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Dec 22 2005
Yahoo! Launches Open Shortcuts
Yahoo! has launched a new service called Open Shortcuts, according to SEW, that allows users to create custom search commands. According to Yahoo!, this will let users: �� Instantly navigate to any URL on the Internet �� Easily recall common searches on Yahoo! �� Quickly search favorite sites �� Jump start frequently used Internet applications

The feature is basically an alternative to bookmarking, in which the Yahoo! search box becomes a command field for taking you directly to a site or completing any of the functions listed above. It requires some setting up, but savvy Web users and the Yahoo! faithful will find it useful. The tool basically falls into the category of creating stickiness among users and is designed to drive traffic and increase search market share. It also falls nicely into Yahoo!��s product strategy for personalized tools (i.e., My Web, Yahoo! Toolbar, My Yahoo!, etc.), which it hopes will attract and keep users after they��ve spent the time to set up, customize and get accustomed to them. We expect no abeyance of such product launches, and their integration into the larger Yahoo! machine, as the feature race among portals continues��
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  10:58 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 22 2005
blinkx on the Go
Web-delivered video is hot right now, with a number of video start-ups having launched or received funding and with the iPod video making it the newest sexy thing to cover in the media. The latest move comes from online video search service blinkx, which has debuted a service to port its Web search and delivery platform to portable media players such as the iPod video. Known as To Go, it will allow users to search for video content and video blogs (or ��vlogs�� as they have recently been christened in Internet parlance buzz-wordage) and download them to portable media players.

The software boasts the ability to format the footage for a number of different devices and save certain search terms as ��channels,�� which are updated automatically to mobile devices when they are connected to users�� computers. For iPod users (who represent a majority of the portable media device market), a good question is, what does this offer that the iTunes music store doesn��t? The answer is that blinkx claims to index a wider range of content that includes, most notably, vlogs and the long-tail video content throughout the Web that the comparatively limited iTunes video library has thus far excluded in favor of licensed professionally produced shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost." iTunes monetizes licensed content by charging for downloads, while blinkx will likely integrate an ad-supported model that is more in line with its online strategy. Time will tell how it will do this on portable devices and if it has what it takes to survive an eventual shakeout in the online and mobile video space. So how does this relate to local? Search in this case takes place online, and results are then downloaded to a mobile device. But looking out further this could integrate with mobile local search when blinkx or someone else develops the search process for the mobile device itself. There are, of course, hardware restrictions and other challenges here, but the pulling in of video (VOD) and the geotargeting opportunities with mobile devices could create a powerful combination for contextualized local advertising to be delivered alongside video content. There are lots of moving parts to such a scenario (hardware, software, content aggregation, ad distribution) that could take a while to coalesce, but the local implications are there.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  10:49 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 22 2005
Well, It's Official

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  10:41 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 22 2005
More on Google-AOL
Om Malik takes an interesting look at the Google-AOL deal, including its implications for Video. Among other things, the deal will give a boost in the arm to Google��s beleaguered content aggregation efforts for its video search. It has thus far trailed most other video search players (including blinkx, Yahoo! and AOL itself) in acquiring content. This deal gives it a backdoor into the content libraries of AOL��s corporate siblings that include HBO, CNN and New Line Cinema.

Or as Om put it: Google stands to make a lot of money from video advertising over the Internet... They have been fighting an uphill battle to find a toehold in Hollywood, and well there is no one more old school Beverly Hills than Time Warner. I think this will be the thing that helps the company get some traction for its Google Video business. IM integration with AOL��s pervasive AIM network is also a huge plus, and a key source of traction in competing with MSN-Yahoo! in the IM space. From Om: An interoperability between the two IM networks could soon be enhanced to facilitating between AIM and GTalk users. Add to the mix, other SIP based clients that can talk to GTalk, such as Gizmo Project, well there is an informal VoIM network that starts to form. Google is very ambitious about Gtalk, and I can bet they are working on developing a bigger ecosystem than most people realize. BusinessWeek��s Olga Kharif also points out that this could not only stimulate more Google Talk usage, but it could go a step further toward interoperability between other IM platforms. Until now, many Internet users might have hesitated to use Google's VoIP service for fear that they'd be left out of the communications loop since all of their friends used AOL Instant Messenger (IM). Now, they won't have to worry about that. Longer term, I believe that this agreement will push all VoIP industry heavyweights to make their IM-like VoIP services interoperable. Remember, years ago, if you were a Verizon Wireless customer, you could only send short text messages (SMS) to other Verizon customers. You couldn't send an SMS to Cingular customers. That hampered SMS adoption, and so, eventually, all wireless service providers got together and allowed for cross-carrier texting. An interesting concept indeed.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  10:33 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 20 2005
New Year's Resolutions for Newspapers
Editor & Publisher columnist Steve Outing lists his New Year��s resolutions for the newspaper industry here. It��s a good summary of many of the challenges facing the newspaper industry, and it echoes much of our own analysis and recommendations to the newspaper industry over the past year including;

--��Become the primary social-networking venues for their communities�� Not only do users benefit from such social networking, but the publisher gets to collect all sorts of useful information about its users' interests and preferences, a la MySpace. That can be mighty useful for targeted-advertising purposes.�� --��Add an open comments thread on top of all content published on your news Web site. That means that for every story you publish, there's an easy way for people to post their feedback, questions, etc. Add this to every article, every photo... If you can't even open up to the public enough to allow an open feedback mechanism, then I'd say you're still at odds with the basic tenets of the Internet.�� --��As Google so aptly demonstrates, the real future is in automating the advertising marketplace. I'm not saying to fire all the sales reps. But I do think there's much to be gained by automation used to attract new advertisers to the newspaper brand��Newspaper Web sites can be and have been used to attract advertisers who previously have had no relationship with the newspaper. Lower ad prices to reach audiences online have opened up the newspaper brand to local merchants who previously found newspaper advertising too expensive, or who only wanted to reach a small segment of the community.�� --��Publishers of daily newspapers may well keep some categories as fee-based advertising -- just as Craigslist is free but charges for job listings in a few cities. They will figure out how to get money from people who place free ads by offering paid "upsells" that improve a seller's chances of success, such as premium placement, enhanced photos (slide shows, larger images, etc.), video, etc. They will sell advertising around the classifieds "content"; for example, for classifieds search results on household appliances will be paid ads for appliance retailers and repair shops. And they will learn how to make money from the transaction itself between buyer and seller.�� --��We all know the "problem" with newspapers: Young people aren't picking up the habit of print readership, because they're too distracted by the Internet, cell phones, Playstations and whatnot. So let's resolve to reach them where they are: on the Web, on instant messenger services, on cell phones, on Playstation consoles, etc�� I think we've reached the point in the evolution of the news industry where online is equally as important as print.�� It��s an interesting list that will be the subject for discussion well into 2006. Look for more newspaper industry analysis at the Kelsey Group��s Drilling Down on Local Conference this March, and in an upcoming white paper.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  15:58 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 16 2005
Online Newsrooms Merge With Print
Following in the footsteps of The New York Times, USA Today announced that it will merge its print and online newsrooms. Both moves came out of a recognition that online news traffic is growing and that news distribution should be platform agnostic. Just one day earlier, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell brought up the opposing view in her weekly column, stating that her paper��s print and online operations cooperate but maintain very different voices, readerships, advertisers and competitors.

These are all true, although it can be argued that some of these factors shouldn��t have a direct impact on the actual production of news. And though online and offline news operations face different dynamics, timing is an issue on many stories for which Web distribution becomes a competitive advantage; parallel production of such stories online and in print might not be as efficient as a unified newsroom. However, The Washington Post is a unique case because it is a local paper whose online component is read widely and in much greater volume than print. Its daily circulation is 671,322, while the Web site's reach is 8 million unique visitors per month -- more than 6 million of whom are outside the D.C. area. If any paper could make a case for keeping the online and offline operations separate, it's the Post. Advertising becomes a challenge in such a situation because the paper��s content is read nationwide, but newspapers rely greatly on local advertising and classifieds. Caroline Little, CEO and publisher of Washington Post.Newsweek Interactive (WPNI), gave a keynote address at TKG��s ILM:05 conference that hit on this point. Eighty percent of the Web site��s traffic comes from outside the D.C. market, Little said, which is why it launched two homepages (one local and one national), user reviews, blogs and other personalization tools to get users involved. It also requires site registration, which is a perpetually thorny issue among online news sites. Little believes this drives repeat use through opt-in e-mail alerts for vertical content categories that link to WPNI content, as well as the all-important targeting it allows for advertisers. Whether to combine online and print newsrooms, divide online and offline operations further, or distinguish between local and national distribution will have a lot to do with reach -- national, local, online and off. The Washington Post is a rare case that excels at all of them. Determining this reach and how it plays into the ad targeting tools used by many newspapers, will help them form ad distribution strategies, which will in turn affect where they position their assets. Expect more newsroom, operational and distribution strategies to change at major papers, as online traffic continues to grow, targeting capabilities improve and online strategies evolve.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  17:10 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 16 2005
Brightcove CEO Predicts Future of IPTV
There will be a ��wholesale rewriting of the television business,�� according to Jeremy Allaire, founder and president of online video distribution service Brightcove (which recently raised $16.2 million from AOL, IAC/InterActiveCorp and others). Allaire spoke at the Syndicate conference in San Francisco this week about the advertising and distribution environment that Internet-delivered video will bring. His thoughts mirrored many of the points raised in The Kelsey Group��s recent White Paper on IPTV. Allaire outlined the costs and challenges involved in airing video content with current cable and broadcast models. A new program, for example, costs about $100 million to create, distribute and market in a cable broadcast environment. Even after these costs, a channel can be buried within a 500-channel lineup.

He contrasted this with Web video distribution, which will leverage the medium��s already existing standards such as search engines and RSS (content could still be buried on the Web to use the above example, but it will be easier to find by the right people, i.e. those who are interested in finding it and whose explicit interest is valuable for ad targeting). There will also be cheaper and more attainable production technologies in the hands of independent producers and lower distribution costs when inventory is no longer scarce. ��Today, the global video industry is by far the richest, most powerful cultural force of all media, and far larger than any other segment. But it's a business based on scarcity: There's a limited number of movie theaters, a limited amount of broadcast spectrum, a limited number of devices attached to the broadcast stream," said Allaire. He compared this with Web-delivered video, which will be ��an open publishing and distribution model, where no content owner needs to get carriage to be available globally." In the meantime, many existing media companies are beginning to create Web channels to feed the demand for online, on-demand video. The combination of high production value news, entertainment and sports and the user-generated and "long tail" content made available by Brightcove and other content aggregators including AOL, Yahoo! and Google, will increase the available video ad inventory. The increased supply will not only decrease its cost -- bringing it in reach of local and SME advertisers -- but the inventory can also be highly targeted, given that it is being pulled in by users. Aggregate behavioral tracking will also create valuable opportunities for local and national advertisers, akin to the search marketing opportunities available to them on the Web. There are, of course, many moving parts to the above equation, including hardware, software, content aggregation, service providers and ad provisioning. When and how they will coalesce is the big question, which we��ll attempt to sort through in the coming months and years. Stay tuned.
Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  16:07 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

Dec 13 2005
Comparison Shopping Engines Outpace Online Retailers
Nielsen/NetRatings reported that traffic rose 61 percent at online comparison shopping sites in the week ended Nov. 27, compared with the week ended Oct. 30. Regular online retailers by comparison saw a 35 percent rise in traffic during the same period. Top comparison shopping sites, including, and Shopzilla, accounted for 0.3 percent of all Internet traffic -- a 24 percent increase over the same period last year, according to Hitwise. These three comparison engines were also ranked 12th, 13th and 14th, respectively, by Hitwise in the category of most-visited shopping and classified Web sites last week (EBay, and took the top three rankings in that order). Comparison shopping sites have traditionally received most of their traffic from search engines. The growth so far this holiday season suggests that they are either marketing more effectively with search engines, or they are gaining loyalty and exposure among some users who are navigating directly to them.

Blog: Local Media Blog
posted by  Mike Boland at  11:57 | permalink | comments [0] | trackbacks [0]

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