Tuesday, August 31, 2004

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.
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