Monday, July 31, 2006

News Analysis - News Hounds: The Scent of News Has Gone Elsewhere While Publishers Play Catch-Up

A flurry of "innovations" are making their way into major newspapers lately: links to competitive sources, weblogs and user comments are a few of the developments trying to stir things up. Yet why is it that these new features seem so...old? As new data from Pew Research shows news audiences old and young are no strangers to other sources of news online and are migrating to them at the expense of traditional news outlets. News organizations have to retrain their noses and get pack to picking up the real scent of news that their audiences seek.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headlines for 31 July 2006

Trends
Newspapers to Use Links to Rivals on Web Sites
The New York Times*
More On Google News' Deal With AP
paidContent.org
Are You on Craig's List?
Fast Company
Google Brand Name Value on the Move
New York Post
Chat rooms could face expulsion from schools and libraries in U.S.
CNET News
VNU shareholders approve to change to private company status
BtoB Online
Print Not Dead Yet: Shift to Getting News Online Has Slowed
Editor & Publisher
Bloggers put the boot into big business
The Sunday Times
Pearson 2006 Interim Results: Sales up 8%; adjusted operating profit up 57%
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
The do-it-yourself Web emerges
CNET News
EC launches consultation on online content market
Telecom Paper
AOL to test-launch video search service
Reuters via Yahoo! News
Enterprise search market poised for further growth
VNUNet

Best Practices
SEO and URL Structure
ClickZ Network

Cool Tools
New Download Kiosks at the Airport
Esato
Yellow Machine Introduces the Ultimate Home Media Server
BusinessWire
Now for news, just strap this watch
The Economic Times

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Burson-Marsteller Partners with The NewsMarket to Provide Turn-Key Digital Video Content Delivery
CNW Group
Elsevier and the Institution of Chemical Engineers Announce
Publishing Alliance

MarketWire
TechTarget vets investment bankers to underwrite IPO
BtoB Online

Products, Markets & People
Inform Announces New Publisher Services and Initial Customers
Information Today
Thomson Financial Launches Thomson Guidance Solution
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Thomson Financial establishes presence in the Middle East
AME Info
Former ESPN Officer to Join Reuters
WSJ Online*

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Headline Summary for the Week of 24 July 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

Friday, July 28, 2006

Headlines for 28 July 2006

Trends
In Microsoft Plan for Future, All Roads Lead to Internet
The New York Times*
Google reaches click-fraud settlement
VNUnet
Microsoft Opposes Net Neutrality Plan On Its Proxy
Reuters via Information Week
EC rejects mobile broadcasting fears
ZDNet UK
Lexis reports slight revenue hike
Dayton Business Journal
A New Model For Getting Rich Online
Washington Post
Online editors see biggest pay increases
CyberJournalist
McGraw-Hill’s b-to-b revenue up 2.1% in second quarter
BtoB Online

Best Practices
The security risk in Web 2.0
CNET News

Cool Tools
Visual Similarity Search Engine Finds Images According To Your Specs
Robin Good
OnPoint Mobile Software offers mobile access to digital marketing content.
ThomasNet

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Time Warner Telecom to Acquire Xspedius Communications for $531.5 Million
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
Ana Marie Cox Joins Time.com
WSJ Online*
FM Lunches Parenting Federation, Site
FM Publishing

Long Tail Doubters: Is it Really All about the Hits?

While Chris Anderson's book on The Long Tail is streaking to the top of Amazon book sales - today number twelve on overall sales and number two in business books - detractors and scrutinizers are mounting. Lee Gomes argues in the Wall Street Journal argues that a closer scrutiny of data from online content vendors and stats gatherers such as Bloglines reveals that it's still very much a "hits" economy, with a thin slice of content accounting for the lion's share of profits (I believe that his Bloglines analysis is faulty: measuring which weblogs have feeds fails to account for readers who visit a weblog and do not take feeds). Tim Wu on Slate doubts the concept's extendibility into arenas beyond content and argues that standardization into "hits" is more important in other industries such as information technology where it's allowed mass access to content.

Interesting points, but perhaps the most comely retort comes from AlacraBlog, which has generated its own analysis of its sales of business information reports and presented it in graphical form. The chart is actually a more extreme plot than Anderson's examples: the top 1000 companies which business information searchers retrieved only account for 17% of the company snapshot page views, with the tens of thousands of other companies covered in Alacra's content sets accounting for the bulk of accesses. Like many business information providers Alacra's business model is not built around "hits" but around helping professionals find the needle in the haystack that's going to make a difference to them in very contextual situations.

But of course these users needed the organization of content provided by Alacra or other services to find these gems. Michael Andrews on Modules and Wholes notes that to navigate through and evaluate the long tail, people must rely on logical organization or social organization (the opinion and behavior of others). In other words, tools such as search engines, weblogs, text mining and social bookmarking have been able to highlight content based on the interests of much more focused communities - and the more focused the service providing servicing those interests, the better. This is why the content companies in business sectors succeed when they take the most agnostic attitude possible towards high-end content services: the curve of popularity matters far less than the curve of content that produces value for an organization.

Lee Gomes' analysis has merit, but only insofar as it focuses on marketing chains that are geared towards hits in the first place. It's a self-predicting model, one which is skewing ever more heavily towards a micro-slice of content that makes mega-profits. In short, organizations focused on making hits will continue to focus on making hits for ever-shallower demographics, whereas organizations focused on letting hits make their own popularity based on the interests of a community will create new types of popular content whose monetization potential is barely touched. In sum the Long Tail will prosper wherever people focus on immediate interests and needs that are largely self-marketing through the tools and communities enabled by today's content services.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Paid Networks: Calacanis' Move to Pay Social Bookmarkers Draws Fire

When Jason Calacanis posted last week an offer to pay top social bookmarkers at Digg and other services USD 1,000 to come do the same for Netscape's redesigned bookmark-driven portal it ignited a firestorm of comments from webloggers and the leaders of the soon-to-be-poached portals. A recent post by head Digger Kevin Rose sums up the anti-Netscape side of the argument nicely: "Think of what your loyal Netscape users must think - you're essentially telling them that they aren't good enough and that you have to buy better users." Calacanis retorts: "You're making money from advertising and you can easily afford to pay the top 12 users $1,000 a month each--share the wealth dude! Why not carve out 10-20% of your revenue for users?"

And that's the high-brow end of the conversation...

Beneath all of this posturing both of these camps make strong points.

Jason is right that there's no harm in rewarding users on many levels for their participation in a community. It's worked for many years at About.com where paid docents assemble both content and links to key pages on the Web to turn their avocations or vocations into cash. Newsvine has a recognition system for user-posters that could be easily turned into a rewards model and Gather already rewards content contributors with gift certificate points. Different ways to build content and community, but each successful in their own right through recognizing the value of contributors in concrete ways. Building multi-tiered rewards systems are a key to successful user-driven content aggregation and distribution.

With a media-trained audience to educate on new ways of relating to content, Netscape faces an uphill battle in getting these users to adapt social bookmarking ways. Bookmarking "Navigators" will help Netscape to prime the process and to provide professionalism that these users still expect for guidance. The challenge that Calacanis faces is clear when one looks at the heatmap of topic interest on Netscape: celebrities, gossip, security and sex lead the list. It's a mainstream crowd, as is also reflected in the very typical stories culled from mainstream news organizations that adorn the "user selected" front page items.

By contrast Digg's most popular selections for the day from a community more than twice the size of Netscape's are awash in quirky content from all sorts of sources, including today's top choice - a bootlegged video from The History Channel showing how an Israeli pilot landed an F-15 fighter with only one wing left on the plane (Diet Coke and Mentos, where are you when we need you?). Somewhat of a contrast to Netscape's top story: "Al Quaeda Calls for Holy War Against Israel, " with accompanying Netscape Anchor commentary. There is an organic genuineness to the Digg selections, which , though frustrating for someone really trying to figure out what's going on in the world, reflect the true nature of like-minded content seekers who are very open-minded about what's interesting on the Web. It's not likely that Netscape is going to make significant inroads to that community's interactions just by poaching a few taggers: the goals of the two communities are so very different that they're not likely to have much overlap at this point.

But at the end of the day growth will tell the tale. In spite of - or perhaps because of - all of the negative press Netscape has been on a gentle uptick in popularity these past few weeks according to Alexa stats. By contrast, while Digg is hardly dying it seems to have reached the overall limits of its community's growth for now. As noted in our recent News Analysis Content Nation is built up of a wide variety of communities, with users who want to influence others a huge nation unto themselves. But there's a much broader nation who are still content to soak in the sights on a passive basis. It's not clear that the Netscape audience will be converted easily to more interactive online ways, but the potential growth factor for converting mass media audiences into participants in a mature and multi-layered community is significant.

In the meantime, the chaos of Digg has been barely harvested and is in danger of being squandered for lack of a more sophisticated management of its content strategy. True communities require both participation and leadership, leadership which recognizes that economic viability that's equitable to all will be a key factor in allowing a community to thrive in the long run. Netscape may yet stumble under the tutelage of mass media mavens who cannot adjust easily to the type of content that user-driven communities seek out, but with a predisposition to helping people make money as a reasonable goal it may have more options to consider without hitting the hypocrisy button in the eyes of its audience.

Headlines for 27 July 2006

Trends
Time Warner May Approve Free-AOL Plan, Person Says
Bloomberg News
Google rides the radio waves with ads
CNET News
Reed Elsevier boosts profit
Reuters
Thomson Reports Strong Second-Quarter 2006 Results
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Google Shares Click-Fraud Data
Red Herring
Monster may seek more newspaper partners
Reuters
Ahead of the Bell: Amazon.com
MSN Money
Doomed Page Views
Online Spin
A Brighter Future for Incisive Media
Finance Visor
Content Industries And Sharman Networks Settle All Global Litigation
CNW Group via Yahoo! News
It May Be a Long Time Before the Long Tail Is Wagging the Web
WSJ Online*
long tails need organization to happen
Modules and Wholes
Searching for Order in the Blogosphere
Washington Post
Microsoft to Offer Software for Health Care Industry
The New York Times*
China's bosses join battle of the blogs
Asia Times
The Phone Companies Still Don't Get It
BusinessWeek
Cellular Carriers Work To Outdo Google, Yahoo
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
When It Comes To Job Search; Entry Level Job Seekers - It's Time To Reconsider the Public Web
eMediaWire
Pay Attention To Your Embedded Links
Web Pro news

Cool Tools
Hands on with ARINC's iLiad-based eFlyBook
Engadget

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Yahoo! Investests in Korean eCommerce via Gmarket Inc. Investment
Submit Express
Regal Securities First to Deploy Online Trading Solution Offered By Nexa Technologies & QuoteMedia
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
Critical Mention Adds Audience Estimates and Media via Metrics Nielsen Media Research and SQAD Data
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Complinet Launches New PEP Intelligence Client Screening Service
PR Newswire
Dow Jones Newswires launches DJNmobile.com service
BtoB Online
Motorola Adds Enterprise Search Capabilities to its MOTOPRO(TM) Mobility Suite
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

From Ecommerce to Destination Content: ECNext's Manta Builds Up a Broader Base of Content

When ECNext introduced its Manta portal for business intelligence report sales last fall it enjoyed rapid growth that translated into both strong ad revenues and healthy sales of reports from Dun & Bradstreet, Datamonitor and other key sources. But how do you transition from an search engine placement service for in-and-out report sales into a service that can help users to linger and click a little more on the merchandise? The answer for ECNext: bring more destination business content into play. The announcement of Manta's addition of company profile information on pages that make company reports available for sale highlights the importance of having an ecommerce environment that is not segregated from a media environment.

Landing pages for companies covered by Manta now include by default basic information such as location, phone numbers, industry codes and lines of business and a thumbnail Google map. Those who go through a quick registration process get additional content such as year of incorporation, annual sales, number of employees and so on. In both registered and non-registered versions a scroll-down brings one to the reports available for sale through ECNext's ecommerce capabilities as well as to related company links.

The registration-enhanced version does a somewhat better job than the default version of leading one to the reports for sale, but having a default version that puts important information on the page that can act as in-line metadata for search engines should improve Manta's ability to appear relevant in search results to draw in more registrants. Both default and registered versions are significant enhancements for Manta that should drive both ad revenues and report sales. Manta is plying the ground between free yellow pages services and premium online business information services such as Hoover's which mix a media model with a subscription model for most of its content access.

By skipping the subscription component Manta suggests that it's possible to build a business information publishing strategy that can appeal to more situational users who generally need a much lower level of service for business information but who are willing to spring for specific content as circumstances dictate. That seems to fit the profile of many business information users today, so we expect Manta to have a good level of success with this strategy. While it may not yet add up to a business that will compete with a Hoover's-scale presence any time soon it's a good move to help ECNext keep potential rivals at bay as they develop a unique combination of business information services to appeal to a crowd that's looking at a broad array of businesses to fulfill a broad array of motivations.

More from the Core: Reuters Removes Life Support and Moves Forward in Finance and Media

The tide appears to be turning at Reuters as Tom Glocer's Core Plus strategy seems to be ready to start returning on major investments in the midst of markets that favor their strengths. Reuters reports a likely 5 to 6 percent revenue growth rate based on constant currency adjustments. The details (PDF) reveal that operating profit from continuing operations is up 16 percent overall, with restructuring charges from the absorption of Telerate mostly complete and major infrastructure investments beginning to pay off. Reuters electronic trading products are benefiting from the expansion of private trading channels amongst financial institutions, while demands for exchange data are increasing as automated trading services and high-end analytics services grow in sophistication.

Having pared down the cost of delivering commoditized content and having pushed up investments in unique transaction-driven content and analytics Reuters is in a good position to challenge Bloomberg for more market share. The Bloomberg team is wrestling with a transition into a marketplace that is favoring all-purpose desktop services and commoditized back office solutions less and less. Reuters' greatest enemy - investment firm entropy - seems to be fading into the background for the next few years as major institutions accelerate the shift to more profitable private trading and try to discover new ways to package their own intellectual property for financial markets.

But the brightest story is in the growth of Reuters' media sales, where revenues grew 14 percent in 1H06 and are up 47 percent from 1H05. At GBP 87 million the media division is still a relatively small contributor to overall profits but with a top 300 Web site and a successful syndication strategy Reuters news is managing both strong profits and strong brand development. Reuters media products provide a great example of a well-managed channel strategy that balances its surging direct revenues with opportunities to extend the brand through broader search engine exposure via well-placed outlets. Investments in data mining are likely to pay off in more news beats for financial markets, which will be needed given the more aggressive stance of Thomson Financial in this area, but with a larger audience that includes both consumers and professionals Reuters has a broader revenue base through which to leverage such news investments.

The sun is still breaking through the clouds of iffy financial markets and an uncertain global economy, but these very factors may help to increase reliance on the global services of Reuters in the short run before people worry about any new belt-tightening that may be on the horizon. Reuters is emerging as a company that must be respected for sticking to its guns and developing a successful strategy for moving into a new world of business and media content which favors those who can move with the conversations of the markets to their most profitable contexts. No pain, no gain, they say; hopefully the worst of pain is behind Reuters now.

Data Mining Makes News: UpTick Partners with Thomson Financial to Build News Based on Automated Analysis

The announcement that Thomson Financial has teamed up with UpTick Data Technologies to generate news stories using its data mining tools is on one level not terribly surprising. The use of text and data mining technologies in financial markets has accelerated in recent years, allowing investment firms to discover insights from raw inputs in small enough time frames to make real differences in their investment strategies. Time frames are crucial to news organizations as well, especially those that cater to the investment crowd, but beats on straight news stories for corporate events are not always easy to come by in an era of Fair Disclosure regulations. This is pushing financial news services to provide more analysis and insight into market trends.

The first target for the TF/UpTick alliance is mining Thomson's own data and analyst's earnings estimates from its First Call service to come up with automated comparisons of estimates to actual corporate earnings reports. Fairly humdrum stuff, but if it gives Thomson a beat it's not humdrum stuff at all - it's then valuable insights into expected market performance that will drive trading activity. With UpTick's extensive library of analysis tools expect the breadth and depth of automated analysis to come up with less obvious insights injected into news streams that can drive markets. Automation and offshoring has helped news organizations to focus their editorial talent on higher levels of market analysis. With tools such as UpTick the level of analysis provided by news wire services to the business sector is going to increase significantly. Hopefully analysts in ratings agencies and other financial publishing houses take note that there are other sources of insight that can develop rapidly thanks to content extraction technologies.

Headlines for 26 July 2006

Trends
TiVo Is Watching When You Don't Watch, and It Tattles
The New York Times*
Should Community-Edited News Sites Pay Top Editors?
MediaShift
Calacanis: have a beer and relax, it's just diggnation
Kevin Rose
"It's so not about social networking anymore": MySpace a launch pad for next-gen media biz
The Hollywood Reporter
Cracking the social network code
Marketwatch
Keeping the Web 2.0 Bubble Inflated
Publish
Online ad spending will reach $25.9 billion by 2011
BtoB Online
Google Ads on Network Monitor Application
Download Squad
Enterprise Unplugged: Google Search Appliance Mobile edition has hit the streets
Google Enterprise Blog
Reuters lifts annual revenue outlook
Reuters
Sides Line Up in Google-Perfect 10 Fight
Tech News World
Teen People to Fold Magazine, Maintain Web Presence
FOLIO: Magazine
HarperCollins Turns to Web, In a Search for More Romance
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
UK: Turn the Page - The Net Benefit of Digital Publishing. Is this the Last Chapter for Paper?
Mondaq
Information Density and Dr. Bronner
Coding Horror

Cool Tools
Watch TV Back Home And Call Any Phone Number Around The World With The New Sightspeed 5
Robin Good

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

LexisNexis(R) and EDGAR(R) Online Expand Alliance; for Full Access to SEC Filings with Easier Navigation
BusinessWire
Monster to replace CareerBuilder on Philly.com
Philly.com
Reuters to Distribute University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers on an Exclusive Basis
BusinessWire

Products, Markets & People
ECNext Adds Additional Free Company Information to Manta, It’s Premium Business Information Website
eMediaWire
Autonomy brings order online to 1,000 years of history
Business Weekly UK
RR Donnelley Logistics Launches OneSite(SM) Mailing Campaign Progress Tracking Tool
PR Newswire via KFVS

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Headlines for 25 July 2006

Trends
Judge Hears Challenges to Google's Settlement of 'Click Fraud' Suit
WSJ Online*
Google Launches Live Traffic Updates Through Google Maps For Mobile
Playfuls.com
Apple polishes plans for reader-friendly iPod
Variety
MySpace shut down by US heatwave
BBC News
SIIA Illegal Auction Suits Have an Impact
PR Newswire
Marketers Grade Themselves 'Average' in Their Ability to Effectively Target Content Online
PR Web
AOL Founder Says He is 'Sorry' for Time Warner Merger
Reuters via Publish
Sources: Announcement Soon On VNU Restructuring
FOLIO: Magazine
Authors connect with their readers on Roadfood.com
USC Annenberg OJR
Amazon goes to the movies
CNET News

Best Practices
Research Foresees Increased Consumer Acceptance of Digital Rights Management and Conditional Access
BusinessWire

Cool Tools
Eloquent Systems Launches Web 2.0 Search Solutions for the Heritage Industry
XTVWorld

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

LexisNexis expands with acquisitions of Dataflight Software and Florida-based CaseSoft
Seattle PI
Thomson Financial and UpTick Data Technologies Collaborate to Produce Enhanced News Service
PR Newswire
CNET Enters Parenting Category via UrbanBaby buy, also Buys Chinese Auto Site, Launches Chow.com
paidContent.org
Eight Publishers Add Content to MetaPress
EContent Magazine
Canon Communications sells assets of 'Micro' to PennWell, shutters ‘CE’
BtoB Online

Products, Markets & People
Blog Search Engine Technorati Releases Major Upgrade And New Features
Robin Good
FAST Announces Center for Search Innovation; Hadley Reynolds to Serve as Center's Director
BusinessWire
Yahoo! Appoints Renowned Database Systems Expert Dr. Raghu Ramakrishnan as Research Fellow
BusinessWire

Monday, July 24, 2006

News Analysis - Content Nation: A World of Personal Publishers Declares Their Influential Citizenship

A recent poll by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that most of the people in the U.S. who are publishing weblogs are interested in a creative outlet for communicating with friends and family. But a significant percentage of survey respondents see influencing others as a prime motivator in publishing weblogs. If you scale up the survey data for weblog influence-seekers to its likely global proportions you wind up with the 65th largest nation in the world getting the attention of the third largest nation in the world. This Content Nation is shaping the world's communications far faster and deeper than even the most sanguine enthusiasts for personal publishing can imagine - and they've only just begun.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Wrappers for Rappers? Sony BMG Opts for Personalized MP3 Downloads as Microsoft Prepares Proprietary Zune Strategy

Rafat Ali gathers an impressive range of coverage on the recent unwrapping of Microsoft's plans for Zune, an integrated music service from Microsoft that will include downloads, an iPod-like device, a file-sharing service (of sorts - preview clips only for music) to promote social sharing of tunes and playlists and WiFi connectivity. Rafat frowns on the WiFi as a battery-draining feature that doesn't answer specific user needs, which may be a valid point, but my suspicion is that Microsoft will be using the WiFi connectivity to enable a broad array of network-enabled services, including access to music (and eventually videos) stored on home servers, in autos and in public spaces. A key issue with this initiative is that apparently it will have no compatibility with Microsoft's PlaysForSure program that ensures downloads will be compatible across participating music players, leaving competitive hardware players out in the cold. I guess someone decided that there's a lot more money in a proprietary Apple-like approach than in managing standards for other platforms.

By point of interesting contrast, Information World reports on a downloadable song that will be available for USD 1.99 from Sony BMG via Yahoo which will be available in MP3 format without DRM controls. The song will be a personalized version of a Jessica Simpson tune, in which the downloader's name is included in the song. Ian Rogers posts on the Yahoo! Music blog that Yahoo sees DRM as costly and that "DRM doesn't add any value for the artist, label (who are selling DRM-free music every day - the Compact Disc), or consumer, the only people it adds value to are the technology companies who are interested in locking consumers to a particular technology platform." Sony's timid step in support of this concept (who's going to want to copy a song that's been personalized with someone else's name?) should not be taken as an enthusiastic endorsement of this position, only a temporary experiment.

The obvious middle ground that's not being discussed in all of this is any concept of a DRM solution that would work in the best interests of artists and consumers alike. I won't rant on long about Weed or open-source DRM standards as I've hit on those already pretty hard through the years and few major music producers have moved seriously towards them. But in the face of publisher-friendly Yahoo's statements one would think that content producers would rethink their plans and try to come up with ways to manage copyrighted materials that are not onerous and that allow users to have a broad choice of platforms from which to choose. Every time a song or book or other rights-protected piece of content is left behind on an obsolete proprietary platform is another opportunity lost for people to maintain and share their enthusiasm for a creative work. Nothing could be better for content publishers than to come up with a handful of compatible industry-wide approaches to sharing intellectual property that protect their creators and enable audiences to add value to their works over time. As it is we're going to be saddled with these format wars until the most creative content producers ally themselves with distribution systems that do a better job of turning their efforts into profits.

Headlines for 24 July 2006

Trends
Social News Is Dead
ClickZ News
In the Race With Google, It's Consistency vs. 'Wow'
The New York Times*
Microsoft's Zune: The Hurdles And Challenges
paidContent.org
Portland Business Journal Puts Live Content Behind Firewall for Print Subscibers
Portland Business Journ.
Yahoo, Sony BMG Offer DRM-Free Music
Information World
Pew Study Unmasks US Bloggers
Tech News World
Tiny search engines target niche market with "social" design
The Seattle Times
Findings on invalid clicks
Google Blog
YouWitness News
Forbes
The YouTube War
Time Magazine
YouTube dances the copyright tango
CNET News
InfoUSA numbers down, institutes hiring freeze
BtoB Online
A Sideline That Competes With a Byline
The New York Times*

Cool Tools
Will the next iPod be an eBook reader as well?
Pocket Lint

Products, Markets & People

Dow Jones Newswires Expands Wireless Solutions with Launch of 'DJNmobile.com' Service
BusinessWire
eBolt Group Launches Flagship Personal Finance Blog: "CashIntellect.com"
PR Web
FinancialContent Launches Initiative to Syndicate Business Podcasts to Media Outlets
MarketWire via MSN Money

Headline Summary for the Week of 17 July 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

Friday, July 21, 2006

Gawker Walks Away from Yahoo Deal: Mass Exposure Doesn't Mean Mass Audiences for Niche Content

Nick Denton posts a short and frank piece on Gawker Media's walking away from their Yahoo syndication deal, conveying that the lack of love had become mutual. Part of the issue may be friction from Valleywag's postings taking Yahoo Media's Lloyd Braun to task, according to Denton, but the bigger issue seems to be bottom line. Yahoo didn't seem to broaden the appeal of Gawker properties in their syndication deal and at the same time Google AdSense ads added to Gawker pages seemed to be doing very well, thank you very much. So it's back to focusing on exposing content in search engines and social media venues for the independent Gawkers. Weblogs can certainly manage to be both popular and profitable and sometimes even corporate, but they tend to thrive on their publishers being themselves and attracting audiences who can accept their perspectives with whatever grain of salt is necessary at the time. That tends to be problematic for major brand advertisers, who are concerned about reach more than the contextual quality of a particular audience.

As I noted last fall major media properties cutting deals with weblogs is in some ways like old-time movie studios trying to snatch up raw talent that can be shaped into mass appeal products - except that the talent has many more independent options these days to develop audiences on their own as free agents. Trying to think of webloggers as starlets down at the soda fountain waiting to be discovered by Hollywood was always a stretch to start with in a Web world of finely focused audiences, but when the talent won't bend to help support brand advertising that's supposed to be your margin play then it becomes more problematic yet. Score one for The Long Tail and for independent publishers who can suck off the cream of audience attention while mass media content producers huddle in a smaller puddle of attention that people are willing to give to their offerings.

Headlines for 21 July 2006

Trends
Google blasts past forecasts as its earnings double up
USA Today
Google R&D Pays Dividends
BusinessWeek
Profit Lags as Microsoft Spends to Meet Competitors
The New York Times*
Building the new Microsoft
CNET News
The Wrong Tail: How to turn a powerful idea into a dubious theory of everything
Slate
Newspaper Fortresses - Print Still Suffers
Charles Cox is The-Agent.net
Elsevier sponsors a more open-access article model
Information World Review
The Best Deal Market Ever?
FOLIO: Magazine
Parting company with Yahoo
Nick Denton
Indian government ban on websites draws concern
IFEX

Best Practices
A Peer-Driven Approach to KM
Line56

Cool Tools
Media Server helps users organize and share digital content
ThomasNet

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Conde Nast Acquires NutritionData.com
paidContent.org
GeneGo and Elsevier MDL Join to Provide Access to Compound DBs, Patents, Literature and Pathways
PR Newswire via Drug News WIre

Products, Markets & People
Discovery Communications Launches Enhanced 'Discovery News' Service With Daily Video Webcasts
PR Newswire

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Yah-ooch!: Yahoo Net Off 80 Percent, Keyword Ads and Product Spending Eyed

WSJ Online covers the disappointing earnings report posted by Yahoo, though the CNN Money story has more meaty analysis. While WSJ muses on potential seasonal factors, CNN Money dives in deeper into the real issues: a delayed launch of Yahoo's improved ad system to compete with Google's superior keyword service and questionable product investments. Yahoo has dumped a ton into its home page redesign and has invested heavily in a wide variety of online content products and services, many of which have yet to produce significant market advantages. It's perhaps a bit too early to get gloomy and doomy about the most popular Web site on the planet, but it's not beyond mentioning that Yahoo seems to be entering a new phase of product maturity - one which challenges them to come up with an effective growth formula. In short, Yahoo is becoming in some ways just another media company that's hard-pressed to hold down the production costs of content while struggling to turn its page inventory into ad sales.

In the meantime rival Google goes lean and mean with product design via its highly evolutionary and exploratory approach to development and relatively trivial investments in media deals and media production. Google's still-superior keyword ad network remains for the moment far more efficient at monetizing its page inventories in search results and other destinations, allowing Google to focus investments on well-scaled infrastructure tied closely to their core mission. Redesign the home page? Shucks, not much to do there. Google's investment profile is also improved by their implicit investments in R&D: with Google employees encouraged to spend a significant portion of their time just tinkering around with new ideas, Google is likely to be more on track with "100x" ideas to accelerate revenues.

Potential dangers lie ahead for Google as well, of course. It's total page views are well behind Yahoo, an indication that in spite of its dominant position in search it's still not very good in helping users to hang around and enjoy the scenery. But Google's points of inflection tend to be more mission-critical than Yahoo's: if you're on a Google page you have a pretty specific objective in mind, increasing the value of a context for advertisers. This also commends Google services to no-nonsense corporate environments more easily, where so many eyeballs wind up doing double duty for personal and business missions. With lots more traditional entertainment content and rather fluffy user-generated media (finance being a key exception), lots of people go to Yahoo but with perhaps a little less of a hard-core mission in mind.

Some of Yahoo's problems will work themselves out naturally in the next few months as improved ad services for search take hold and new services mature that draw away ever more users from AOL and other suffering portals. There's nothing wrong with being an enormously successful media company, but when your hopes for growth are hinging on creating more big and bad content than the other team it's a challenge to return as high margins in the long run as efforts that are glad to let other people create and own the inventory of content that's necessary to make a buck. Yahoo may yet be able to span both worlds successfully and to subsume at least part of Google's mission, but it may wind up staying a perennial number one in traffic and a number two in profits.

UPDATE: I wrote the above before news of Google's remarkably robust Q206 earnings, with a 77 percent growth in earnings and a doubling of earnings. So much for seasonal issues - when your revenues rely on the vast network of sites employing Google AdSense as well as your own page inventory to drive revenues. If Yahoo's ad network catches on later this year the top line may suffer a bit at Google, but it's likely that we'll continue to see the fundamental innovations at Google that add value to content regardless of its source to continue producing healthy margins for some time to come. IHT reminds us that Microsoft is taking a dive on earnings also as it fiddles with its Xbox video game console rollout and other costly product developments - even as they plan to buy back more stock. There are good opportunities for Google to make profitable inroads against both Yahoo and Google as they wrestle with less profitable approaches to content development.

Headlines for 19 July 2006

Trends
'Wall Street Journal' To Carry Front Page Ads
AP via Editor & Publisher
Yahoo Net Plummets Almost 80%; Ad-System Upgrade Is Delayed
WSJ Online
Four Leading Publishers Sue California Document Delivery Service For Copyright Infringement
BusinessWire
More On BBC Restructuring; New Future Media and Technology Division
paidContent.org
Connexions Takes Open Source Approach to Education Content
Linux Insider
What Is Wrong With Wikipedia?
Arab News
Sony BRAVIA to Offer Exclusive New Advertising Content to PSP®
PR.com
Bloggers' fury as India blocks sites
The Guardian
Where Old and New Media Collide
BusinessWeek
AOL launches corporate IM service
CNET News

Best Practices

Research: Mobile Content Delivery Platforms Are Becoming More Robust as the Business Matures

BusinessWire
The Human Side of Search: Taggregation
Influential Interactive Mktg.
CSS Support is Poor in RSS Feed Readers
Datamation
Co-branding Your Intellectual Property Will Help Attract Your Ideal Clients
Newswire Today
Google exec challenges Berners-Lee on Semantic Web
CNET News

Cool Tools
Near-Time Launches Online Collaboration Service
The Mac Observer

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

IndustryBrains announces deals with Briefing.com andOpenSystems Publishing
BtoB Online
Jobster reels in $18 million more in VC
The Seattle Times*
Goodman and Carr Deploys NewsGator's Enterprise RSS Solution
MarketWire
LivePerson Completes Acquisition of Proficient Systems
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
ProQuest Publishes the First Digital Archive of American Historical Annual Reports
PR Newswire
ZoomInfo ‘Tools and Developer Resources Center’ Provides Business People and Company Information
PR Web
BTSLogic SearchBeam Enables Real-Time Content for Yellow Pages
BusinessWire
HighBeam(TM) Research Redesigns, Renames Free Online Encyclopedia
BusinessWire

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Power of Corporate Content: Home Depot Moves to Sell Ads on its Own Web Site

Any number of media companies would sell body parts or family members to become a top 1,000 Web site; for others such a benefit comes more naturally. Comfortably nestled in at number 848 in the current Alexa rankings - even in the middle of a hot do-nothing summer - Home Depot has created a powerful online niche for selling goods and promoting its chain of home improvement stores. But with such a powerful market position, why not leverage the value of those page visits through more than online and in-store sales? Home Depot has taken the plunge and announced that it will take on advertisers for their site.

Online ads will certainly benefit Home Depot's online and in-store sales as well, much in the same way that Wal-Mart's private label shopper's magazine gains ad dollars from their vendors to promote in-store sales. Ads on retail Web sites are somewhat more direct, though, in effect an extension of in-store merchandising programs, providing product promotions right in the "aisles" for shoppers. But more importantly it recognizes the power of the Home Depot site as destination content that provides a common ground for advertisers not found easily elsewhere. It's another example of corporations recognizing the media power of their own content and leveraging it to provide the most powerful communications possible that suit their goals (see our earlier analysis of Boeing's aggressive online site).

While this is relatively bad news for home improvement publications, many of these that are surviving in today's niche-oriented market have gone upscale in their focus and may still benefit if they can provide niche content through sites such as Home Depot's. In other instances, as noted in our earlier news analysis on rich data, B2B-oriented media companies have found ways to repurpose nuts-and-bolts industry content into consumer-friendly services via portals such as Home Depot's. As corporations build relationships online with their markets and take their slice of audience share these types of marketing relationships will only increase. When we say at Shore that today's leading publishers are the individuals and institutions equipped with affordable publishing tools and a deep understanding of their audience's needs, we could now use Home Depot's site as one of the thumbnail graphics, I suppose.

Can't Help Myself: AFP Content Still Picked up by Google News Through Syndication Channels

Macworld covers along with other IDG publications a "secret" that's been very public for months: in spite of action by Agence France-Presse against Google to remove AFP news from the Google News service, AFP content shows up regularly in Google News results - from its channel partners, primarily, but in some instances from AFP's own site (sample query). While the vast majority of AFP content seems to come from other sites taking its feed, some casual testing would seem to point to no specific constraints on perusing AFP's site directly. Google is apparently under no legal action at this time that would restrain them from crawling this content, according to the Macworld article, but in the meantime it's hard to imagine that the search results being provided by Google News are not benefiting AFP's syndicated news clients - the main focus of AFP's concerns in its complaint against Google.

It's probably fair to chalk up most of Google's crawls of AFP's own site as flaws in its algorithms that need to be tuned, which leaves AFP' s syndicated product the proud beneficiary of free advertising via Google News. I suspect that this fact is not lost on AFP and that this may account for the relative silence from their side on this matter in recent months. Perhaps the IDG articles will force them to brandish the sabre for a bit, but for the most part news suppliers seem to have come to peace with search engines and have tuned their publicly available content to suit their marketing strategies accordingly. If AFP forbids their syndication partners from exposing their news in any great way to search engines it will doubtless reduce the appeal of their content to those clients. So score one for the power of search engines to enhance the value of syndicated content - for now.

Headlines for 18 July 2006

Trends
Despite suit, Google News still indexing AFP content
Macworld via Yahoo! News
The Home Depot To Offer Online Advertising
PR Newswire
Times to Reduce Page Size and Close a Plant in 2008
The New York Times*
L.A. News Service Sues YouTube Over Beating Video
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq.
Reuters Mobile To Move To Ad-Supported in U.S.; New Mobile Site: Audio Interview
MocoNews
Microsoft's private folders become a public headache
CNET via ZDNet
Fearing Content Cannibalization
EContent Magazine
The New York Times Company Reports June Revenues: Internet News up 22.7%, About.com 38%
BusinessWire
Would you pay money to read blogs?
Mobile Read
Factiva sets scorching pace in Web 2.0 stakes
Information World Review
ABM: Trade Show, Print Numbers Grow in 2005
FOLIO: Magazine
Online advertising up 13.8% in second quarter
BtoB Online
The Book Club Exploded
Library Journal
Hong Kong's Boy Scouts on copyright patrol
The New York Times via CNET

Best Practices
Search Engine Optimization and Semantics: Index Content Not Keywords
ISE DB
How Does Google Measure Uniqueness of a Page?
Search Engine Roundtable
Corporate Blog Owners Report Success, but Differences in Resources Devoted to Blogs
PR Newswire

Cool Tools
Record And Publish Your Video Announcements Online: Hellodeo
Robin Good
Podcasting Gets Easier with WildVoice(SM) 'Shout'; Make a quick and fun recording directly
BusinessWire

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

MediaPost.com Selects Accipiter for Complete Online Ad Delivery and Campaign Management Solution
BusinessWire
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services Gives Insurance Compliance Professionals Regulatory Information
PR Newswire
Cox Newspapers, Inc. to Generate New Revenue With Quigo's AdSonar
MarketWire

Products, Markets & People
New LexisNexis Tax Center Adds Exclusive Insight and Analysis; Introduction of Shepard's Citations
BusinessWire
Thomson Elite Launches Analytic Packs for Elite Business Intelligence
Managing Information
Carlyle hires former Time editor
Washington Business Journal

Monday, July 17, 2006

News Analysis - Consultative Sell: Factiva SalesWorks Hooks into Work Solutions via Channel Partners

Another day, another content integration product for enterprises that need subscription content in valuable work contexts. But as products such as Factiva's SalesWorks(TM) rely increasingly on technology-oriented channel partners to penetrate their markets the shift into consultative selling becomes more problematic. It's great to have your content in highly valuable contexts, but if your bread and butter is knowing your clients' needs then you need to tread carefully with tech-oriented channel partners who can wind up learning a lot more than you about your markets.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Gathering Maturity: Gather.com Redesign Focuses on Conversations that Drive Content

Tom Gerace, CEO of the Gather online publishing community, gave me an intro to their relaunched site recently. Gone is the cluttered and confusing array of controls and features from their front page, replaced by a vastly simpler and cleaner interface that highlights key conversations happening on Gather via its user-generated articles and comments. Instead of just highlighting an article, the Gather home page display highlights a snippet from the article and a key comment that takes up a contrasting position, all framed in Yahoo-esque graphics. This provides a long-needed focus for people visiting the Gather site and provides an anchor from which one can gaze at some of the featured tags, members and discussion groups available for perusing.

Gather is starting to accrue a broadening array of focused topic groups, many of which have been tweaked by their anchors into attractive sub-destinations. Many groups are anchored by users who kick things off with their own content, but the "Food Talk" topic group, anchored by Gather partner American Public Media, features a nice mix of content from both users and APM, with no real sense of "this is the 'real' media" dividing user contributions. This provides a much more conversational integration of professionally-produced media and invites comments and linking within the Gather community.

Gather has focused clearly on adults with kind of an artistic and literary orientation, steering towards people who like to express themselves through writing online and who enjoy building online networks of contacts with like interests that steer away from the more teen-oriented topics of sites like MySpace. While many of Gather's features and design are still a work in progress - the "My Gather" pages are a little sparse and it's still not easy to understand what's "hottest" at a glance - it's moving away from its first phase of development into a format that's likely to appeal to a broader audience. The main question for Gather, as with most community-driven publishing sites, is how to grow it beyond a particular set of like-minded people into a broader set of audiences. Gather has had strong page viewership but stagnating audience growth, as indicated by Alexa statistics - not unusual for this type of service.

Part of the answer would seem to be to extend the Gather metaphor to allow groups of users to define reference content and services that could provide answers in kind of a hybrid of Wikipedia and About.com - a string of expert-lead communities that build up more authoritative content over time that can attract higher search engine ranking to drive more incoming traffic. That's a stretch given Gather's current focus, but a next logical step. Social media is still in its very early days, with many experiments showing strength but also a lack of a mature model to drive both audience growth and focused interests of greatest value to advertisers. Gather is moving closer to that goal with its revamped site, but expect the experiments to continue at this and other social media sites.

Headlines for 17 July 2006

Trends
Yahoo Finance revises charts, chat, other features
Reuters
Google Patent Parade
Publish
"Let click fraud happen"? Uh, no.
Google Blog
Web Ads May Help Papers Face Woes
Editor & Publisher
BBC Presses for Financing, and Its Detractors Cry Foul
The New York Times*
Microsoft hands copyright control over to publishers
Information World Review

Best Practices
Making Several Stops at Shops Online, but Paying All at Google
The New York Times*
SEO and Affiliate Marketing
ClickZ Network

Cool Tools
HP Unveils Grain-Sized Wireless Chip That Links the Digital and Physical Worlds for Ubiquitous Information
BusinessWire

Deals, Partnerships & Sales

Reuters and CME Announce Participants in FXMarketSpace Early Adopter Program
BusinessWire
FeedBurner acquires Blogbeat
Burning Questions

Products, Markets & People
Gather.com Launches New Site That Emphasizes the Conversation Between Members of Its Social Network
PR Newswire

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Headline Summary for the Week of 10 July 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, July 13, 2006

Regulation Fracas: EC's Turn to Deal with Dissolving Distribution Channels

If you're tired of hearing about net neutrality in the US as a key regulatory issue why not take a break and see how the EC is trying to wrestle media regulations to the ground. ZDNet UK covers the Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) Directive, the legislative package that's trying to provide controls such as uniform standards for advertising and protection of minors in broadcast television. All well and good, but now in recognition of the fast proliferation of video content onto the Web they want to extend the regulations to cover online TV content as well - including new forms of video generated solely online (if that's TV at all - they don't seem to know quite yet whether that's the case). Not surprisingly major EU broadcasters think that this is a great idea, with the notable exception of the UK. The standards are meant in part to help stem the European audiovisual industry's EUR 6 to 7 billion annual deficit with US markets.

While the basic provisions of this directive are fairly innocuous, as a whole it seems to be missing the real opportunities for European media companies. In a world where distribution can be instantaneous and global interest in content can arise at the drop of a hat to benefit any outlet, it would seem that the real opportunity for European publishers and producers is to create a legislative framework that will allow EC countries to jump ahead of the US in becoming net-adept content distributors and to abandon the traditional distribution hegemonies as quickly as possible. It's kind of odd that on the one hand French legislators are all for neutrality and openness in distribution media for music content on iPods but the EC cannot quite come to the same conclusion when it comes to protecting European interests invested in proprietary distribution.

At a time when the US Congress is tied up with trying to shackle its media interests to outdated notions of distribution it would seem to be a wonderful opportunity to think about global markets more broadly and to consider how a net-centric approach to video can benefit European intellectual property more efficiently than US interests. Bravo to the EC on providing a framework that will bring localized broadcast interests into a common European framework. Now it's on to addressing the real opportunities at hand to create export revenues via the World Wide Web.