Friday, June 30, 2006

The Portable Me II: Vonage Appliance Hints at the Power of Portable Media

When I wrote my news analysis piece a few weeks back on the rising importance of portable storage media as content serving platforms, little did I think that such a neat example of this concept in action would surface so quickly. CNET's piece on their new V-Phone USB appliance provides portable storage packaged as a communications solution. Plug the V-Phone into any Windows PC's USB port and you have a ready-to-go Vonage connection complete with mike and headset - no software loading required and a spare 256MB of storage for files or contact lists. When wireless server connectivity gets small enough and cheap enough to fit into a "stick" appliance that can bypass USB ports as needed we're going to see these kinds of solutions bloom left and right - and along with them a new generation of mobile content services and solutions that will have cross-platform capabilities. That's probably not too far off: already wireless file servers are about the size of a paperback book. Keep your eyes open, there is more to come.

Headlines for 30 June 2006

Trends
Big Media's Brave New World
Forbes
Microsoft exec jumps to Google
CNN Money
French lawmakers approve 'iTunes law'
AP via USA Today
Congress targets social-networking sites
CNET News
ProQuest Company Provides Updated Timing for Completion of Investigation
PR Newswire via FinanzenNet

Best Practices

Future Of Media: Draft For An Open, Emergent, Strategic Framework
Robin Good

Cool Tools
Is that a V-Phone in your pocket?
CNET News Gadgets Blog

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

RR Donnelley and EDGAR Online Launch Drive to Boost SEC XBRL Voluntary Filing Program Participants
PR Newswire via FinanzenNet

Products, Markets & People
ReedLink Makes Content Distribution Really Simple with RSS
BusinessWire

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Google Checkout Integrates Google Advertisers with a Universal Wallet

While it's not the most amazing development in ecommerce - universal online "wallets" have come and gone through the years, after all - the new Google Checkout ecommerce capability is noteworthy for Googlish simplicity and universality that makes it a breeze to integrate. Neither a PayPal substitute nor a shopping cart service per se, Google Checkout provides a person the ability to execute one-off purchases on the Web via any site that chooses to embed Google Checkout payment buttons into a Web page displaying an item for sale. Click on a Google Checkout "Buy Now" button and you will get a one-click shopping experience that clears the payment and alerts the merchant of your purchase. There is no fulfillment or shopping cart management: purchases are limited to single items, though there is the ability to define multiple price points and descriptions for a single item. You buy it, and you're out. Google does have a network of popular shopping cart software vendors that have integrated Google Checkout buttons already with their software, so it is feasible to have some more sophisticated capabilities from the get-go.

The nifty part of the Google Checkout program is that it offers a slight discount to advertisers using the Google AdWords program and the option of a common administrative login, encouraging merchants to have a one-stop source to acquire and monetize online audiences. Since Google Checkout integrates so easily with a Web site it's quite feasible to maintain existing ecommerce capabilities and drop in Google Checkout buttons in parallel, making it easy for users to get a trusted feeling coming in from a Google ad and a trusted feeling on the way out via their purchase capabilities. The combination of the ad program and the checkout program makes for an instant distributed eBay competitor: Froogle, Google Base, standard search results, Google Books or Google Scholar is the shopping center, but via AdWords and the AdSense network or direct browsing consumers can bypass the shopping center altogether and go straight to the merchant - while still offering Google a piece of the action as a trusted neutral party. This combination could be a powerful deterrent to the growth of the eBay ad network

It's too early to tell if Google Checkout will attain widespread use quickly, but one senses that Google's brand value as a neutral third party with fewer hidden agendas than other companies (we're talking perceptions here, mind you) and the lack of any localized software "hooks" via the service will encourage users and merchants to sign up. The lack of sophisticated infrastructure in Google Checkout is rather a plus for most publishers, in that content purchasers can be encouraged to execute a purchase via a trusted financial venue while keeping the management of online subscription access and purchase fulfillment services undisturbed. Google Checkout is not going to change the ecommerce strategies of publishers in a large way but it is yet another tool that can be used in both personal and professional settings to facilitate the acquisition of premium content sources on an "on the fly" basis simply and effectively. Looks like GoogleZon may not have been necessary after all...

Alacra Debuts Premium Content Feeds for Research and News

The announcement of Alacra's new family of RSS feeds for premium content comes as rather a coup for the business information services provider. Anyone can add to their weblog news reader feeds of new report notifications available via RSS from the Alacra Store on specific companies (example feed: Wells Fargo) or from a specific publisher (example: Fitch Research) or even a feed of business news and selected business-oriented weblogs from Newstex (example). The feed provides a headline and a brief snippet from the item, which can be clicked on to bring one to the purchase offer page in the Alacra Store. While it's not likely that the average person will be using this setup to order USD 10 access to press releases, the average busy consultant who can bill through such expenses will certainly be interested, as will analysts and other professionals who focus on specific companies but who want to pick and choose premium reports carefully on any given day.

Focused RSS feeds are a natural for the business and financial analysis community. Historically these users have relied on email inboxes to get research pushed from investment banks and other sources: in many ways their "inboxes" are their desktops. With email becoming an increasingly polluted and unreliable distribution channel, RSS provides premium content distributors with the ability to feed headlines and highlights directly into these users' inboxes via newsreader software and bypass the ugliness of email. Factiva has experimented with RSS feeds for very broad categories of premium news content for their subscribers, but their feeds lack the granularity and depth of premium content that Alacra is offering via this service.

Shore's research into business content purchasing indicates clearly that business content buyers in a broad range of roles are increasingly interested in "just-in-time" content purchasing, especially when purchases can be matched with "top line" business development and sales opportunities. Tools such as RSS feeds from the Alacra Store allow professionals to have a high level of awareness of the premium content available to them on a focused and proactive basis - and to become purchasers of content that's right for the moment. This is a great tool at a great time for business users. The only real question is: what took the industry so long to get here?

Headlines for 29 July 2006

Trends
Google Checkout checks in
CNET News
US Senate panel backs telco bill, no Net neutrality
Reuters
China vows to step up control over Internet content
AFP
People Power: Blogs, user reviews, photo-sharing – the peer production era has arrived.
Wired Magazine
Forecaster Cuts Estimate for Growth in Ad Spending
The New York Times*
Coen Predicts 25% Surge In Internet Ad Spending
Media Post
BBC sees digital media profits rise by £8.2m
New Media Age
Federated Media Is Clearly Not Going Anywhere - Hey, That's a Double Entendre!
FM Publishing
iTunes at centre of digital rights protest
Reuters
Cable Takes On Web Video
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
How Important Is Knowledge Management For Businesses?
Web Pro News

Cool Tools
digg data visualization model
Information Aesthetics

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

DoubleClick Buys Klipmart
ClickZ Network
MarketResearch.com to Distribute Hanley Wood Market Intelligence Published Research
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Products, Markets & People
Premium Content Web Feeds Now Available From Alacra
BusinessWire via Yahoo! Finance
More Than 150 Customers Deploy Hoover's via Salesforce.com's AppExchange in First Month
PR Newswire
McClatchy and Tribune Introduce New Name for Former KRT News Service
PR Newswire
Springer Launches eBook Program
BusinessWire via Yahoo! Finance
InfoSpace Brings Vast Mobile Content Library Directly to Consumers with Launch of Moviso(R)
BusinessWire via MSN Money
Jupitermedia's JupiterWeb Division Launches ClickLink Advertising Program
BusinessWire
LexisNexis introduces litigation software in Ohio
Columbus Business First

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

ContentNext Mixer: Silicon Alley Redux with Sulzberger in the Spotlight

It was a pleasure to stop by the ContentNext mixer last evening and to catch up with several hundred of paidContent.org's friends and fans. By shortly after six the line to get in to the instant sellout event was already backing up down the staircase at the W Hotel at Union Square in New York City. Thanks to Rafat for a great event and congratulations to the ContentNext family of publications on their new funding and management. It's such a boost to see honest and humble efforts rewarded. Horatio Alger is still alive and well and living in Los Angeles. Business news has a new paradigm through the efforts of journalists like Rafat, one which has brought the value of community conversations to a new level.

Rafat Ali kicked off the festivities with an interview of Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., Chairman, The New York Times Company and Publisher of The New York Times. Rafat did a fine and relatively gentle job of probing the state of the NYT's online efforts, though much of the info coming out was already fairly well known. Probably the most interesting point that came up was Mr. Sulzberger's compare and contrast of the NYT's printing of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 (after several days of excerpts in the newspaper the government stopped the printing by a court injunction) and today's era that would have allowed instantaneous release of the entire range of information gathered by the paper.

The New York Times' recent coverage of bank records surveillance by U.S. government intelligence operatives may yet meet with a governmental response ("Treason...?" Sulzberger mused) but whatever the response the era of instant global publishing and republishing allows leading news organizations to have a much deeper and immediate impact with such provocative editorial efforts. But since these moments come and go so much more quickly the opportunity to monetize them at the zenith of their impact via ad services is more limited. This leaves in doubt the future financing of efforts such as placing correspondents in a Baghdad bureau (a USD 3 million for the NYT before salary expenses, according to Sulzberger). I'll have more on this quandary of finding the right revenue mix for news in this week's news analysis.

The other interesting moment of the Sulzberger interview was when he waxed warmly over the new Times Reader browser, a Microsoft Vista-based application for reading a newspaper in a print-like format on desktop and oversized portable devices. While he has a strong commitment to making online publishing a financial and editorial success, clearly Sulzberger has a soft spot for print that's not going to go away any time soon. When an institution like The New York Times has made so much history and well-designed content in that medium it's hard not to linger with the format, but these little tricks of Microsoft to woo major publishers into feeling comfortable with the transition from print to Microsoft-captive digital revenues are mostly showboat efforts that have little to do with the ultimate future of publishing in electronic environments.

As for the event itself it was an interesting mix of media-covering-media types along with reps from consumer and business publishing services and content technology companies - very representative of Rafat's readership. While the swarm of people focusing on online video technologies seemed to have a good time, the sponsor reps from FAST Search and Transfer looked to be rather glum (hey, doesn't everyone remember how important search is...?). Donna Bogatin at ZDNet gave the event high marks while noting that we've moved from VC-backed events in the dot-com Silicon Alley days to event sponsorships. The current content economy may have a certain bubble aspect to it, but it's a bubble in which people are making money rather than speculating about making money. Donna points out Jeff Jarvis' rather cranky weblog entry in which he puts down "...guys in nametags making pitches for their companies to anyone who would stand still and even those who would not." Well, it WAS a networking event, Jeff...

Looking forward to the Fall event - in a larger facility hopefully. Though bring that caterer again, the canapes were great.

Headlines for 28 June 2006

Trends
Google Gets Ready to Test GBuy, A New Online-Payment Option
WSJ Online*
Ten Possible Consequences of Google's GBuy
Publish
New Media Luring Money Away From Networks
The New York Times*
Is Google Objective? Manual Edits in Search Results
Google Blogoscoped
New Google Mobile Services Keep You Connected To The Information That Matters To You The Most
Robin Good
CMP Parent Company Says Challenges Lie Ahead in Print
FOLIO: Magazine
Leo Hindery's death sentence for the portals
Tech Confidential Blog
Om Malik: Blogging for fun... then profit
USC Annenberg OJR
Craigslist's Craig Newmark--no more Mr. Nice Guy?
CNET News

Best Practices
Search engines: Does market power warrant regulation?
Heise Online
The foolishness of stifling creativity
International Herald Tribune

Cool Tools
Findology Interactive Media Launches CONTENT MAP
BusinessWire
CambridgeDocs xDoc Automatically Extracts Financial Data from Tables within Structured Finance Reports
BusinessWire via Forbes
With a Cellphone as My Guide: GPS-driven Mobile Guides in Japan
The New York Times*

Products, Markets & People
MarkLogic Server 3.1 Delivers More Powerful Search, New Features and Performance Enhancements
BusinessWire
Skyscape(R) Launches MedAlert(TM) Medical Text Messaging Service for Cell Phones
PR Newswire
Industry Moves: Ann Sarnoff To President, Dow Jones Ventures
paidContent.org
Factiva Unveils a Range of Powerful Tools to Combat Politically Exposed Person (PEP) Risk
PR Newswire

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

LexisNexis Unleashes a Barrage of Focused Products for Market Verticals

Someone over in the LexisNexis PR department has their finger stuck on the "Send" key this week. So far we have the announcements of Advanced Government Solutions, which includes Intelligence Analysis Solutions, Total Practice Advantage for Legal markets and the addition of Factset Research to LexisNexis Market Intelligence...and it's only Tuesday. Each one of these are strong integrated offerings for verticals that are spending big on content integration in the public and private sectors: law enforcement, intelligence, general legal practices and M&A specialists. They include the ability to integrate internal, external and internal community content to drive investigations both criminal and commercial. These kinds of highly focused vertical solutions are likely to help LexisNexis expand its high-value-add approach to content services, taking an increasingly neutral approach to content sourcing and focusing very heavily on the goals of their audiences.

The Factset integration is of particular interest, as it claims to provide the first combined litigation and transaction data service via a single platform that can be used to develop clients for legal services in the M&A space from multiple angles. Compare and contract with Factiva, which, though it has received many kudos for its advanced search platform and sales integration tools, has had limited focus on productizing offerings for specific verticals and has not reached out as deeply as LexisNexis as of late for strong content aggregation partners. Neither approach is 100 percent bulletproof, but in an era in which content's value is all about the context, the richer contexts are likely to have the longer and richer returns.

Net Neutrality Debate Widens: Will Tech Companies and Consumers Weigh In?

While I have weighed in already on the importance of Net neutrality for publishers, a few recent items are worth reviewing for the state of the debate. CNET News offers an interview with U.S. Federal Communications Commission member Michael Copps, in which he speaks out strongly in favor of neutrality and urges technology companies to weigh in on the issue through their lobbying channels. By contrast an op/ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle from the Heartland Institute, a purveyor of opinion with a particular outlook, argues that net neutrality actually favors providers such as Microsoft and Google with huge server farms to manage capacity.

It's unfortunate that the Heartland Institute piece has received such prominent billing: it is pure bunk. Every publisher on the Web today pays for bandwidth that connects to the Internet, as does every user. An individual with a small Web site on a server farm pays more for more bandwidth, just as larger providers may pay for dedicated communications bandwidth. Users can order levels of overall bandwidth, as can businesses and other institutions, and not be bothered with how it's managed internal to the Internet itself. The fee structure to manage high-demand services is already in place and is carried proportionately already by those services that want more throughput and by consumers who want more throughput on a non-prejudicial basis.

Consumers both personal and corporate are beginning to become aware of this issue and hopefully will begin to weigh in as well. A great education piece can be found at Amanda Congdon's Rocketboom, in which she points out with good humor the impact of cable TV-like packaging that may fall out of non-neutral approaches: "I've got [the] Bronze [Web package], but boy, do I wish I could get Silver. Then I could get - Google!" In the current U.S. political environment anything is possible, so it's worth considering carefully just how these scenarios may play out.

Further throttles and controls on Web content distribution based on arbitrary fee schedules are absolutely unnecessary and an impediment to the effective growth of online content ecommerce. Should non-neutral connectivity become a legal reality, it would penalize the U.S. economy while favoring nations that have much to gain from a more neutral approach. Hopefully non-media corporations weigh in on this as well, for without neutrality they would be set up for distribution fees on top of communications fees for them to develop their increasingly direct and sophisticated communications with their marketplaces. Should GM pay extra fees to up the multimedia capabilities of their online marketing and weblogs? I don't think that they'd be too interested, hopefully.

The Web is a different animal, no doubt, one which has evolved quickly enough that the potential for new ways to market goods and services is already evident - ways that can only benefit from a level playing field that eliminates unnecessary intrusion by players that have little additional value to add to publishers, enterprises or consumers. There's much for publishers and marketers to gain by keeping the Internet a neutral stage. The time to speak up is now.

Headlines for 27 June 2006

Trends
Newsmaker: An Internet for the few or the many?
CNET News
Running the little guy off the information highway
San Francisco Chronicle
As Online Ads Grow, Eyeballs Are Valuable Again on the Web
The New York Times*
Press run ends for Knight Ridder
The Seattle Times
Yahoo! Publisher Network Allows Contextual Relevant Images Near Ads Only
Search Engine Roundtable
Suit 2.0: Online Media Attracts the Strivers
New York Magazine
Online Video Hits A Milestone: NY Times Starts Weblog on the Scene
CBS News Public Eye
With NBC Pact, YouTube Site Tries to Build a Lasting Business
WSJ Online*
Wireless firms agree on rules for mobile Web sites
Reuters

Best Practices
How to Make Your Web Site More Conversational
Editor & Publisher
RSS: The new intranet protocol?
ZDNet

Cool Tools
TrekStor's 8GB CS-D USB micro-drive
Engadget

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Mainstream Data Wins Reuters Health Information Delivery Contract
BusinessWire via FinanzNach.de
Traffic.com Selected by GPS Leader Garmin International for Mobile Real-Time Traffic Data
BusinessWire via Finanzen.net
Reuters and Pitch(TM) Partner with Third Screen Media to Expand Mobile Delivery via MADX|Publisher
BusinessWire
Newstex Gains Corporate Earnings Call Transcripts from Seeking Alpha; Wall Street Horizon new partner
BusinessWire

Products, Markets & People
LexisNexis Total Practice Advantage Combines Legal Research, Practice Management, Client Development
BusinessWire
LexisNexis to Integrate FactSet Research Content
Information Today
Stark Leaves Gartner For VP/EP, CNBC.com
paidContent.org

Monday, June 26, 2006

Headlines for 26 June 2006

Trends
Waiting for the Dough on the Web
The New York Times*
Murdoch on Google's Arrogance, Future of Mass Media
I Want Media Interviews
Microsoft Should Buy Yahoo, Says Merrill Lynch
Forbes
PLoS, Losing Money, Hikes Author Fees
Cork University Press
Bloggers Find Financial Backers For Their Independent News Sites
WSJ Online*
The Next Big Step: Announcing Our Funding, from Patricof's Greycroft Partners
paidContent.org
Corporate America wakes up to Web 2.0
CNET News
Russian Mobile Content Market Shows 53% Y-O-Y
TMCNet
Google Blamed For Indexing Student Test Scores & Social Security Numbers
Search Engine Watch
VNU to expand digital offering with content studio
Media Bulletin
Google-backed FON begins global wireless Internet community push
AFP via Yahoo! News
What if They Built an Urban Wireless Network and Hardly Anyone Used It?
The New York Times*
Survey finds most b-to-b marketers lack confidence in customer data
BtoB Online

Best Practices
In Terms of Web Usability, the Eyes Have It
Publish
Content, Contact, Community - A Simple, Universal Business Strategy
Duct Tape Marketing (FMP)
Deployment of Corporate Weblogs Will Double in 2006
BusinessWire via TMCNet

Cool Tools
Jookster: Mashes up web archiving, social networking and ranked searching
The Social Software Weblog

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

McClatchy to Sell Wilkes-Barre Times Leader to Group Led by Richard Connor and HM Capital
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
The Wall Street Journal Office Network Launches Today in Partnership with Office Media Network
PrimeZone

Products, Markets & People
Reed Business Information Manufacturing.net: A New Real-Time News Service for Manufacturing Industry
BusinessWire
LexisNexis Launches Advanced Government Solutions to Enable More Effective Government Decisions
BusinessWire
LexisNexis Introduces Intelligence Analysis Solutions; Intelligence Analysis Supports Global War on Terror
BusinessWire
Enhanced SpringerLink Offers eBook Collection
Information Today
Standard & Poor's Capital IQ Further Enhances Its Information Platform
Investors.com
CMP Technology Launches EE Times Europe Online
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
News Service is First to Provide News Exclusively from Small Town America
24-7 Press Release
blinkx.tv Extends Online Video Index with Public Information Films from the UK National Archives
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Amdocs' Qpass Launches OpenMarket Exchange, a Catalyst for the Digital Content Marketplace
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

News Analysis - The 100x Factor: A New Generation of Microprocessors Challenges Content Providers

After chugging along with decades worth of PCs that never seem to get appreciably faster in relation to our content needs, hope is on the way. IBM's new experimental computer chips promise a 100x improvement in processor performance, with its availability to everyday users likely in years rather than decades. For those who had hoped for an evolutionary progression of publishing into the electronic realm, forgive me for being the bearer of bad news - the revolution will be at your fingertips even sooner than expected.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headline Summary for the Week of 19 June 2006

Want to catch up on last week's headlines? Try our weekly categorized summary with embedded commentary on the latest trends.

Click here to view last week's headlines in review

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Headlines for 22 June 2006

Trends
Too many chefs in Microsoft's kitchen?
CNET News
US FCC to kick off review of media ownership rules
Reuters
Brussels to cut levies on content copying
FT.com*
CareerBuilder to Sell Stake, and Suitors Aren't Shy
The New York Times*
Breaking Down the Facebook-Interpublic Ad-Equity Deal
paidContent.org
Google Talk: Nothing New to See Here, Move Along
eWeek
U.S. Broadband Composition Reaches 72 Percent at Home, a 15 Point Year-Over-Year Increase: Nielsen
PR Newswire
The Incredible Hulk Versus Google
Forbes
New ABM study shows how buyers use business media
BtoB Online
An Advisor Who Works Behind the Scenes Aids Paper Heirs
The New York Times*
Gannett Expects Positive Growth In Ad Revenue at USA Today
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
How Google AdSense Geotargeting Works
Search Engine Journal
Protecting your business by fighting plagiarism online
USC Annenberg OJR

Cool Tools
Microsoft Goes For Records
IDM Australia
MoQvo Advanced RSS Reader Enables User to Organize, Create and Share Digital Content
BusinessWire

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Adobe Says to Distribute Google Toolbar
Publish

Products, Markets & People
Google Launches Google Search Appliance and Google Mini in Australia and New Zealand
Geeekzone
Inxight Releases Categorizer 5.0, a Next-Generation, Hybrid Categorization Engine
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Ancestry.com boosts database with census
AP via Boston.com

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Microsoft Courts Creative Commons Crowd While Pushing Piracy Controls

An interesting juxtaposition in the headlines today: as Microsoft announces its launch of a tool to embed Creative Commons content licensing information in works created via Microsoft Office CNET news covers growing opposition to the way Microsoft is implementing its Windows Genuine Advantage software anti-piracy tools. So at the same time that Microsoft is trying to encourage more flexible and friendly licensing for users' intellectual property it is zeroing in on much tighter licensing restrictions on its own intellectual property. There's nothing wrong with trying to do both, I suppose, but for the most part commercial companies setting up alliances with Creative Commons seem to be using it as window dressing to build up points with user-generated media folks while focusing mostly on mainstream publishers' property for business deals to drive profits.

The gap between token support for user-publishers and more serious commercial encouragement may close somewhat as Windows Vista rolls out, widening the use of rights management capabilities that offer content licensors enforcement options. Could it be that Microsoft becomes a major facilitator of greater profits for user-publishers via a combination of Creative Commons and DRM? Wow, would be a bit of a stretch for BOTH camps. But as the propagator of the main platform users employ to be global publishers Microsoft has more to gain in the long run from the hundreds of millions of individual and enterprise publishers than from a relative handful of media companies trying to exploit those same user platforms. When you give users a clear "what's in it for me" proposition digital rights management tools will begin to make sense. Perhaps the Creative Commons deal is a small step towards a meaningful WIIFM proposition for Microsoft users. But one step must follow another. More to come...

Headlines for 21 June 2006

Trends
Fighting Microsoft's piracy check
CNET News
Royal Society tests new system of free access to papers
FT.com*
N.Y. Times, Dow Jones tout online pay models
MarketWatch*
PwC: Net to fuel industry
The Hollywood Reporter
Microsoft vague on departure of key Windows Live leader
The Seattle Times
Tomorrow's Tube?
Forbes
Tech Heavyweights Join Effort For Federal Privacy Law
TechWeb
Reuters Summit-Traditional media rules retail - for now
Reuters
Sorrell warns of e-communities 'threat'
FT.com*
Growth guru: Avoid Google
CNN Money.com
Times to Sell Ads on Front of Business Section
The New York Times*

Best Practices
My Article on Peer Review for Nature
Science Library Pad

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Global Sources' 10 Percent Equity Stake in HC Int'l Creates China's Largest B2B Media Partnership
PR Newswire
Microsoft and Creative Commons Release Tool for Copyright Licensing
PR Newswire
iCrossing(R) Closes $15 Million Series D Round
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
PCi Unveils Wiz Sentri(TM) at ABA Conference
BusinessWire1
Reuters develops analysis tools for Vietnamese market
Reuters via ThanhNien News
New LexisNexis Academic Service Prototype to be Unveiled at 2006 ALA Conference
BusinessWire
Regional financial news service launched
GulfNews.com
MedTech Publishing launches ‘Healthcare Finance News’
BtoB Online
Cisco Press Introduces eBooks; Electronic Versions of Print Titles Now Available for Download
BusinessWire

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Netscape Goes Newsy with Digg-Like Voting and Editorial Control

As pointed out by CNET and others the new Netscape Beta is a combination of Digg-like content voting and commentary with a layer of editor-picked selections from the voted pool of content to highlight key items and occasional "anchor" comments from Netscape editors. Unlike Digg, which has built an intensely involved community on a relatively narrow range of tech-oriented topics, the Netscape Beta covers more broadly popular topics such as health & fitness, real estate, autos, celebrities and so on. The initial impact of this effort on traffic has been minimal - even discouraging, judging by Alexa stats. If you look at stats overlayed for both Digg and Yahoo's del.icio.us you can see that the Netscape beta intro was fueled almost entirely by users curious about the Netscape service who were already involved in social bookmarking. Thus far the user recommendations are pretty slim beyond the typical focus of Digg-eratis - leaving it up in the air as to whether Netscape.com natives will take the bait.

If nothing else Jason Calacanis has assembled in the Netscape beta a very attractive media property that mixes the latest best practices for community building through social bookmarking with editorial input from "anchors" who are active participants in news gathering within the social bookmarking model. In a recent story on North Korea's missile deployments the Netscape anchor covering this topic chimed in with some useful information about how Wikipedia is covering the story as a current event and a promise to dig for further background information and coverage. This commitment to agnostic news gathering to complement user efforts is potentially a huge plus, emulating the activities of a host of user-generated portals that link to news stories and other sources within a rich and sophisticated community-building tool. But there is also the possibility that this will act as somewhat of a turn-off to users who will come to depend on anchors more than their fellow users for input on relevancy.

We'll see how this develops in the eyes of users, but at first pass I think that Jason has greased it on the design front and has offered a twist on editorial input that could prove to be very powerful if their efforts offer the right mix of quality input and sensitivity to their communities.

Thomson - AFX: Big Deal or Little Deal?

Last week's story from AP and other sources on Thomson's acquisition of European equities news agency AFX is downplayed by Thomson in an Information World Review weblog entry this week, which is perhaps appropriate given the scale of the scale of the deal. Rumored to be a USD 20 million takeover, AFX offers a relatively small impact on Thomson Financial's greater bottom line and evolutionary impact on its top line.

But the scope of AFX's position and influence offers Thomson some intriguing opportunities. While AFX content will be used primarily within the Thomson One desktop package to round out European news more to a par with Reuters and Bloomberg in European markets, AFX cuts a very global footprint that covers Asian markets very actively and an online media presence via syndication clients such as Forbes that give AFX a significant amount of Web exposure on international topics of interest to investors. Modest though this may seem it is perhaps the beginning of Thomson having a small toe in the waters of online news distribution that has been sorely lacking.

With CEO Dick Harrington working mightily to keep Thomson a growing company some diversification into strategies with Web components tied to non-enterprise revenue sources is overdue. In the meantime AFX offers Thomson Financial an important step towards a full-replacement product in European markets.

Google Finance: How to Overcome Incumbent Stickiness

The anemic progress of Google Finance has been gaining some attention lately, with a News Factor Network article highlighting the portal's lack of "stickiness". Many users who have been using Yahoo! Finance or other online financial portals get locked in to these services via personalization features and stock lists that make them daily "must see" visits for individual investors. Google finance has a portfolio tracker feature but there's not easy way to transfer one's holdings to the service and no alerts triggering features. This list could go on and on, but the point is clear: Google is very late to this game and is not likely to catch up any time soon, in spite of an array of very valuable features and sources on the service. As a whole, though, the more important deficiency is the service's lack of focus on users' real needs the service fails to answer the question: what does an individual need to do in order to be successful with their finances?

While the answer to this question may not come from Google any time soon, its existing capabilities could be fed into other applications and portals that can come up with those answers via mashups and other Web services-oriented integrations. Google seems still at this time to be an "anti-portal" of sorts, moving slowly and deliberately to develop breakthrough features that could power solutions in any number of contexts. The unique features and first-rate sources used in Google Finance could be used to power any number of portal solutions in both media and enterprise environments. This may not bring them to parity with Yahoo any time soon in terms of absolute audience for their portal solutions, but it's a more likely strategy in the short and medium term to allow Google's solution to work its way into workflows that are useful to their audiences. In the meantime it would be nice if the considerable talent at Google would focus itself as much on the "what I need to do" aspects of usability in its online offerings as much as it does on developing powerful features that may leave a significant portion of their needs unaddressed.

Headlines for 20 June 2004

Trends
NYTCO: About.com Will Add To Earnings Ahead Of Schedule
paidContent.org
How Google's Feiken Sees Online Video
iMedia Connection
British publisher Pearson feels pressure to boost profit
WSJ via Contra Costa Times
Old media fumbling with new technology
The Sydney Morning Herald
Tribune sees Web key revenue contributor by 2010
Reuters
The coming Web video shakeout
Business 2.0 via CNN Money
Tribune Says Stock-Buyback Plan Is on Track Despite Opposition
WSJ Online
In China It's ******* vs. Netizens
The New York Times

Best Practices
What Is A Blog? Video Remixes Say Lots More Than Words
Robin Good
Mike Rhodin, IBM GM of Lotus, on Mashups
Ross Mayfield
Selling eBooks and Software with Resell or Master Resell Rights
Promotion World

Cool Tools

Researchers Say New IBM Chip Breaks Speed Record - 350-500 Gighertz Performance
The New York Times*
Review: Flock Browser
Publish
SRC Geographic Business Intelligence at Web Speed to the Enterprise via Mashups and Dashups
Directions Magazine

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

ebrary Adds New Publishers
Information Today, Inc.
Endeca and Silver Creek Systems Partner for Master Data Access and Analysis Solutions for Enterprises
BusinessWire
Yahoo Partners With X1 on Search Tool
CIO Magazine

Products, Markets & People
Relegence Tailors Mail Monitoring for Financial Services
Wall Street & Technology
Jambo Pay-Per-Call Collect(TM) SolutionUsed for Bid4Spots' Online Reverse Airtime Remnant Auction
BusinessWire
Reed Technology Milestone; LexisNexis Company has Published Half of All Granted U.S. Patents
BusinessWire
Factiva Enhanced with Search 2.0
EContent Magazine

Friday, June 16, 2006

News Analysis - Riches for All Seasons: Rich Data Pumps Up Publishing Profits and Soaring Multiples

American Business Media has been pushing its "rich data" concept to B2B media companies for some time, now, but only a handful of business publishers have undertaken new initiatives to develop new online data assets to service their audiences beyond traditional editorial products. Yet M&A data indicates that the payoff to publishers that develop these assets is enormous. A recent ABM seminar showcased the "hows" of successful rich data initiatives. In a nutshell, the secret is this: listen to your audiences and find out what you can offer them that will change their work lives and their relationships with customers and suppliers - year in and year out.

Click here to read the full News Analysis.

Mashups Go Enterprise: Are B2B Publishers and Aggregators Ready?

TechWeb notes a demo by IBM of enterprise-oriented mashups at a recent conference using Web services via collaboration software that are able to feed in content from both an enterprise's own content and Web sources. The claim is that these quickly developed apps can appear on desktops in as little as five minutes (Joe McKendrick at ZDNet thinks that's too slow). It's not clear when IBM will get around to making these tools "prime time" but their press release covering the demo makes it clear that enterprises have greatly increased interest in user-driven collaborative tools to drive the aggregation of content within and beyond enterprises. As highlighted in our paper on The New Aggregation, with users empowered with powerful publishing technologies increasingly the aggregation of content from publishers falls into their hands.

Now that Web services technology are in wide use within enterprises and on the Web publishers and aggregators need to think much more seriously about enabling users within enterprises to use their content in user-defined collaborative services such as mashups. Strategies based purely on I.T.-deployed portal platforms will certainly still yield strong results for many publishers, but the time is upon us when enterprise users will be demanding content within highly functional packaging that they can deploy in any number of unique configurations for themselves and colleagues. There's a lot more than weather maps that should be flowing through these applications. It is certainly early days for this type of delivery for professionally produced content, but with the accelerated pace at which these technologies are being deployed in enterprises the time to investigate effective positioning of B2B publications and content services within user-deployed Web services.

Headlines for 16 June 2006

Trends
Gates stepping down from full-time Microsoft role
CNET News
Google Relaunches US Government Search, Now With Personalized Home Page
Search Engine Watch
Google's Schmidt at Conde Nast Lunch
ClickZ News Blog
Ad revenues climb in May for New York Times Co.
BtoB Online
JWT Puts a 'Roadblock' on Huffington Post
The New York Times*
Adobe Announces Resignation of President, Decline in Quarterly Profit
Publish

Best Practices
Using blogs to make newspaper reporters more relevant
USC Annenberg OJR

Cool Tools
Integrate Google Search Results On Your Web Pages: Google AJAX Search API (Beta)
Robin Good
IBM's Enterprise Mashup Uses Web Services For New Apps
TechWeb via Yahoo! News

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

ProQuest Updates Nursing Database; Partners With CSA
EContent Magazine

Products, Markets & People
Reuters Taps Business Unit Head To Be Chief Operating Officer
WSJ Online*

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Headlines for 14 June 2006

Trends
Hiding in Plain Sight, Google's Seeks More Power
The New York Times*
Battle lines drawn over cyberspace as Senate hears arguments over Internet control
Seattle Post- Intelligencer
TNS Ups Internet Ad Spend Forecast
ClickZ News
Magazine revenue essentially flat in May; ad pages fall
BtoB Online
The Fall Of Content's Kingdom
paidContent.org
Social networks poised to shape Net's future
CNET News
Can we all just learn to interact?
USC Annenberg OJR
NY Times Columnist Addresses "New Media Order" at SLA
Information Today, Inc.
Om Malik: It's Time to Transition
GigaOM
MS Blogger Robert Scoble: The Exit Interview
Publish
VNU CEO, Board Members Replaced
AP via Yahoo! Finance
Ebay to test Skype on U.S. site starting Monday
MarketWatch*
blinkx.tv Reaches 4,000,000 Hours of Searchable Video, Now the Web's Largest Video Search Engine
PR Newswire
Google sales chief says still testing display ads
Reuters
News Corp. to auction MySpace search
MarketWatch*
A Clash of Newspaper Legacies
The New York Times*
Webby Award Winners Keep it Pithy at New York Bash
Editor & Publisher

Best Practices
What's up with Factiva: A librarian addresses folders
UCalgary Library

Cool Tools
Blogging benefits from FAST search
Computer Business Review

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

JotSpot Wiki Powers eBay Community Wiki
PR Newswire
Xerox to Acquire Amici LLC; Expands Document Management Tools for Growing E-discovery Market
BusinessWire
PR Newswire Partners With OMX to Deliver Global Disclosure & News Distribution Solutions
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
ProQuest Launches New Service Allowing Libraries To Print Newspaper Copies
Managing Information

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A la Carte Database Records: LexisNexis Exposes Premium Corporate Affiliation Data via ECNext Ecommerce

Positioning premium business information in an increasingly fragmented field of channels and audiences can be a problem these days. As Shore's research shows there is high demand for content at the moment of greatest need, a factor that tightens up the sales loop and increasingly puts the emphasis on self-service sales of subscriptions and individual reports and records from business information databases. Up until recently LexisNexis has extended only a pinkie toe into the waters of single-unit business information sales with its AlaCarte online portal, vending mostly low-priced items such as archived news from licensed media sources. But now in partnership with content ecommerce enabler ECNext LexisNexis has announced a far more aggressive offering: corporate affiliations reports data.

Corporate Affiliations.com offers content from the core LexisNexis database that provides global coverage for about 200,000 prominent public and private parent companies and their subsidiaries, divisions, joint ventures and affiliates. Corporate affiliations data is a key element for analyzing corporate finances, legal relationships, strategic sales and competitive positioning, especially tricky with multinational companies for which overseas relationships in key developing markets may not be readily evident looking at public filings in markets such as the U.S. Pricing is based on the number of company entities returned in a given report: simple companies with few affiliations can go for as little as USD 9.99, up to the most complex companies with many relationships that will set you back USD 310.99 a report - or get a monthly subscription for USD 300.

Well-maintained corporate affiliations data is definitely a key premium content service, with fairly specific audiences within both large and small businesses and professional practices. A service such as Corporate Affiliations.com offers an excellent positioning of premium content for these audiences, offering well-scaled pricing and a well-designed ecommerce experience that makes it easy for this valuable content to be put to use quickly for those willing to expense it to the top line via a one-off sale or to the bottom line via a subscription. ECNext has already proven out its ability to field one-off sales of premium business information as a standalone service by its remarkably successful Manta portal which sells business profiles from Dun & Bradstreet and other high-ticket sources: it's a logical third party for LexisNexis to turn to for support in this project.

Ground-breaking services such as The Alacra Store have demonstrated the viability of one-off business information sales for some time now, but LexisNexis and ECNext are demonstrating that a la carte sales can be adapted effectively to very sophisticated premium databases without relying on outside aggregators for a sales venue. With the Web becoming the dominant "go to" source for users in corporate settings seeking outside business information selling premium business content online in the "right-sized" packages that fit a user's immediate needs is a "must have" strategy for business information database providers.

Online sales allow database publishers to develop both incremental revenue streams and deeper customer relationships for a wide variety of content sources at the user level. This is a crucial factor for database publishers involved in increasingly complex enterprise-level sales, demanding lengthy negotiations involving both corporate librarians and I.T. specialists to provide sophisticated integration and services. Online sales allow users eager for a "need it now" solution to be satisfied as efficiently as possible so their sales forces can stay focused on big-ticket sales - and to get sales leads for upgrades along the way.

Hats off to LexisNexis for an aggressive positioning of sophisticated business information that fills an important gap in the growing array of premium business content kiosks. Now if only they could do the same for enterprise-ready Web services...

Meme-orandum: Google is a Content Company, not a Media Company

I saw the link for the LA Times interview of Google CEO Eric Schmidt come up yesterday in my headline searches in which he says that Google is a technology company and not a media company, but that registration panel gave me that split second to say to myself, "Ahh, I've heard it all before." Based on a flurry of posts from Rafat Ali, John Battelle and others I reviewed the story and the weblogs...and I HAD heard it all before. All Schmidt is pointing out - and rightly so - is that a company like Google, unlike traditional media companies, focuses on contextualizing intellectual property created and/or owned by other sources. Media companies, on the other hand, focus on owning and monetizing their own intellectual property, usually copyrighted. That's a pretty simple division of focus. What Google IS, however, is a content company - a company that provides information and experiences created by individuals, institutions and technology to benefit audiences in contexts that they value. The information and the experiences happen to focus largely on others' intellectual property, but it's the same net effect: Google just decided to focus on monetizing the value of contexts, not intellectual property ownership.

The net effect of this concept is that media companies struggle in their efforts to become content companies. We can see how this plays out by looking at a 1-year trend from Alexa stats for a few major news outlets: The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Reuters. Great media properties all and many of them have benefited from improved strategies. But at the end of the day, they're all sagging: there's only so much great intellectual property of your own that you can crank out on a given day, versus an infinite sea of content in public, private and enterprise settings to be contextualized. We also see it in the struggle of B2B publishers to add "rich data" to their core editorial content: most of them are content to be media companies with some additional digital content assets in their portfolio, with little thought given to changing core missions.

I don't believe that media's days are numbered - there's always a market for well-designed intellectual property - but I do believe that we're seeing clear indications that the media as a whole are outnumbered - and out-technologized - by content producers of all sizes and shapes who take a very different view of intellectual property. Increasingly this includes mainstream content producers looking for improved channel strategies. As Jim Cramer points out at TheStreet.com there's nothing to say that come some fall the NFL could decide to bypass television networks altogether and pump its own sports programming and ads onto the Web for direct consumption.

So is Google a media company? For their own sake, I hope not. Good choice, Eric...

Headlines for 13 June 2006

Trends
Google's GBuy Set to Take On eBay's PayPal
VNUNet
Neutrality to Change in Stevens Bill
Multichannel News
Om Malik To Leave B2.0; Expanding Blog; Gets Funding
paidContent.org
Schmidt: Google Still A Tech Company Despite The Billboards
Search Engine Watch
How Google Is Killing the Internet
The Motley Fool*
E-newspapers just around the corner. Really.
Reuters
Ken Thomson dies, passing of torch was well planned
The Globe and Mail
Cramer: Old Media Can't Make Headway on Web
TheStreet.com
eBay Makes Bid to Attract Affiliates With Auction Ads
Ecommerce Guide
Craigslist suffers third outage in a week
CNET News
As DVD Sales Slow, Hollywood Hunts for a New Cash Cow
The New York Times*

Best Practices
Intranet 2.0: Collaboration, Self-Publishing And Tools Mash-up New Driving Forces
Robin Good
Google Co-Op Topics - Annotating Web Content
Web Pro News

Cool Tools
SRC Announces Free Dashups to Mashups Adding Geographic Business Intelligence to the Enterprise
PR Newswire
Google Earth 4.0 zooms in
CNET News
Jux2 goes beyond Google for a new web window
FT.com*

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Kazeon feeds Google Box
Computer Business Review
Comtex and Knobias in Joint Marketing Agreement for Delivery of Real-Time News and Market Research
BusinessWire via ZWire
Breitbart.com Offers Free Stock Market Content Module for Blogs and Websites
MarketWire

Products, Markets & People
Baynote Launches Search and Navigation Technology to Improve Marketing and Sales Conversion Rates
MarketWire
LexisNexis Launches Corporate Affiliations Site; Flexible Pay-As-You-Go or Subscription Pricing
BusinessWire