies 2004 conference this week in Silicon Valley, the birthplace of search and search engines, was the largest yet for this hot sector. As I listened to Danny Sullivan's keynote speech in the San Jose convention center, the juxtaposition struck me. Only a few blocks away, I'll be teaching a class on online searching to library school students , more specifically, how to find authoritative information online. This information does not advertise, much of it doesn't have links, but it is invaluable for decision making. Search and search strategies mean figuring out sources--government regulations and laws, public records, scientific and medical literature, patents, among the many types of relevant content.

Inside the conference, search really meant search marketing, and even this has split into two camps: "organic" listings referred to as PR, and "paid" listings. The technical crowd dominated the sessions with link strategies, search engine optimization, and site architectures to ensure high natural search engine rankings. The advertising crowd was talking a different language--landing pages, product categories, cost per click and conversion rates. For both, content was good, but secondary to keywords.

A direct marketing manager commented to me that he should have brought his webmaster to figure out how to put all the pieces together, and therein lies the challenge. These share a common technical platform, but the objectives are different. Can an all purpose Google serve the content finders as well as the buyers of goods and services? Or is the future specialized search engines, akin to Froogle and Amazon? My vote is with the niche.

Headlines for 5 August 2004

Google Cops to Illegal Share Distribution
Microsoft could triumph over Linux thanks to copyright law
New search tool gets billionaire's backing
Dear Bloggers: Media Discover Promotional Potential of Blogosphere
Meanwhile: The great leap online that is stirring China
Lawyers.com Enables Organizations to Quickly Add LexisNexis M-H Attorney Search Engine to Web Sites
NewsGator Technologies Gains Exclusive Agreement with Leadership Development Expert Gene Mage
PureSight releases first comprehensive Internet Content Filtering Solution for mobile systems
chinadotcom Posts 26% Q-o-Q Revenue Growth to US$45.1 Million, 38% Q-o-Q Increase in Gross Profit
Thomson Announces FCC Approval of SmartRight Digital Content Protection System "Broadcast Flag'

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Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Blogs as the Marketplace of Ideas - In Investment Banking

Quote of the week goes to JP Rangaswami, global CIO at investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, who is quoted in a Silicon.com CIO roundtable on weblogs: "Blogging is the open-sourcing of ideas, allowing us to move closer to perfect markets for information where asymmetry has no value. We have had blogs at DrKW for a while now, and are experimenting with externalising them." It's both fascinating and not surprising that this echoing of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' landmark "marketplace of ideas" concept in support of open content markets comes not from some wild-eyed radical but from the CIO of a major global investment bank. Securities trading is capitalism in its most refined form, hating inefficiencies and favoring those with the most insight and the ability to exploit it. Being able to publish one's outlook on the markets without having to hassle with market data vendors is a nirvana that I-banks have chased through many content channels. Weblogs may not be the perfect technology for this dissemination, but their ubiquity and open standards make it easy for markets to peddle their intellectual property with direct transaction-oriented results. In a global marketplace for investment ideas, weblogs may be just the thing to create threads of an intellectual fabric that is geniune, immediate and immediately contributing to the bottom line of major institutions.

Newspapers as Local Buying Guides

Local search is back in the headlines again with recent announcements by Yahoo! and AskJeeves that they are offering improved local search capabilities and content. In a "change partners" move, Yahoo! is reducing its reliance on IAC's CitySearch, while AskJeeves is touting its new relationship with CitySearch for local listings and reviews.

The Kelsey Group provides metrics that indicate that 25% of searches have a local component, and that significant proportion is what is driving the major search engines to promote their local search superiority over one another. But, attracting the searchers is only half of the equation--and it's not the half that pays the bills. To be successful, local search solutions have to attract the local advertisers. As Russell Perkins points out in an earlier posting, the complexity of bidding for placement of keywords on search engines and the increasing cost that is resulting from the growing number of bidders and the presence of larger advertisers with bigger budgets will lead to advertiser backlash--especially among small merchants that typically advertise only in local yellow pages and newspapers.

Which leads to the essence of this posting. Since local newspapers are the primary advertising vehicle for local merchants and classified advertisers for timely promotions, and since local shoppers, restaurant-goers, theatre-attendees, job-seekers, and house-hunters look to the local newspaper to discover what is currently available to them in their region, shouldn't the Websites of local newspapers be the obvious source and destination for local search? Clearly the newspaper companies have some work to do to expand and improve their online offerings. But, if they invest in local listings and build upon their existing relationships with local advertisers and local residents, they can provide a much more targeted audience for advertisers and a much richer and full-featured content offering for information seekers than could the mega search engines. To refer back to Russell's posting, newspapers could become local buying guides for consumers and the two-tier search advertising model he proposes would be a possible solution to the complexities faced by small local advertisers who want to reach prospective buyers online.

Headlines for 4 August 2004

CIO Jury: Corporates get blogging bug
Linux, digital rights on collision course
Microsoft Aims For Personalized Search
The curse of IT specialisation: lessons to learn from the content industry
Element K Introduces New Online Reference Product
Endeca Raises Expectations of Search With New Enterprise Platform Release
PR Newswire Expands Reach to Chinese Investors in North America via Alliance with ChineseWorldNet.com
E-Data Commences Litigation Against 14 Companies in the U.S. after Settlement with Apple in Europe
Factiva Search and Track Tools Available for BEA WebLogic Portal Customers
WebCT and MERLOT Form Strategic Partnership to Energize Inter-Institution Learning Content Exchange

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Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Headlines for 3 August 2004

Yahoo, Ask Jeeves out to lure locals
Crm Is "Killer App" in Corporate Social Networking Shakeout
Digital Rights: Give Peace a Chance
HighBeam helps companies sift through information
Making the Most of Data
Cerience Unveils New Solution for Mobilizing PDF Content
Thomson Learning Designates Cadmus as its First XML Content Automation Partner
LION bioscience and TEMIS in Partnership to Enhance Text Mining Solutions for the Life Science Industry
Deutsche Bundesbank Selects Autonomy
Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin Selects TripleHop's MatchPoint As Company-wide Search Software

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Monday, August 2, 2004

News Analysis - Screen Door: How Growing Support for Open Access Journals Challenges Content Markets

On two continents legislators in recent weeks have decided that the benefits of publishers and aggregators taking substantial profits for distributing publicly financed scientific research no longer outweigh the costs to the individuals and institutions funding that research. First in the U.S. House of Representatives and then in the U.K.'s Parliament, the proposals for opening up public research to free access have already spurred Oxford Press to join the open access journal bandwagon. Aggregators will hem and haw and lobby all they want, but the fundamental question of their value has been broached in ways that their clients are not likely to let them forget. It's time for aggregators and publishers of scientific content to make major decisions about their futures - before the screen door hits them on the way out of the picture.

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In Premium Weblogs: Thomson Financial Tops 188K Workstations, Equities Research Picks, Reuters Earnings & Denial of Telerate Interest

In our premium Finance weblog Shore Senior Analyst Jack McConville reports on the recent Thomson and Reuters financial earnings reports, wins by suppliers of equities research in the runup to meeting the Spitzer judgment requirements and the Reuters denial of interest in Telerate.

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Headlines for 2 August 2004

`Big Media' may lose out to readers' reporting
Forbes.com Puts Advertiser Links in News Stories
With Shopping Magazines Thriving, Who Needs Articles?
Microsoft Expands Search Skills with Newsbot
Ad strategy makes Google a powerhouse
Education Business Boosts Washington Post's Net 40% - News Ad Revenue up 1%
How Google Will Have Achieved The Semantic Web
Managing to keep online content together
Research and Markets: E-Content & Commerce Venture Capital Report 2004
Growing List of Prisons Installing Legal Research Kiosks for Inmates

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