Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Headlines for 30 January 2007

Has Yahoo Picked Marketing as Its Game?
Time Exec: We Need More Failure
Time Inc. Mulls Health Portal
E.W. Scripps Shares Plunge; Forecast Misses Estimates
Bloomberg News
Apple’s Just Desserts a Big Win for Online Journalism
Center for Citizen Media
Mainstream Media Usage of Web 2.0 Services is Increasing
Read/Write Web
Call It MyNewspaperSpace
Ad Age*

Best Practices
Future of Intellectual Property in Asia-Pacific

Cool Tools
ClipSyndicate Redefines Web Publishing, Providing Platform for Custom Video Channels on Web Sites
PR Newswire
Near-Time Delivers Blog and Wiki Business Engine
Billboards That Know You by Name
The New York Times*

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Silverchair and McGraw-Hill Launch Next-Generation Emergency Medicine Information Platform
PR Newswire
Law Management - Global Law Firm, Foley & Lardner LLP, Selects LexisNexis Data Center Hosting

Products, Markets & People
Newstex Announces Addition of Investor's Business Daily(R) Intraday Updates
PR Newswire

SIIA Information Industry Summit 2007: Confidence with an Umbrella

The SIIA Information Industry Summit at Cipriani in New York City drew more than 420 attendees with a higher profile of industry executives than in previous years - and an air of confidence in the face of industry changes that have benefited many in attendance. Publishing and content technology companies are experiencing healthy growth, showing healthy margins and aggressive shifts towards electronic-first operations where some had lagged in these arenas. But with an uncertain economy on the horizon umbrellas were at least thoughts about future fashion accessories.

Our live posts from the conference are on our Industry Events weblog:

Ann Moore, Chairman & CEO, Time Magazine

Whose Content is it, Anyway?

Vanishing Icons M&A Panel

Richard Zannino, Dow Jones & Company

Corporate Web 2.0 - What are Opporuntities in the B2B Space?

Peggy White Reflects on Yahoo! Finance and the Industry

CEO Panel - New Rules, New Tools

Keynote Conversation with Tad Smith, CEO, Reed Business Information

Vertical Search, Is It Really the Next Thing?

Advertising and PR for Everyone - Who is Winning the Race for Marketing Dollars?

Steve Rubel, Edelman Worldwide Me2 Revolution

Luncheon Keynote: Paul Cosgrave, NYC IT Commissioner

Multimedia Monetization - Business Models in a Broadband World

Traditional Magazines Moving to Digital Publishing

The Evolving Publisher - How Publishers are Extending Themselves Beyond Old Models

Monday, January 29, 2007

SIIA Previews: Measuring the Puppy Paws

When I go to large trade shows I try to make it a point to troll through the less glamorous aisles of exhibitors to discover some of the up and coming companies and to hear their pitches. Some are obviously fully-grown small companies and others have potential that makes them look like puppies with big paws that are just waiting to turn into big dogs. The SIIA Previews event is a bit like that, with three sets of young companies trying to gain the attention of investors and publishers. The event drew more than a hundred people, which was pretty impressive given some of the competition for people's attention in a busy week of events. Companies presenting were limited to five minutes of pitch, followed by Q&A, not unlike Silicon Valley gathering of hopefuls. But this event was held in the offices of CIBC World Markets instead of some trendy Flatiron destination, appropriate given the crowd of serious investors and major publishers in attendance. Highlights:

Opening Panel: Deal Trends

The key moment for this segment was at the very end, when moderator Joel Dreyfuss, Editor-in-Chief of Red Herring, asked the panelists if 2007 would be a better dealmaking year than last year. Only after a lot of coaxing did a single hand go up, and then a couple of others. Clearly we're at the end of a business cycle and we'll start to see the effects of this within the next six to ten months. There were some good investments described by the panel and some significant wins and new ideas afoot but they're mostly incremental ideas that will take a while to evolve at this point.

The key new players in media investment are hedge funds, as tech is starting to look "safe" with 20-25 percent internal rate of ownership, better than VC's typical 60 percent stakes. Joel foresees more than one hedge funds having difficulties making investments based on a limited understanding of today's markets. Joel noted 942 million in Web 2.0 plays, no exits, 4 acquisitions including YouTube, so where there's money there's hope. Key problem: Web companies are not large employers how do you grow an economy with so few workers. Joel sees the biggest plays in mobile content, for many people a phone is their first computer. In India there are 6 million new mobile phone users every month, 42 million internet users, many in cafes. "Club" (syndicated) deals are a huge trend, 10-35 billion deals made possible because of them - it will get messy at some point try to stay away from it easier to manage in the walls of your own firm

Will Porteus, RRE Ventures

Looking at weather, storm risk solutions - eg ski areas in East, resort owners can buy policy, trading markets emerging for weather volatility. Data center technology complexity going away, new products for mid-market and consumers, storage and networking technologies, easier to use. Debate on where we are in cycle in infrastructure and content, great investments are in riding on that plumbing.

Rene Benedetto, Principal Halyard Capital

Media and Communications Sectors 12 investments in IS, B2b, papers; Opportunities in under the radar companies, avoid out of control valuations. Looking at interactive marketing, lead generation, mass media no longer effective effective for marketing, companies looking at the ROI on cost of customer acquisition. Halyard focusing on lead generation and online directories for education. Transactions-driven content moving towards pay for performance, brand knows what they will pay to get a customer, this company has the data to help them reach them, direct mail, etc.

Lex Miron ED, Interactive Media, CIBC World Markets

CIBC has good platform for media, more interactive plays, more pure plays. Focuses on content, services built around content - content that's designed for the media, Web 2.0 makes old media relevant. Avoids "atoms" - physical-world content plays - looks for plays with barriers to entry, eBay - consumer doesn't want 100 eBays as long as one works well. Prefer A management team with B idea over A idea with a B management team.

Justin Sadrian MD, Warburg Pincus

Audiences migrating to online, ad dollars following, still big lag between online time and online spend, macro trend for years to come. Lead generation is a big focus, and in general people making a buying decision. Audience is key also - looking for destination sites, looking for URL that's been typed in, natural search more defensible.

Steve Fadem, AOL (Relegence)

Bills get paid a lot quicker now, more infrastructure, used to take 5 years to build out a server farm, now a whole team managing this. Came in after "C" round, summer 2001, focused on financial services, complex perferences for four VCs, did a recapitalization round, licensing discussion turned into exit. Worst moment? SF - managing 4vc, outside investors, time horizons.

Company Previews

Decision Tree Media creates private-label web guides that drive qualified leads to sales channels. Clever idea - interactive guides on personal finance strategies and products guide educate potential investors on investment options, creating highly qualified leads. Good use of content, focused, numerous syndication options.

Eurekster empowers communities to own and refine site-based web search. Not a new-new play, but still leading edge: use Wiki-like functionality to tune popular searches. Thousands of "swickis" already developed. Interesting collaborative to improving search results - a little ahead of its time, this one had potential as a feature, not clear that this translates into an effective business model.

Generate, Inc. provides real-time vertical search (from 41 million domains), directories, and social networking services for media and publishing companies interested in generating incremental page views, subscriptions, and user value. Create complex and deep business information from content mining focused at specific business verticals. Promises to do for business information what trading systems did for Wall Street to create enterprise-ready tailored services. Keep an eye on it.

Near-Time integrates a group weblog with wiki pages, team events and shared files in a hosted and secure collaborative environment. Content can be kept private in a group or exposed in part or in whole to the public. Subscription module in the works to allow users to charge access to some or all of a site's content. Early days using Ruby on Rails development but very strong already.

Content Delivery Companies

Dragonfly provides a multi-media content delivery network that builds revenue through engagement, retention and advanced metrics. Nice technology, getting popular amongst enterprises who are swamped with videos when they least expected. A crowded space, but easy to deploy, could get a fair amount of play.

Inform Technologies LLC metatags publisher's existing content and editorial assets to deliver an enriched, personalized online experience, dramatically increasing page views, visitor loyalty and revenues. Already pretty popular amongst publishers, a good tool, not sure that it's worthy of all of the buzz that it's generated, but the stuff does what Moreover should have done.

Pando Networks offers a free, simple to use application with an unprecedented underlying network architecture for rich-media content delivery. Pando solves a simple problem with excellence and extensibility. This is a puppy with huge, huge paws - watch their growth and their potential transformation into a default repository for content of all kinds - including copyrighted entertainment materials.

RealTimeMatrix has pioneered break-through technology that enables anyone to get relevant content from the Web the instant it is published. A filtering mechanism for the "firehose" of Web feeds and other sources, good technology but needing more focus on specific problems to be solved.

Keynote Presentation: Fred Wilson, Managing Partner at Flatiron Partners & Union Square Ventures

How many times do we have to hear the "content wants to be free" speech? VCs seem to want to invest in endless streams of ad-supported plays, never acknowledging that downdrafts in advertising can kill these optimistic rubrics easily. Feeds and ads are important, but I think that Near-Time is right on message in acknowledging that for smaller readership and communities subscription social media will have strong appeal. People are always ready to pay for exclusivity if it buys them some advantages.

Content Protectors

Attributor is creating a platform that provides transparency and accountability in online content use and licensing for the rapidly growing content economy. This is pretty hot - insert a token into an original copy of a file and the Attributor crawl will ferret out copies and tell a publisher which one is which. Has far broader potential than its current uses, but interesting in its own right.

Cranium Softworks, Inc. helps streamline the publishing and content delivery process and protects online intellectual property. Good idea - track logins and figure out who's abusing single-user logins. Good negotiating tool. Needs to be implemented with controls that warn people gently to do the right thing.

iCopyright, Inc. specializes in developing technology for digital content marketing and licensing. Well-known to SIIA members, not a new tool in the strictest sense but with its settlement of legal issues and new ad-based redistribution technologies iCopyright is just starting to make waves. It's relatively gentle approach to IP management places an emphasis on effective content remarketing opportunities.

So there you have it, nary a mangy mongrel in the lot. For a first-shot event this came off extremely well, with good attendance by important players in the content industry. Kudos to Ed Keating of the SIIA and Newstex CEO Larry Schwartz for pulling this off on relatively short notice to high expectations.

Headlines for 29 January 2007

Open Access to Science Under Attack
Scientific American
YouTube may share revenue with users: Co-founder and CEO Chad Hurley
Movable Type Enterprise and Microsoft Office 2007: Blogs for Business
Movable Type
Web TV downloads forecast to hit $6.3bn
Businesses gain powerful new tools with emergence of semantic search
eBay removes all virtual property auctions

Best Practices
Adobe to Release PDF for Industry Standardization
Does DRM help or hurt eBooks?
Technology Evangelist

Cool Tools
Wikipedia Added to Google OneBox
Micro Persuasion
Mashable takes on MySpace codes with Mashcodes

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
LexisNexis(R) Risk & Information Analytics Group and Sentinel Align to Create Sex Offenders Solution
Digital 50
Atypon to develop new software platform for JSTOR
Information World Review
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins and American Academy of Ophthalmology to Create Online Education Center
FAST Introduces Business Intelligence Built on Search
Mainstream Data Announces Global Content Delivery Contract with Splash News
Broadcast Newsroom
Newspapers Use NewsGator's VideoBuzz(TM) Service for Online Customized Content
Dow Jones Newswires' Content and Deep Coding Help Secure Agreement with New Networking Site
Bob's Guide
blinkx Partners with YouAreTV Adding Hundreds of Hours of User-Generated Content to Search Index
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Streamburst Launches Revolutionary Alternative to Digital Rights Management
Prime Newswire

Products, Markets & People
Siderean Software Receives U.S. Patent for Faceted Metadata Navigation
Global Content Transformation Company Techbooks Announces New Identity: Aptara
PR Newswire
Platts Now Reporting Daily Steel Prices with Launch of Newest Publication, 'Steel Markets Daily'
PR Newswire

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Headline Summary for Week of 22 January 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

News Analysis - Promises, Promises: eBooks Still Await Serious Commitments from Major Publishers

The buzz this week is about Google's plans to offer eBook downloads for PCs and mobile devices. Great news, but will this allow the book industry to wrestle out of the stranglehold of a mass of conflicting delivery technologies and DRM strategies? That's not likely any time soon - especially given the tentative relationship between Google and wary book publishers. Yet the future of book publishing is hanging on the willingness of publishers to move aggressively into an environment that will allow eBooks to move into the contexts in which users value them most. Are book publishers ready to move past promises of eBook development to aggressive new strategies?

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Friday, January 26, 2007

Headlines for 26 January 2007

Microsoft hurt by poor Live branding, analysts say
Yahoo Catches A Break, But Will Panama Deliver?
IBD via Content Agenda
Google Video Search Needs To Improve
Norway Outlaws iTunes
PC World
Consumer-Generated Video Uploads Takes Off -- Consumer Trust of Peers Trumps Media & Marketers
Beet TV
Server software sales help Microsoft beat expectations
Seattle PI
European consortium enters the ring with multimedia search engine
PaidContent Crowd: This Ain't No Dot-Com Bubble
Media Shift
CNET Requires That Journalists Respond to Blog Comments
Micro Persuasion
YouTube, NewTube
Google mashes up books and maps
IT World
McGraw-Hill’s revenue up in 2006
BtoB Online

Best Practices
Here's how you get citizen journalists
The Editors Weblog

Cool Tools
More than just a radio: In the future, radio sets will deliver more than just audio programmes
Radio Netherlands

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
CQ Press Selects Really Strategies' RSuite CMS for its Directories Content
AP Syndicates Content to Wii
washingtonpost.com Partners With RealClearPolitics to Offer Unsurpassed Selection of Political Content
PR Newswire
Legal Notice Registry to Provide Nolo Legal Content
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
LexisNexis Risk & Information Analytics Group Debuts New Commercial Solution Lines and Website
Answers.com Upgrades with New Content
Submit Express
Ex-Yahoo Exec now Pageflakes CEO
Time Inc.'s McAniff Resigns From Co-Chief Operating Officer Post; Auton, George Promoted
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Runway Congestion: Aviation Week Portal Relaunches with Channels and Magazines

The announcement cites the relaunched AviationWeek portal as "evidence of AVIATION WEEK's ongoing commitment to digital transformation." It's certainly evident from the redesign that AW is going "online first" in a bigger way, but it's also evidence of the need to keep bridges open to your print-based community. Example: here's the online page for AW's Business and Commercial Aviation print publication, with content parallelling the current print edition and here's the Business Aviation Channel for the portal. The "channel" has content that's building during the days between weekly editions, while the weekly edition content is presumably static once it's on the site. The channels appear in the main site navigation, whereas the print edition is offered in a subnavigation bar under "publications," so the distinction is clear enough - as is the primacy of the digital channel.

This is clear enough, and it's convenient to have a link that allows someone to look at exactly the content that's in a print edition to allow you look up something online that you've seen in print. Try that on many of today's dynamic newspaper Web sites - easier said than done. So kudos from that standpoint as a convenience option for making the most of both the online and print experience. But it's also an indication that bridging to print effectively in a digital environment is still kind of an awkward compromise for those focusing on getting content management systems to do all things for all content producers and all audiences. The online print edition looks kind of "blah", fairly indistinguishable from the "channel" version of the same content.

If print is a premium product appealing to a premium audience part of the trick to bridging to online audiences would seem to be to create a more elite look and feel for that audience - even while getting born-online content to do what it does best. I think that this will get to be a little more intuitive divide as executive -oriented publications start to use print more as a personal concierge-like service. Executives should be able to carve out their own weekly editions out of the online content that matters most to them - and then have access to those selected sets as either an online set of "bookmarks" or in an actual printed publication. This would allow for far more high-value targeted advertising for print editions, and send up rates considerably. Instead of guessing which articles would be of interest to someone in print you'll know that every article had some level of interest for your target audience.

This is where B2B media will be headed over the next five or so years, but we're nowhere near that just now. In the meantime Aviation Week's new portal at least sets the groundwork for keeping the doors open to a print-oriented audience while focusing on becoming cost-effective online publishers first and foremost.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Headlines for 25 January 2007

Earnings: DJ 4Q06: Online Ads Up 23 Percent; WSJ/Barron’s Online Subs, Revenue Up
YouTube-Google Video Plan Reveals Itself
SIIA Announces New $1 Million Corporate Anti-Piracy Reward Program for Content
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Massive online content revenues on the horizon - EC
PC Pro
Google to Distribute Music Videos with AdSense
Microsoft v. Wikipedia: Round 2

Best Practices
Flickr announce Machine Tags
Danny Ayers
Forrester Creates a Model to Measure Blogging ROI
Micro Persuasion

Cool Tools
Plain Cellphones Can Overachieve, With a Little Help
The New York Times*

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Deep Web Technologies' Founder Attends Signing of Global Science Gateway Agreement
PR Newswire
Time Sells 18 Titles to Bonnier
WSJ Online*

Products, Markets & People
AVIATION WEEK Relaunches Website
PR Newswire
Congoo News Portal Debuts with 25,000 Outlets
Kintera Announces LiquidScore for All Kintera Sphere CRM Users
Groople to expand its social networking/collaboration capability
Eye for Travel

"Star Wars Kid" Meets Top 40 Hits: "Box in a Box" Soars up the Charts

When we reflected on the "Star Wars Kid" phenomenon four years ago we may have seemed a little far-sighted to be talking about average people becoming content producers who could create global hits virally through social media. I noticed a clip in YouTube today coming up next to one that a friend had sent me that underscores just how powerful the trend towards everyday people cutting their own channels to fame and fortune has become. What I found in that list of links was the new hit song and video "My Box in a Box", dreamed up by some folks in Philadelphia, PA in response to a Saturday Night Live parody (explicit lyrics).

MBIAB marries pop music with a video lip-synced by someone who happened to be available for video production. The video hit YouTube about a month ago and has had over 1.3 million downloads. It sells over at Music Freedom for 79 cents, where it became the number one song sold through the download service. There's a MBIAB weblog, of course, as well as a MySpace page a Wikipedia entry and a Second Life avatar. In the works: a book? The actual box used in the video was sold on eBay for $1,500, with proceeds donated to charities. Radio stations are playing the song and guest appearances on MSNBC have not hurt the phenomenon's popularity:

Compared to the millions that media companies are making off of their own stable of stars MBIAB is a tiny thing, but it's these kinds of phenomena that will add up over time and define the core of the content industry as a whole. While music companies and other content licensors are wringing their hands over DRM and other "how to we keep the old model working" concerns all of the infrastructure to create, distribute, popularize, monetize and merchandise media through online content services are all in place and working quite well - albeit with a very different definition of success.

It's not as if these things haven't been done reasonably well in the past: looking at the heyday of an earlier generation of pop stars such as Buddy Holly and Loretta Lynn the entertainment industry has strayed far from its ability to develop "long tail" content into major hits. Instead mass media has evolved into a hyper-tuned model for squeezing out every last drop of revenues and public interest from the most narrow of hits vehicles - call it top four instead of top 40. With so many different channels and contexts through which to develop the value of content most media companies are spinning their wheels trying to build walled gardens of pampered stars whose endearing qualities are oftentimes about the same as anyone else's, even if their lifestyles aren't. Thanks, MBIAB crew, for showing the way to effective monetization models - and thanks ever so much for putting your box in a box.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Headlines for 24 January 2006

Profit Down, Outlook Up at Yahoo
The New York Times*
Is this the end of the scholarly journal?
Christian Science Monitor
Push 2.0: Big Brands Line Up To Deliver Content Directly To Windows Vista Desktops
Information Week
Murdoch Joining With Chandlers On Tribune Bid? Would Be Minority Partner: Report
Google Adds Blog Search OneBox
Google Operating System
Let's get together: New Google Groups out of Beta
Google Blog
Editor James O'Shea unveils Web initiative at LA Times
The Los Angeles Times
InfoUSA to run Super Bowl spot
BtoB Online
Murdoch Said to Join Tribune Bid
The New York Times*
Grooveshark, first LEGAL P2P music service?
Zero Paid
Talks Signal Distaste by Chandlers For Tribune's Newspaper Business
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
The Impact of Web 2.0 on Business Portals
B-Eye Network
Study: B-to-B Publishers Produce 33 Percent More Webcasts in 2006
FOLIO: Magazine
Markets for Rights Do Not Make a Wrong

Cool Tools
Microsoft Working on 'Immortal' Content Storage Project
AP via Editor & Publisher
Near-Time Enables Ad Hoc Group Organization via Task Management

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Sonic Foundry Unveils Enhanced Multi-Modal Search Capabilities on Mediasite.com
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
Autonomy Introduces the Intelligent Contact Center
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
Dow Jones to Enhance Factiva SalesWorks for AppExchange
DMN Newswire

Dead DRM Walking: Content Controls Facing Online Reality Checks

The New York Times reports on the realization dawning in the minds of music publishers that they may have already lost the battle for chokehold DRM controls built into music downloads. Online music download revenues were up 80 percent last year over 2005 income, but slowing from 2005's growth and not closing the gap in dimming CD sales. Independent labels are thriving with non-DRMed content, a factor also as online audiences begin to develop new allegiances based on accessibility to music within a community: if you can't get your friends excited about something, why bother? Music companies need to face the fact that they have lost the battle for distribution control of over-priced archives and bow to the realities of a marketplace that places a different kind of value on content in social contexts. Music has always been a social medium, and needs to return to its roots as something that's completed by the participation of an audience.

Meanwhile, over in video-land Ars Technica highlights a new lightweight system for "watermarking" video downloads that doesn't use heavy DRM lock-out controls but simply makes it possible to identify who's really paid for content. This "do the right thing" approach parallels efforts by Copyright Clearance Center and iCopyright with text-based content to alert users as to when copyright needs to be respected and to provide copyright holders with options as to how content can be monetized on its way from one person to another without getting too intrusive.

Content relicensing is the huge missed opportunity in the entertainment industry,which still insists that classic spoke-and-hub marketing campaigns are the way to build interest in content. Print publishers have seen these opportunities for some time but are only beginning to look at them more seriously as primary revenue opportunities as subscription and ad revenues become more challenged. As context rights become more important than pure copyright perhaps more publishers of all kinds will take a look at the opportunities that exist from allowing users to be active agents in content licensing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Headlines for 23 January 2007

Record Labels Contemplate Unrestricted Digital Music
The New York Times*
China's Baidu receives license to provide news
Reuters via CNET
Microsoft Shows Off AdCenter
Search Engine Watch
Smaller Customers Cite Complications Upgrading To New Yahoo Ad System
Taking the Copyright Initiative
EContent Magazine
RSS Company Syndicate IQ Shuts Down
Read/Write Web
Recovery at FT puts Pearson's Scardino in the pink
The Independent
For Sale: p2pnet
BBC talking to Google about providing video on YouTube
International Herald Tribune
Real estate agents hang blogging signs
Chicago Tribune
Blogging bosses: A doubtful direction for the Davos demographic
The Economist

Best Practices
How To Sell Your Photographs Online: A Mini-Guide To Monetizing Your Camera-Phone Content
Robin Good
Building a perfect storm of journalism and multimedia
USC Annenberg OJR
Companies gain by sharing intellectual property, finds survey

Cool Tools
IBM Launches Enterprise Social Networking Suite; Microsoft Offers To Migrate IBM Customers Off It
Read/Write Web
Google Personalized Homepage Now Displays Feed Snippets
Micro Persuasion
MindTouch Unveils World's First Commercial Wiki Virtual Appliance
BusinessWire via ADN

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Newstex Adds 164 Business Blogs From b5media to Newstex Blogs on Demand
Wikio Secures $5.3 Million in Series A Funding
Elsevier selected as new publisher of Annals of Vascular Surgery
Penton Media Stockholders Approve Proposed Merger with Prism Business Media Holdings
Allscripts and Wolters Kluwer Health Partner to Deliver Clinical Information to Physicians
PR Newswire

Products, Markets & People
ProQuest Announces SIRS WebFind Part of SIRS Discoverer; Adds Newspaper Content
EContent Magazine
WhitePages.com Launches New People Search Application
Searching Scholarly Tables, Figures, Graphs, and Illustrations with CSA Illustrata
Information Today, Inc.
LexisNexis Names New Leader of Government and Academic Markets
BusinessWire via ADN

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Portals 'R Us: Yahoo Gens a Personal Finance Portal out of Spare Parts

Whatever Yahoo may or may not be it has certainly become the master of generating topic-specific portals that put most online consumer magazines to shame. The latest is Yahoo! Personal Finance, a well-designed amalgam of news, expert and user opinions, how-to-guides, calculators, glossary terms and data to support focusing on personal banking, budgeting, real estate and retirement planning. It's mostly content repositioned from other tabs in the Yahoo! Finance portal, but with enough of a specific focus on personal finance topics to draw a different find of audience. There's plenty of content from third parties but also a notable layer of Yahoo-specific content - including user-generated questions and answers from the Yahoo! Answers community relating to personal finance. Yahoo! Answers has become the social media "glue" for a number of Yahoo properties, well-integrated into the Personal Finance pages.

As with other Yahoo properties of this kind, the filtering of content is a little suspect. Some Answers topics are spot on but others such as "What's the best answer in a job interview when they ask 'What is your greatest weakness'?" seem kind of off-topic. And does a personal investor really care about a news story on "Berkeley Design Automation Opens Subsidiary in Japan?" Sometimes filler for "freshness" defeats the purpose of a portal's focus. Nonetheless Yahoo does this kind of topic-centric consumer media aggregation very well indeed. As major portals such as Yahoo aggregate not only third party content but unique user-generated content and their own editorial offerings it will become increasingly hard for traditional consumer publications to build up enough editorial "oomph" to compete with online offerings that can be sliced and diced dozens of different ways with minimal investment.

Headlines for 19 January 2007

Yahoo Personal Finance to launch
BitPass. DeadPool.
Google Kiosk Could Lead To Mall 2.0
Bill to Treat Bloggers as Lobbyists Defeated
New Vista protection might hit playback quality
Dominion Post via ContentAgenda
New Wiki For Online Leaking
Science Friday
NYT CEO: Company has no intention on going private
Yahoo Denies Violating Belgian Copyright Law
WSJ Online*

Best Practices
The Streamburst antipiracy plan: don't use DRM
Ars Technica
Digital archivists look to blue content, Flash for tips

Cool Tools
Searchles Launches Push-me/Pull-me Widget
SpotBack - a customizable news aggregation site
Download Squad

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Nstein's content management software to manage and deliver the digital assets of media company
CNW Group
United Business Media Takes Controlling Interest in RISI, Inc.
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
ebrary Partners With YBP to Distribute eBooks to Libraries Worldwide

Products, Markets & People
LexisNexis Launches New Estate Practice Product to Select Markets
New ProQuest Civil War Era Collection Combines Unique Primary Sources Online
PR Newswire

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Last Round of Musical Chairs: Soft Tribune Bids Portend Duller Deals

The Wall Street Journal (subscription) and others provide details on the Tribune Company's efforts to sell off their media holdings - and they aren't pretty. The bidding power The Chandler family and Los Angeles businessmen Ron Burkle and Eli Broad have bids that are little more than current market value, well below expectations, while The Carlyle Group seems to be focusing on their television holdings. This is hardly a rousing endorsement for the value of Tribune properties, but more importantly seems to point towards the end of the line for the recent round of "musical chairs" of newspaper M&A. With a Democratic Congress expected to look at media outlet holding rules afresh, recent moves towards "synergies" in markets may face fresh scrutiny - and further demotivate investors looking for scale to overcome the limits of collapsing traditional media markets.

In the meantime the bloodletting at major media companies steams on as they try to come up with margins that seem reasonable to their investors. Ann Moore let go 289 from Time Inc. worldwide to focus more resources on online operations, even as other print-oriented news outlets pursue cutbacks. At some point the question has to be asked: how much of this is pushing talent away from major media companies altogether to create new competitors? Some layoff strategies seem to be focused on the older hands who, in addition to being pricier, were squeakier wheels regarding the quality of editorial output suffering in the transition to multiplatform content delivery.

Many of these sacked writers and production hands may have had skill sets less attuned to multiplatform content generation, but some who were truly interested in good editorial quality are likely to resurface in their own Weblogs or via new startups. It's a bit like the Tsar in World War I sending the serfs out to the front lines of the battle with rifles, only to discover that at the end of the war these discharged veterans turning on them in full armament to foment the Russian revolution. In the push to make the numbers work for deals and impatient investors, media organizations are forgetting that "surplus" talent can fuel the production of competitive content inventories far easier than in the past. It's no longer a closed-system game, a factor that will be one of 2007's major reality checks. Deal-making is not likely to come to a screeching halt this year, but expect a lot more scrutiny as to whether media companies pushed hard enough early enough to make a graceful transition to more profitable and well-placed online operations.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Headlines for 18 January 2007

Lobbying backlash could hit bloggers
Time Inc. to cut 289 jobs
Tribune May Let Bidders Make New Offers
WSJ Online*
VNU Changing Name to Nielsen
FOLIO: Magazine
Speculation Continues On CBS-Google Media Auction
A closer look at effects of micro competitors
Lucas Grindley
HD-DVD copy protection in tatters
The Internet Gets America's Vote
Sci-Tech Today
Apple iPhone to Generate Nearly 50 Percent Margin
PR Newswire
Year-to-Date Book Sales Flat
F.C.C. Chairman Says Rules Bar Satellite Radio Merger
The New York Times*

Best Practices
The Double Standard on Blogger Compensation
Micro Persuasion

Cool Tools
Yourtown geotagged now viewable: The Era of Sentient Things

Deals, Parnerships & Sales

USA.gov Goes Live with Next-Generation Government Search Portal Powered by Vivisimo and MSN Search
National Library of Medicine adds Vivisimo search
InfoWorld via Yahoo! News
Davenport & Company Selects Wolters Kluwer Financial Services' BasisPro
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance

Thomson Business Intelligence Realigns Assets, Selling off NewsEdge and Profound

This doesn't seem to have hit the news wires yet but it's public on the Thomson Business Intelligence site (link) . Key sections:
After carefully analyzing our product portfolio, we have decided to realign specific services within Business Intelligence Services. Our goal is to best align our products and resources to the markets and customers we serve...We have determined that our Broker Research and Insite services are best aligned with Thomson Financial, the Thomson business unit that is a recognized leader in financial information and business intelligence....We are selling Market Research (Profound(R)) and NewsEdge. We are currently in discussions with potential buyers and will keep you apprised of our progress.
This seems to parallel the realignment of Thomson assets in the education sector, pushing some assets back towards financial, legal and STM verticals where they're best used and ceding the rest to more effectively positioned business information competitors. Unfortunately Thomson Business Intelligence never quite coalesced into the integrated offerings for market verticals and functional verticals that other business information offerings have formed over the past few years. Instead the individual cultures and architectures of each of the product offerings under the umbrella were never put aside in full and wound up being an "old" Thomson division of standalone offerings under a common sales umbrella.

This is all for the best in the long run, but especially in the instance of NewsEdge you have to wonder what could have been done if product politics had been put aside and it would have been positioned as key infrastructure to make Thomson's licensed content assets more accessible to a wider corporate audience. As it is too much time was lost, so it's up to someone else to consider what to do with NewsEdge's infrastructure in an era in which news monitoring is shifting to online services and more specialized and powerful enterprise business intelligence services. There will be takers, but probably not at premium prices. Best of luck to everyone in this deal, in the end better things are bound to happen as a result of this move.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Headlines for 17 January 2006

Companies Vie For Ad Dollars On Mobile Web
WSJ Online*
Yahoo down and out again?
Silicon Valley Sleuth
Newspapers See Success in Moving to Blogs
Micro Persuasion
Pay-Per-View Journalism -- A Distraction Waiting to Happen
New Assignment
Bloggone! Ennui and exhaustion are idling some online opiners
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel
Recording Industry Reaches $2B in Digital Music Sales
Tech News World

Best Practices
The Art, Science and Business of Recommendation Engines
Read/Write Web
Public Libraries, Private DRM
Wired News

Cool Tools
Compare web site popularity with Compete
Some Bling for Your Blog
The New York Times*

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
Bowker's Global Books In Print(TM) Named Database of Record for Microsoft's Live Search Books Online
BusinessWire via ADN
Corbis Selects SchemaLogic for Enterprise Business Semantic Management
M2 Media Group Acquires BlueDolphin.com
PR Newswire
Brightcove Raises Another $59.5 Million In Third Round; NYTCO Among New Investors
Wolters Kluwer Financial Services Acquires Banconsumer Service, Inc.
Serials Solutions Selects SeaTab Software for Library Data Management Project
PR Newswire via Yahoo! FInance
Near-Time Gears Up for Growth with $2.25M in Funding
WRAL Local Tech Wire

Products, Markets & People
ebrary Launches New eBook Ordering Platform (eBOP), Integrates with Leading Book Distributors
Limelight Networks Unveils Terabit Per Second Content Delivery Network for Media & Entertainment
PR Newswire

Thomson Scientific Announces The Availability Of EndNote Web Within ISI Web Of Knowledge

MIVA Launches Publisher Ad Network
Media Buyer Planner
CMP to Move Intelligent Enterprise Magazine to Online-Only Product
FOLIO: Magazine

Wikiseek Leverages Social Media to Power Web Searches. Kind Of.

TechCrunch notes the debut of Wikiseek, billed in its salesmark as "A better way to search Wikipedia," but positioned for much more. Wikiseek searches return a tag cloud of topic categories related to search terms, followed by summaries of key matching articles from Wikipedia on the left and sponsored links on the right. But below the key articles are other possible links of interest, including content on the Web to which Wikipedia articles link. From that perspective Wikisearch is perhaps a baby step towards the vision provided for Jimbo Wales' Search Wikia concept, also known as "Wikisaria," which would power a more Web-centric search engine using human intelligence gleaned from Wiki technology.

Wikisaria sounds like a very interesting project, but in the meantime Wikiseek is at least a better tool for searching Wikipedia - kind of. In searching for the term "content" on Wikiseek the page for this topic in Wikipedia did not appear in the first three pages of search results: by contrast a search on Google for "content" returns the Wikipedia page for "content" in its first five results. Wikisearch's failure to list this term may be due in part to it being a "disambiguation" page, which provides links to a number of possible articles that relate to this word. Still, for a quick lookup it's not a very satisfying conclusion. But many searches on Wikisearch do provide useful results - and less frustration than Wikipedia's hit-or-miss native search feature.

Given Wikipedia's primary role as a standalone reference source it's not clear that it will ever have the breadth of links out to the Web to make this a completely satisfying place to start a Web search. But at least it does provide a view on Web content that is heavily filtered by people who care about specific topics who don't have any particular revenue strategy in mind. Compare and contrast this to a service like About.com, which provides articles written by compensated docents who focus on creating content with outgoing links that's more advertising bait than definitive reference content - and no on-site search tool to cruise those outgoing links.

There's a lot more potential for people to use Wiki technology to provide a guide to interesting Web content on specific topics, but I am a little skeptical that Wiki technology will have any fewer limits in this regard than social bookmarking systems or other services that can be harvested for understanding what's important to users on the Web. The opportunity to scam and pollute a social media service with bogus or inferior links is difficult to control in general and likely even more difficult for a user-edited reference system that's trying to scale for picking out the best of everything on the Web.

What you will wind up with in all likelihood is a search tool that is, like most social media tools, reasonably thick in a few specific topic areas and very thin in the majority of topics. I am not sure how that scales into a competitor against Google, which already uses algorithms to take into account trustworthy link recommendations. But it may not have to: providing a unique filtering experience for the Web is just as important as providing a "me too" alternative source in the competitive battle for better search tools. We'll be seeing more of social media tools being leveraged to power search this year, but expect an evolutionary step at best towards more interesting search paradigms.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Headlines for 16 January 2007

Wikipedia Search Engine WikiSeek Launches
Filesharing site wants its own micronation
UPI via Content Agenda
Odd Couple Ponder Bid for Tribune
The New York Times*
Guided tour of Netflix Watch Now service

Best Practices
Marketers Get Weak Signal from Users on Cell-Phone Ads
Media Shift

Cool Tools
Tubes - Revolutionary New Personal Social Networking Application
Toshiba Matsushita electronic paper alternative hits mass production

Deals, Parnerships & Sales
mdog.com First to Offer Mobile Web Versions of eBay, craigslist, Wikipedia, Citysearch and MySpace
PR Newswire via Yahoo! Finance
VNU Partners with Burrill & Co. to Form Life Sciences Media Group
FOLIO: Magazine

Products, Markets & People
Industry Moves: Peter Horan Leaving AllBusiness.com To Head IAC's Media And Advertising Group
Blackwell Publishing Revamps Online Delivery Platform
LexisNexis Releases Congressional Hearings Digital Collection

News Analysis - The Real-Time Web: Content at the Speed of Today's Online Publishers

News that the New York Stock Exchange may cut a deal to bring real-time trading information to Google Finance is bound to cause quite a stir, but the fact of the matter is that NYSE and other sources of real-time information are late to the Web game. While Wall Street huddled down and focused on ensuring sub-millisecond delays in trade tickers the rest of the world was out building news and other business-ready content on the Web that's in real-time feeds as soon as it's posted online. New services are sprouting up to take advantage of this phenomenon, a trend that's likely to shape many enterprise-ready information services.

Click here to read the full News Analysis

Sunday, January 14, 2007

About Time: Google Moves to Introduce Real-Time NYSE Market Data

Many years ago I was involved in developing some of the first feeds of stock ticker data to crawl across the bottom of news television broadcasts. They worked well enough, but the stations that we worked with were supposed to put a message at the bottom of the screen saying that the data in the feeds was delayed fifteen minutes. The message was there...kind of. It got squeezed off the bottom of most television screens, by "accident." And most viewers were probably none the wiser.

Today most individual investors tracking their stocks know very well what "real-time" data means and they demand it whenever they can - for a price. Now Google has announced a pending deal to bring real-time market data from the New York Stock Exchange to its Google Finance online financial information service at no charge to its users. Google Finance has been maturing quite a bit since its rather spartan introductory days, providing a rich array of statistics, feeds, analytics and portfolio tracking tools to help investors sift through investment management decisions. But providing a real difference that would budge users from other long-established financial portals has proved to be elusive.

If the SEC approves the deal it could be a very compelling push to move those investors over to Google. With news sources proliferating on the Web there's much more market-moving information available to the typical online user that's available to them at the same time as financial professionals receive this information, so moving NYSE markets in line with this expanding array of news sources would seem to give them an advantage with online investors as it tries to shore up its position as a premier global marketplace for securities.

But the real reason why this seems palatable to NYSE at this point is that the "real-time" stock trading information that users will experience on Google is not the same real-time experience that professional traders in global investment banks have at their disposal. With mere sub-millisecond delays in the information from exchanges received at major financial institutions - and their ability to execute trades on that information via extremely powerful automated trading facilities - even marginal advantages in delivery speed are enough to ensure significant profits for the inside players. So moving to "real-time" information for consumer investors - at some presumed price to Google - still ensures an inside market while encouraging individual investors to feel that they're more on top of the latest market data. It's a win-win for NYSE and the major banks - and a potential coup for Google. Opening bell, here we come...