Thursday, November 30, 2006

Context as Brand: Yahoo Builds Brand Experiences out of Destination Content

Earlier this week The New York Times highlighted the return of "old school" branded content, with sponsors such as Match.com buying both high-profile product placements and co-naming rights to cable and broadcast U.S. television programs. Shades of the 1950s, when shows like Texaco Star Theater were branded by corporations looking for cost-effective exposure - and control - in a young medium hungry for ad dollars. But Variety points to a new take on content branding - destination content focused on major brand products assembled by Yahoo. Yahoo has targeted 100 top consumer brands and products and has assembled content from their various portal properties to develop an immersive brand experience. First up: Nintendo's new Wii game console.

Content from Yahoo covering the Wii includes postings from user-generated properties such as del.icio.us, Flicker and Yahoo! Answers as well as content from Yahoo! Games, branded gear for your Yahoo! Avatar, a buyer's guide with content from Yahoo! Shopping, and so on - and, of course, ads from both Nintendo and other advertisers taking advantage of a highly brand-centric environment. Brand heaven, right? Well, kind of. Creating a community around a major brand as destination content is a great idea, but the problem is that everything is so...YAHOO. Like so much of Yahoo it's hard to walk away from the experience feeling like you're really inside the featured brand: it's a little like saying "NBC's Texaco Star Theater."

Yahoo is pressing hard to romance major corporate advertisers to take advantage of their brand-friendly approach to advertising, but as it trips over its own brand development efforts it seems to lay a consistent trail of brand conflicts. The mini-portal concept has a lot going for it but Yahoo needs to allow its own branding to recede a bit more and let the context speak for itself. An ideal environment would be a little more like a Wikipedia or MySpace, where the tools are there to create specialized portal presences but without an overbearing hand of traditional media-oriented marketers making too much of a fuss over the details. Let ANY brand use these tools to create their own brand heaven - and just stand back and enjoy the results.

Headlines for 30 November 2006

Trends
Google's Content-Sharing Deal Helps Ease Belgian-Press Dispute
WSJ Online*
Panel urges tighter rules for science publications
The New York Times via IHT
Cellphone Carriers Let Others Sell Mobile Content to Users
WSJ Online*
While not a splash, Zune makes positive debut
USA Today
Could BitTorrent Inc. be the new model for file-sharing legitimacy?
Zero Paid
Yahoo Declines to Help Google in Authors Guild Lawsuit
eWeek
NC county gets Google restraining order
BusinessWeek
What would techies do with a newspaper? First, they'd make it all digital
USA Today
Why Yahoo is Backing Away from RSS
Micro Persuasion
Yahoo! enters brand land Netco builds 'brand universe'
Variety
Yahoo Quietly Launches Mobile Social-Networking Service
InformationWeek
Amazon goes UnSpun with Ruby on Rails
37 Signals
Henneberger Hired as HuffPost Prepares to Offer Original Reporting
Editor & Publisher
Has Digg peaked, gone out of fashion?
The Blog Herald

Best Practices
Profitably Running an Online Business in the Web 2.0 Era
Dion Hinchcliffe
Podcasting And File Sharing: How The Web Is Transforing Itself
Robin Good
The Presence of Magazines on the Internet
The Bibings Report
Feed publishing best practices
Niall Kennedy
Developing Attractive Location Based Service Pricing Strategies to Increase Uptake, Usage and Revenues
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Cool Tools
Spokeo Aggregates Social Networks And Blogs
TechCrunch
Google: no ads and compact
UserStyles.org

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Society of Interventional Radiology Selects Elsevier as New Publisher of Official Journal
PR Newswire
ANA, Yahoo! announce content partnership
BtoB Online

Products, Markets & People
Apex Advisory Board to Chart Global Initiative to Inventory Newspaper Archives of Developing Nations
PRWeb
Wolters Kluwer Health Launches PubFusionTM 2.0 to Improve Publication Management for Industries
dBusiness News
LexisNexis to Host Data for Law Firms
WebHosting.info

Google Answers Bows Out but Reference Services are Thriving

An entry on Google Blog yesterday announced the death of Google Answers, a premium reference service that allowed users to get live support from hundreds of researchers to answer an unlimited range of questions. The content published via Google Answers lives on, but it will be an archive at this point. Google was remarkably open about its motives and reasons:
Google is a company fueled by innovation, which to us means trying lots of new things all the time -- and sometimes it means reconsidering our goals for a product...For two new grads, it was a crash course in building a scalable product, responding to customer requests, and discovering what questions are on people's minds...Google Answers was a great experiment which provided us with a lot of material for developing future products to serve our users.
Certainly the relative success of Yahoo! Answers provides an interesting contrast to the fizzling out of Google's service. While the quality of answers in the user-generated content provided by Yahoo! Answers may not be professional grade in many - if not most - instances, Yahoo! is doing a good job of turning the product into an entertaining community portal - kind of an ad-hoc discussion service with voting and a smattering of useful information. Yahoo's marketing alliance with Answers.com may help to turn the product into a more serious reference service, but in the meantime the question becomes: what's the right model for a reference service that can incorporate user-generated content?

Wikipedia tends to overshadow this question more than most services. With excellent placement in Google search results and its own unique following and quality control capabilities, it is rapidly becoming the default reference service of choice for many content users. People trust their peers to come up with useful information, but the lesson of Wikipedia seems to be that moderation and people with reasonable levels of expertise are key to successful user-generated reference materials.

In the meantime reference desks at local libraries seem to be increasingly popular alternatives for people looking for one-on-one answers from research professionals, while professional reference services such as Guideline (which absorbed Find/SVP) have positioned their services on a more upscale plane of executive research. And while oftentimes overlooked in a new galaxy of user-generated content options online bulletin board services still provide a wealth of timely answers to pressing questions from experts knee-deep in very focused topics.

All of these models provide Google with a lot of interesting options as it decides how best to be a source of answers to people who use its leading search service. It's refreshing to see Google admitting that not every hack generated by kids fresh out of grad school is going to be worth its weight in gold and to be willing to consider how to focus its energies on being a well-integrated service that makes it easy for people to go to one place to find as many answers as possible. Google is still chasing the dream of a Star Trek-like computer that allows one to simply ask a question and get an answer -and that's not a bad thing. What Star Trek's visionaries couldn't quite grasp at the time, though, is how user-publishers would fit into the picture. We'll see what Google can craft on its holodeck soon enough...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Headlines for 29 November 2006

Trends
Congress readies broad new digital copyright bill
CNET News
BitTorrent cuts online video deals
The Mercury News
Walmart Bundles Digital Downloads With Physical DVDs
TechCrunch
Adieu to Google Answers
Google Blog
Judge Issues Restraining Order in Bay Area Newspaper Sale
AP via Editor & Publisher
Digital gorillas flex muscles in China
China Daily
UK artists instinctively choose Creative Commons
BoingBoing
Google is the Boogeyman...?
eWeek
A Career Change Shows the New Importance of Data Collection
The New York Times*

Best Practices
The future of fun: Digital rights get more flexible
PC World Canada

Cool Tools
BlogMonitor: Seek, Sift, Sort, Report
Data Mining

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Experian CheetahMail and SimpleFeed Partner to Bring RSS Technology and Services to Customers
PR Newswire
Houghton Mifflin to Be Sold to Ireland's Riverdeep
Bloomberg News

Buy Physical, Get Digital: WalMart Extends Sales to Video Downloads

TechCrunch reports on the move by retail giant Wal-Mart to include rights to a digital download of the movie "Superman Returns" as its first foray into a sales model that includes both physical and digital product package. For USD 1.97 more than the DVDs face price a purchaser can get a low-res version in Windows Media format with PlaysForSure rights protection suitable for handheld devices with smaller screens. USD 2.97 gets you a copy of the movie with the same protection but in a hi-res version suitable for PC viewing, while USD 3.97 gets you both portable and PC versions. The rights-protected copies can be used only on one device at a time, but the license for viewing may be moved from one device to another.

TechCrunch has its doubts about this arrangement, but overall you have to give Wal-Mart credit for being the first to feel out how rights-protected content can be used to move towards a model that can allow consumers to move towards downloaded movies at a nominal fee. With retail shelving space at a premium - DVDs take up more space in our local market than lettuce - and terabyte-scaled local content storage devices becoming widely affordable, it makes sense for the Wal-Marts of the world to start encouraging the digital option. Purists will decry the lack of a digital-only option and the inability to access fair use clips, but think for a moment where we were only a year ago with digital video content. Here we have a cross-platform, rights-protected download model for Hollywood entertainment in the hands of a major retailer, where a year ago most studios were mostly squabbling about what to do with digital download distribution.

The big piece missing from this and from the recent BitTorrent deal with movie studios is a mechanism to enable viral marketing. Movie studios pour millions of dollars into major film releases to generate a little buzz that will help a movie generate theatre traffic. In the meantime services such as YouTube are out there enabling audiences to generate their own enthusiasm for digital video. With so much emphasis on locking down digital rights Hollywood is missing out on the opportunity to build up enthusiasm for a content product by enabling peer-to-peer marketing via fair use clips, mashups and other tools that enable people to create street-level credibility for content.

Instead of trying to push their content at light speed into a brief window of mass distribution that trails off into "long tail" obscurity movie producers need to experiment with reversing this model. Let content find its own audience and digital sales via online channels to the point where theatre distribution will be accelerated by an active word-of-mouth from the online leaders in downloading. Since they'll be paying for the rights-protected version of this content and clipping out pieces to send friends, extra-digital marketing could be funded to some degree out of the proceeds of these efforts and probably targeted more effectively by zeroing in on the stuff that was most popular in clippings. Think of the theatre as the culmination of a communal content sharing event, rather than the be-all and end-all. Well, we can only hope for this - and wait for aggressive distributors to give it a go.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Headlines for 28 November 2006

Trends
Google's ambitions going mobile
CNET News
Next: Google, the bank?
IT Wire
Why Yahoo Likes Newspapers
SearchInsider
Media companies to see bright '07, Merrill Lynch's Cohen says
Reuters
Monster joins forces with four newspaper companies
BtoB Online
Google: 'iPod will hold all the world's TV in 12 years'
Silicon.com
The Return of Branded Entertainment: Old-School Sponsorship From a Digital-Era Company
The New York Times*
Bloggers Leading Mainstream Journalists in Transparency
MediaShift
Experts rate Wikipedia's accuracy higher than non-experts
Ars Technica
Mobile Deals: Missing the Big Picture
Washington Post
Holotof - Crowdsourcing Creativity
Read/Write Web
The Content Aggregators and the Fat Belly
GigaOM
Microsoft's Zune Falls Off Sales Pace For Media Players
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
Why Aggregation & Context and Not (Necessarily) Content are King in Entertainment
paidContent.org
Business Blogs And The Business Of Online Publishing: Survey Provides Useful Insights
Robin Good

Cool Tools
Blastfeed Filters Your Feeds
Micro Persuasion

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Mark Logic Helps Bowker Successfully Navigate Dynamic Publishing Market
MarketWire
Alacra, Inc. and the Economist Intelligence Unit Partner on Country Snapshots
PR Web
Twenty of the World's Top Blog Networks Engage FeedBurner for Advertising Services
MarketWire
StrandVision to Distribute DataCall's Live Feed Packages: Ensures Copyright-cleared Content
PR Web via Yahoo! News
TEMIS Powers Thomson Scientific ISI Web of Knowledge Indexing
PharmaLive
ALM and American Bar Foundation to Collaborate on Research on Legal Profession
BusinessWire

Products, Markets & People
StreetIQ.com Expands Business Podcast Coverage With New Website
MarketWire via MSN Money
Volantis Announces Next-generation Mobile Content Storefront Solution
BusinessWire
Wolters Kluwer Health Launches PubFusion(TM) 2.0 Publication Management for a Range of Industries
BusinessWire

Monday, November 27, 2006

News Analysis - Think Big, Think Small: The Conflict Between Media Centralization and Decentralization

As major media consolidation deals bring more and more publishing houses into private hands, the challenges of converting these properties that can respond to the needs of niche markets are becoming more acute. Combining infrastructure and staffs cannot be the only factor leading to more success in publishing markets that are by their nature highly decentralized. There is a gap in management skills, industry outlook and strategic vision in publishing companies that is going to be hard to fill without confronting the waves of users who are eager to create their own decentralized media markets.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Legal Precedents In Support of Users as Publishers Mount

User-generated content becomes more diverse and powerful by the day. Where a questionable performance in a relatively obscure venue may have been excusable by a big media name in the past, the all-seeing eye of user content puts it out there for the world to see - and to judge. Recent court decisions in the U.S. and in Canada have recognized the rights and responsibilities of individuals who act as news agents independent of media companies or technology providers, providing a much stronger legal underpinning for these user-publishers.

In the U.S. decision information posted to a Web site that could be considered libelous was deemed the responsibility of the person posting it and not of the services supporting them - a big win for portals supporting user-generated media services. In the Canadian decision a weblogger covering a public event who was harassed by local officials was deemed to have the same rights as official members of the press covering the event who were not troubled by the authorities - yet another precedent of press freedoms being extended to citizen journalists.

Both of these decisions come at a time when the recognition and use of user-generated content sources forces the hand of the courts to defend content producers who have become valuable publishers in their own right. If they were not so, then the courts would have been far more easily convinced that portal providers were responsible for users' actions. Instead, the courts see that user-generated content producers, for better or for worse, are now fulfilling an important part of the role in public debate once reserved for traditional media sources. It's a very crucial step forward in creating a broader commercial framework for intellectual property management that can encompass all content producers effectively and fairly.

Headlines for 27 November 2006

Trends
Barron's: Google shares set for fall
Reuters via CNET News
Media group to release grip on PR Newswire
The Times of London
Seeking Executive to Tame the Digital Future
The New York Times*
Look East to See the Future of the Internet
The Seoul Times
Belgian court to mull over Google case until January
Reuters
Online video 'eroding TV viewing'
SmartMobs
User-generated Sites Define This Era of the Web
Read/Write Web
Reuters Summit - Media giants to hunt for next YouTube in 2007
Reuters
A Blogger Who’s a Court-Approved Journalist
The New York Times*
British Copyright extension a no-go: BPI reacts
The Register
Daily Mail’s Online Revenues Double
paidContent.org
Zune, Creative Commons Don't Mix
Wired News

Best Practices
Home Alone? How Content Aggregators Change Navigation and Control of Content
Digital Web Magazine
Wikis: New Cultural Model?
Linux Insider

Cool Tools
Microsoft gathering millions of photos for Virtual Earth 3D
IT Wire
Digital Content Distribution Made Easy: Web Widgets Bring New Life To Your Blog - Video Guide
Robin Good
World's heaviest USB flash drive
Engadget

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Reality Digital Partners With Key Resellers to Expand Presence of User-Generated Content Platform
Red Orbit

Thomson's AP News Deal Strengthens Global Positioning, But Is It Enough?

While real-time financial quotes, trading tools and market analytics form the backbone of major content services in the securities industry, news is one of the key features of a financial content service that put its brand on the lips of traders. Thomson Financial's broadening of its news services through its announced deal with the Associated Press is another major step by Thomson to build an "on the lips" news brand, building on its July acquisition of AFX News from Agence France-Presse. Just as the AP-Dow Jones Economic Report created in the 1960s a combined service with far broader impact in financial markets Thomson is assembling a range of content with global reach to compete with providers such as Reuters who have had a worldwide financial news footprint for more than a century.

But will building up news assets through traditional news channels be enough to make a deal-changing impact for Thomson Financial? Certainly deals like the AP alliance are absolutely necessary for Thomson to have a hope of pulling down more major deals beyond its core of low-end equities services and bond trading networks, but to some degree Thomson is chasing a target whose time is already passed. News wire services are no longer the be-all and end-all for news that moves markets, with corporate weblogs, proprietary Web scraping services and other news gathering capabilities competing with major news services for the attention of traders and analysts in financial institutions. At the same time the huge trading rooms that these services once powered are getting smaller by the day as highly automated trading capabilities begin to create a more narrow marketplace for financial news services.

Even as Thomson Financial has a tough row to hoe in priming up a world class news service in the twilight of the widespread desktop trading era, competitors such as Reuters are learning how to leverage news assets far more effectively in online media markets. When Thomson jettisoned most of its print operations several years ago it lost touch with not only the surging ad revenues now found in online media markets but also a media outlook that provides a more engaged and interactive relationship with content markets. As a wide array of database publishers consider how to make more use of online outlets for their assets so must Thomson Financial consider how to build a more supple and engaged content brand that goes beyond the lockstep chase of Bloomberg and Reuters desktop positions via traditional marketing channels. Hopefully future Thomson news deals will be able to build on a now-impressive core of essential media to incorporate more progressive news sources and delivery platforms.

Headline Summary for Week of 20 November 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, November 24, 2006

Second Thoughts About Second Life: IP Issues Don't Disappear in Cyberspace

It turns out that not all is well in the world of Second Life these days. While members are still skimming around this virtual city in forever-young electronic avatar bodies, the growth of the service is creating new opportunities for crime, just as with any other municipality. Gamespot reports on problems with destructive worm programs destroying gamers' experiences in addition to last week's concerns about software that allows users to make copies of intellectual property sold by vendors in the online world. So much for good looks solving everything.

Time and again we see software-oriented companies come up with great ideas for products that turn out to be recognized as content plays after the fact - at which point it's usually too late to address the basic questions of how to enforce intellectual property rights. As we warned in our News Analysis a few weeks back the lessons to be learned from Second Life are more about the general need of publishers to think about how to appeal to digital natives who have been brought up with gaming and a sense of being able to access content as they wish.

Many marketers thought that they had found a special Nirvana in Second Life to bridge into this market segment, but you don't leave the rules of the "real world" behind in doing so. Instead of rushing towards a crude tool like Second Life to solve their marketing issues publishers and marketers need to concentrate more on how the lessons that can be learned in Second Life can be applied more effectively in the much more complex world of online publishing beyond it.

Over the Horizon: MuniFi Promises to Bring New Opportunities and Challenges

A kind of geekish article by Om Malik on rapidly shifting technologies supporting municipal wirelesss Internet access prompted me to catch up on the world of WiFi a bit on a quiet post-Thanksgiving afternoon. A nice summary of recent news developments affecting WiFi provided by eWeek can be found here. In a nutshell muni WiFi is still taking baby steps but is beginning to spread through Silicon Valley communities fairly quickly, with some towns having their choice of networks from which to choose. While some major carriers are charging user USD 20 a month or so for town-wide access ad-supported systems by Google and others are also in play and gathering steam. One of the eWeek articles highlighted new fourth-generation wireless broadband equipment announced by Nortel that includes Internet everywhere, mobile video, VOIP, streaming media, data applications and mobile electronic commerce. This equipment will be ready to support new networking standards expected in mid-2007 that will mark the start of cost-effective, video-grade wireless services.

I believe that one of the trends that we can expect to see unfolding next year is a radical expansion of the push towards municipal WiFi services in the U.S. Initial forays are already fairly successful in major cities, and with the advent of video wireless we're likely to see a much broader push not only for media-produced video but video being churned out by users and local merchants communicating with one another via municipal wireless services. It's also likely to spur on a new interest in automated content download services, such that people on the go can have their favorite news and entertainment showing up on mobile devices with greater ease than ever before.

I have been warning for some time about the potential impact of WiFi on content deals cut by major media companies with phone companies using underpowered proprietary cell networks as a transport. It looks as if publishers will need to be particularly careful in 2007 in determining just how long of a lock-in on these kinds of deals will be in their best interest as Internet-friendly WiFi gains momentum. Presuming a "choke hold" on distribution via wireless is no longer an option in many markets. In the meantime expect plenty of legislative and legal rough-and-tumble as new power plays develop to get a piece of the municipal wireless Internet action.

Headlines for 24 November 2006

Trends
Welch Group Considers Formal Bid for Boston Globe
WSJ Online*
EPS report gets mixed reviews: Critics say scholarly publishing report is biased
Information World Review
Belgian Court to hear Google-newspaper fight
Seattle PI
Investing time and money in virtual worlds
TechMeme
OriginalSignal Relaunches With Big Changes
TechCrunch
Google Integrating Blog Posts Into Search Results
Boyd Creative
Q: When is a news article not a news article? A: When it’s paid to be read
Vermont Guardian
Without Jason, Weblogs Inc Will Lose Its Edge
Micro Persuasion
Private equity sees more value in old media than stock market
MarketWatch*

Best Practices
Blogging and user generated content on the web is already having an impact on business: Research
FinFacts
Is Mesh a Problem for MuniFi?
GigaOM

Cool Tools
FM Holiday Gadget Guide
FM Publishing

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Elsevier Announces New Publishing Partnership With The Russian Academy of Sciences
WebWire
Mergers and Acquisitions: Completed Deals by Yahoo, Microsoft & Google
Shumla.com

Products, Markets & People
CyberOptic Group Announces First Online Media Distribution Platform for Small Businesses
ThomasNet

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

News Analysis - Conflicting Visions: Yahoo Aims to be Master of All Media, Google the Servant

Yahoo has been faulted for being slow on the draw in its deal-making efforts as of late, but with its deal with 176 major newspapers and a separate deal to provide user-generated content to Answers.com Yahoo is seeking to place its content and its ads in a broader array of destinations to make the bottom line look as good as the top line. In the meantime the global contextualization engine that is Google keeps chugging along with far better margins. Is it better to serve in the heaven of user-driven context than to rule in the hell of decaying media empires?

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Headlines for 21 November 2006

Trends
Court: Web sites not liable for libel committed by third parties
The Mercury News*
Google Mapping an Offline Course
The New York Times*
Yahoo internal memo urges major shake-up, job cuts
Reuters
Yahoo, Saved by the Bell
GigaOM
Yahoo-Newspapers: Conference Call: Why Yahoo? Timelines, Plans, Etc.
paidContent.org
Playing catch-up with Google at Microsoft
CNET News
Revenue crunch looms for YouTube and friends
The Australian
After One Month, CBS Content Among Most Viewed Videos on YouTube
PR Newswire via EarthTimes
Wiki Opens for Corporate Org Charts
Micro Persuasion
In Web World, Rich Now Envy the Superrich
The New York Times*
Second Life Will Save Copyright
Wired News
Growth In Websites Reached An All Time High In 2006, ISPs Thriving
Playfuls.com
Internet ranks No. 2 for science news
AP via Post Intelligencer

Best Practices
The Semantic Web is About Helping People Use the Web More Productively
Minding the Planet

Cool Tools
A Human-Powered Relevance Engine For Internet Startup News
Matt McAlister
KnowNow and Automattic Offer Enterprise-Class Blog Authoring and Intelligence Tools
KnowNow

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Thomson Financial and The Associated Press Announce News Partnership
PR Newswire via Charlotte.com

Products, Markets & People
LexisNexis(TM) Introduces New Opportunities for Law Firms to Showcase Capabilities on Martindale.com
BusinessWire

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Headline Summary for Week of 13 November 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, November 17, 2006

Cashing in on Books and Journals: John Wiley Purchases Blackwell to Strengthen Global Reach

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. has announced its plan to acquire U.K.-based Blackwell Publishing for about USD 1 billion, according to Business Week and other sources. The deal is less than 3x Blackwell's annual turnover, not a disastrous price but certainly one that reflects the difficulties of scholarly and academic publishers in a marketplace that is growing leery of print assets as a foundation of future profits. To compete effectively, these publishers require the scale of inventory and finances necessary to justify sophisticated electronic publishing and ecommerce capabilities. The combination of Wiley and Blackwell will create a publishing company with a global scale similar to that of rivals such as Elsevier that are moving aggressively into electronic markets.

John Wiley is a thought leader in its own right in electronic publishing. It has converted its corporate portal into a highly browseable ecommerce destination for book buyers and its Interscience portal for journals provides easy browsing of both scientific book, reference and journals content. Wiley's aggressive work with partners such as Knovel to repackage reference content into highly usable subscription assets also bodes well for Blackwell content needing to find its way into more valuable contexts.

While consolidation is not always good for institutions seeking competitive content pricing in this instance the likely entity emerging from this acquisition is going to provide a more global-worthy competitive force in scholarly publishing that is likely to provide a healthy survivor in those markets rather than resources struggling to meet their requirements. Congratulations to both of these companies for combining two healthy efforts into a whole that's likely to be far greater than the sum of its parts.

The Next Generation: Major Media Companies Retire their Web 2.0 Pioneers

In a pair of interesting announcements Fox Interactive Media, which holds social networking portal MySpace as its primary asset, is putting its President Mark Levinsohn out to pasture, as reported by paidContent.org. Staci Kramer of paidContent.org speculates that the move may have been triggered by the exit of FIM COO Mark Jung, whose duties Levinsohn had been covering. Meanwhile over at AOL Jason Calacanis, erstwhile weblog impressario and reinventor of AOL's Netscape portal, is also on the way out according to TechCrunch, apparently due in part to AOL's chief executive Jonathan Miller exit. In both instances you cannot fault these executives efforts in establishing healthy media properties: MySpace continues to grow traffic and Netscape, after a transition into its new social news bookmarking persona, seems to have found its footing in the traffic rankings. Instead, it appears as if Time Warner and Fox have decided to start cranking up the profits in their Web 2.0 properties in the hands of seasoned media executives familiar with how to draw in big-name advertising dollars.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does signal a watershed of sorts for Web entrepreneurs who had hoped to make the most of marriages with major media companies. As is so often the case, vision and line management skills to toe the bottom line do not always go hand in hand. But at the end of the day these moves probably have less to do with the skills and personalities of the people involved than the realities of how quickly advertising dollars are likely to be shifting to contexts defined by social media properties. The major media companies want to make sure that they get this transition right, so that players such as Yahoo, already amassing their own impressive stable of social media assets and with strong ad networks of their own, will not beat them to the punch with major advertisers.

In an era in which convergence is no longer just cocktail chatter but a rapidly approaching reality social media properties in the hands of these ad-driven executives are going the be asked to shoulder significant revenues for these companies in the near-term rather than as a down-the-roader - a move that may break some of the delicate chemistry between user-publishers and their products that holds loyalties together. It's a little bit harder to fire audiences than executives, after all. In some ways we may be seeing a replay of the ill-fated initial marriage of AOL and Time Warner - except that this time it's not the "Old Media" guy on one side of the announcement podium and the "New Media" guy on the other, but instead the "Merged Media" people confronting users who are nowhere near the podium. Best of luck to those leaving and those staying at AOL and FIM - hopefully there are plenty of geese with golden eggs for everyone...

Headlines for 17 November 2006

Trends
John Wiley to buy Blackwell Publishing
BusinessWeek
Ross Levinsohn Resigns as President of Fox Interactive Media, to be Replaced by Peter Levinsohn
paidContent.org
University of Virginia Joins Google Book Search
Library Journal
Google Enterprise strategy: 'Death to the hierarchy'
ZDNet
Is Google worth its weight in gold?
CNET News
Google Maps adds click-to-call
Download Squad
Microsoft Plans Free, Ad-Supported WiFi
iMedia Connection
IBM Assists in Development of Open and Standard Content Analytics Software
EContent Magazine
OurSpace: A Post-Search World?
OMMA
New Web 2.0 NYC City Guide launches
PR Web
MySpace to Launch Enhanced Copyright Protection Tool to Provide Easier, Faster Content Protection
BusinessWire
Building Newspaper 2.0
Hyaline Skies

Best Practices
Social Media is not Mass Media
GigaOM

Cool Tools
Fleck Offers Zero Friction Web Annotation
TechCrunch
Tele Atlas MultiNet 2006.10 Next Generation of Global Digital Map Database
The Auto Channel
BrainKeeper Launches Enterprise Wiki
EContent Magazine

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
ProQuest and Safari Books Online Renew Partnership
EContent Magazine
Microsoft and Sprint Partner on Mobile Search
CIO Today
Hearst, The McGraw-Hill Companies and Pilot House Invest $10 Million in Gather.com's Social Media Site
BusinessWire
United Business Media Sells Backbeat Books for $2.2m
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Yahoo! buys Bix.com for content rating and compo know-how
PC Pro

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Headlines for 16 November 2006

Trends
It's Official: Jon Miller Out, Randy Falco In As Chairman and CEO, AOL
paidContent.org
Jason Calacanis Says Adios to AOL
TechCrunch
Coping with Convergence: Local Search Meets Mobile and WiFi
Search Engine Watch
Nielsen to Launch Video-On-Demand Measurement Service
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Google sees professionals outdone by Web amateurs
Reuters
China allows full access to Wikipedia
The Boston Globe
Stoll out to convince publishers: Google News is friend, not foe
Online Press Gazette
Don't Believe The Web 3.0 Hype
Publish
About.com: The King of SEO
Read/Write Web
Reed's education arm disappoints
The Guardian
U.K.'s Pearson Tests The Group Dynamic For a 'Wiki' Book
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
Five Critical Factors that Make Corporate Blogging Go
Micro Persuasion
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft partner to help webmasters standardize search engine submissions
Macworld via Yahoo! News

Cool Tools
System 'spots multimedia content'
BBC News
ContentWatch Releases New Internet Filtering Appliance
BusinessWire
ZapTXT's New RSS Alert Service Ensures Web Users Never Miss a Crucial Piece of Information
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Investment groups buy Clear Channel
Richmond.com
Alacra, Inc. to Provide Standard & Poor's Credit Research in the Alacra Store
PR Web
TechTarget to Team with Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council to Provide Quarterly IT Research
BusinessWire
Reader's Digest Agrees to be Sold in Biggest Consumer Deal of the Year
FOLIO: Magazine

Products, Markets & People
ShopWiki Relaunches For the Holidays
Mashable!
ArchiVal National Geographic Map Reproductions Available Online
Directions Magazine
Adobe offers enterprise rights management tool
IT Business

Reuters Takes Weblogs Under its Global Distribution Wing

The Washington Post reports along with others on Reuters Group PLC's acquisition of a USD 7 million stake in weblog syndicator Pluck. The Austin, Texas-based company is in a way providing the next generation of feed aggregation that builds on what Reuters has done already in financial content markets with its global real-time data feeds of securities trading data from the world's exchanges. Pluck's BlogBurst Syndication Network plucks out editorially selected weblogs and packages them into feeds that major publishers and corporations integrate into their portals to provide additional views in specific categories of content, providing the benefits of user-generated media alongside mainstream media. Other Pluck features make it easier for publishers to solicit user content for their own sites and to allow users to create their own aggregated feeds of news and weblog commentary. It's a timely move for Reuters, allowing them to gain both new media services to offer their clients through their global sales and distribution network while positioning their news as being in the same stream of relevance as increasingly respected weblog sources.

Where this leaves other news producers and aggregators is probably a more germane focus at this time in light of the Reuters deal. AP has doings with Google to provide their core news content to a new iteration of Google News, which is likely to include user-generated content along the lines of the Newsvine portal that already consumes AP content, but other news wire services are far less aggressive in positioning their content alongside user-generated media. AP and Google offer a different type of synergy than the Reuters deal, but if Reuters is to add weblog content and other sources alongside its own at Reuters.com there could be an interesting competition a-brewing for a new era of news aggregation services. The Reuters deal may also accelerate interest in other services that are normalizing Web content into syndicated feeds to help media organizations take a similarly agnostic approach to delivering news products. Any one up for a deal with blog and news aggregator Newstex? The time could be right for a major player to swoop down and bolt on Newstex' capabilities to broaden their appeal.

Whatever the ultimate consequences of this deal Reuters has made it clear that effective integration and acquisition of user-generated media is going to be a key element of any news service's strengths moving forward. Professional editorial sources will continue to provide a valuable core to those services but with a world of experts speaking their minds through weblogs it would be a foolish move to ignore these front-line authors as being outside the sphere of mainstream news any longer. Kudos to both Reuters and Pluck on a deal that seems to make the best of both of their strengths.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Headlines for 15 November 2006

Trends
IAB: Internet ad revenue surpasses $4 billion in third quarter
BtoB Online
Time Warner's Parsons Defends Decision to Keep AOL Web Unit: Worth $26 Bilion in a Few Years?
Bloomberg News
Google saves $200m for YouTube legal issues
FT.com
'Second Life' faces threat to its virtual economy
CNET News
NBC Official Is Expected to Join AOL
The New York Times*
The Road to the Semantic Web
Read/Write Web
Huh? YouTube Sends TechCrunch A Cease & Desist for Video Download Tool
TechCrunch
Ongoing crisis in academic-journal pricing is the focus of recent colloquium
Stanford Report
Why is RSS not catching on with U.K. youth?
Edu Blogs
CNN+Zune=No Love... Can I show you my new iPod Shuffle?
Spicy Gadget Roll
TiVo to knit Internet, living room closer together
Ars Technica
Mark Cuban courts YouTube foe
CNET News

Best Practices
Blogwild! - A Great Resource for New Business Bloggers
TechnoSight
Judging the Best Weblogs in the World at The BOBs
MediaShift
LibraryThing Creates World’s Worst Recommendation Engine
Mashable!
The Low-Down on Mash-Ups
e-Commerce Guide

Cool Tools
AOL Instant Messenger 6.0 Goes State of the Art
TechCrunch

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Brainshark Announces Platform Integrated With Salesforce.com
BusinessWire via TMCNet

Products, Markets & People
LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Enhances Capabilities of Health Care Fraud-Fighting Tool
BusinessWire
Prospero's TalkBack to Provide Commentary on All Website Content: Videos, Photos, Editorial, Products
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services Unveils New Compliance Services for Consumer Protection Law
BusinessWire
E-learning recruit develops LexisNexis tools
Information World Review

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Showcase Your Company at the SIIA Previews Event


Early-stage, innovative content companies and companies that enable content creation, distribution and commerce solutions are invited to apply to present before an audience of industry leaders and corporate development executives, bankers, technologists and other influencers at SIIA Previews, January 29, 2007 in New York City.

If selected, your company will provide a 10-minute Q&A presentation before an audience of senior executives, which could include your next business partner, customer, investor, or acquirer. Submissions are due by 1 December 2006. A committee of industry experts will review all submissions and select semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will be notified by December 15, 2006.

Click here to read more about the SIIA Previews Event

Lisensa Leverages the Creative Commons Model to Simplify Copyright Management and Monetization


The Creative Commons system for establishing general licensing terms for online content has been the hobby horse of proponent Lawrence Lessig and other free content enthusiasts for several years, but it's a system that seems to get more lip service than use at times. The key gap is that while Creative Commons license "deeds" define when people may reserve full copyright for commercial uses the Creative Commons system itself does little to facilitate the conversion of those opportunities into revenues for a publisher.

The announcement of Lisensa may herald a closing of this gap. Lisensa is a new service that facilitates both the licensing of content for commercial use and the collection of use payments. A publisher can identify a Web site URL to be managed by Lisensa and then specify the terms of its commercial use. You can specify no commercial use, use without limitations or use with specific limitations - similar to the Creative Commons deed structure. In the "Yes but" option, though, the publisher can request attribution, a link-back to the original post, use of only a 500-character "fair use" snippet from the piece and whether payment is required for an annual subscription or per-post. Once this information has been specified, Lisensa generates HTML code that can be inserted into the online publication to generate a link back to Lisensa to manage the commercial licensing process. Lisensa takes ten percent of whatever commercial transaction transpires, if there is in fact money changing hands.

With spam weblogs mushrooming and individuals becoming more aware of the commercial potential for their self-published content a system such as Lisensa may offer an appealing way for independent media producers to have a clear path to monetizing their content that doesn't require a fleet of media lawyers to "do the deal." Unlike services such as Copyright Clearance Center and iCopyright, the emphasis in Lisensa's approach is on facilitating primary content licensing via commercial publishing partners instead of content relicensing by individuals and institutions using content for purposes other than commercial publishing.

With a networked world of publishers and republishers the model of Lisensa offers some important lessons for how publishers can approach the user publishing community more effectively without finding themselves dealing with new permutations of the Legg Mason lawsuit. It also offers some lessons for content relicensing companies, which need to consider how to position their capabilities in a world that is creating new publishers every minute via weblogs and other social media services. Lisensa may not be the most sophisticated license manager in the world but as with weblogs themselves sometimes simplicity is a virtue that can gain you a lot of mileage in the marketplace.

Headlines for 14 November 2006

Trends
Internet ad potential underestimated - Yahoo CEO
Reuters
Open Access resources could mean journal subscriptions cancelled
Information World Review
Reuters takes stake in Pluck, to syndicate blogs
Washington Post
Google Closes YouTube Acquisition
TechCrunch
New Online Service Creates Copyright Registration Service and Marketplace for User-Generated Content
BusinessWire
Q&A with Amanda Congdon: The video blogger has parlayed her success into deals with ABC and HBO
BusinessWeek
Mashups Coming Fast and Furious
GigaOM
The future of newspapers
The Independent
Yahoo Ties With Vodafone UK To Deliver Targeted Ads; Discount For Watching Ads
paidContent.org
Google introduces customized home pages for groups
Reuters
What Bill Parcells Taught Me About Social Media
Micro Persuasion
Al-Jazeera aims for no 'accent' in English
USA Today

Best Practices
The farce behind 'Digital Freedom'
CNET News

Cool Tools
Listen to podcasts on your cell phone--or any phone
Download Squad
Apple in deal to let iPod videos play on planes
Reuters

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Endeca Partners with Clarabridge to Unlock Value from Business Intelligence Investments
BusinessWire
TiVo, ICM in Content Pact
AdWeek
Microsoft Offers Digital News Video Through The NewsMarket for Zune and Vista Announcements
MarketWire
LexisNexis Selects Autonomy for its Superior Foreign Language Support via Competitive Procurement
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Products, Markets & People
Hoover's to Expand Private Company Coverage for the Top 250,000 Private Companies in the U.S.
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
ALM’S Law Journal Press Announces Publication of ''Information Security Law: Control of Digital Assets''
BusinessWire

News Analysis - Yet Another Meme: The Web 3.0 Label Highlights Self-Organizing Content

Already tired from a year's worth of Web 2.0 buzz John Markoff of The New York Times is spinning out Yet Another Meme - a "yam" known as Web 3.0. In Markoff's eyes the new game in content is to push out concierge-like services that analyze Web content to discern much deeper patterns of meaning and more intuitive results for answer-seekers. It's all pretty true stuff, but it's also stuff that's been under development for a long, long time - and is not likely to provide quick payoffs any time soon. In the meantime publishing-empowered users are organizing content themselves and coming up with some pretty compelling insights of their own.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Sunday, November 12, 2006

SEC Pushes for Corporate Weblog Feeds to Provide Fair Disclosure Content

In a sign of possible changes afoot Christopher Cox, the new Chairmen of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is mulling over using corporate weblogs as a venue for publishing financial statements and other key content required to fulfill SEC regulations. Interestingly enough, Cox made this statement on his own new SEC weblog, according to AP. While the SEC is no stranger to online innovation, this is a potentially huge step towards positioning weblogs and syndicated weblog feeds as a major component in the fabric of financial content outlets. The system of relying on established press release channels for these disclosures still serves a general purpose for corporations wanting a prioritized queue of content for editorial desks and securities traders using real-time news feeds, but for more general investors and analysts the performance of an RSS feed will be more than adequate in many instances.

The likely use of weblog feeds for SEC-mandated disclosures will accelerate the trend towards corporations managing their own PR channels more directly than in the past. As users learn to aggregate content themselves far more effectively and corporations gain confidence in the simplicity and reliability of self-syndicating feeds the need for premium press release services is becoming more specialized - and questionable. Except a high level of enthusiasm for this proposed deployment of key corporate content from corporations looking to simplify disclosure compliance requirements - and plenty of worried looks from press release distributors trying to come up with more value-add services to justify their costly premium services.