Tuesday, May 23, 2006

FT Stares Down Enterprise Aggregators: Is it Safe to Take a Walk?

The Editor's Weblog posts a good piece on the Financial Times' recent decision to extend the time for postponing posting of their news content to major content aggregation services from 12 hours to 24 hours. As John Burke points out there are many aggregators who scoff at this move, pointing out that knowledge workers in today's enterprises prefer to get content in one place via applications that they trust. With an elite print readership the FT has been slow to pick up the pace of developing its online presence, but as European online markets heat up they've begun to take a fresh look at how they position content for their users.

While John Burke and the aggregators have an important point about valuable contexts provided by aggregation services, it's an argument that tends to sidestep the obvious concern that many publishers have with managing contexts with users in aggregation services today. Typical content aggregation services strip out everything but metadata and raw text from a news provider's content, leaving little for their users to click on if they'd like more value and depth from the publisher. Most want it that way via aggregators to encourage more direct relationships where possible, but the increasing use of open Web search engines as a source of referrals for ad-driven online revenues is pushing many publishers to reconsider carefully how they license content through aggregators.

At the same time Google Co-op encourages premium publishers to add metadata and navigation context to their content similar to that provided by the enterprise aggregators - in an environment that allows for direct access to original versions of publishers' content. The argument for publishers working with major aggregators to license content still holds water, but it's time for both publishers and aggregators to consider how they can do a better job of providing both normalized search results and access to the richest versions of content available from a publisher in context - whether as an included part of their aggregator subscription or via their direct relationship with a publisher. As the "where" of content becomes less about where it came from and more about how valuable it can be in user-defined contexts the issues surrounding aggregator content licensing will be rising to the fore in ever-larger ways.
Post a Comment