Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Online Publishing Strategies: Portals Are Over - The Future Is In Syndicating Context

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Conversational marketing and contextual advertising: these are the key trends to keep following if you are seeking to make more of your online publishing efforts. Or at least, this is how content media business expert John Blossom keeps seeing the future business of online publishing going next.

Photo credit: Marc Dietrich

It is in fact in the ability of online content publishers to create valuable content in context, out of millions of news, information streams, product announcements and great editorial and opinionated writing that is the true key value a publisher needs to provide next.

Context, context, context is the name of the game. Contextually relevant information to a specific audience or target group is what really makes a difference today. Not publishing twenty-five posts covering all kinds of technology news and announcements or by keeping strict control over your distribution and licensing deals.

Those assumed strengths, dictated by control and quantity variables are bound to loose steam, very very soon. Though you may eventually prove me wrong, I personally see some of the best known top web 2.0 web sites soon becoming a good example of this. In fact, while you may rightly look up at some of these as today content powerhouses, you will see how the breadth (quantity) and relative shallowness of their content strategy will likely become the very staple of their future gradual demise, relative to new, more focused and target-defined online outlets.

Online publishing success is clearly reserved for those that, by focusing on specific market segments and well-defined audience niches, will be able to provide syndicated context that provides much greater value than a thousand disconnected dots to the end reader.

Interestingly enough, advertisers in search of meaningful metrics are now becoming one of the key drivers for determining the next set of editorial formats for successful online content publishing strategies.

Intro by Robin Good

Photo credit: Eric Gevaert

Portals Passe?: Publishers Adjust to Metrics that Reward Contextual Content

by John Blossom

CNET News covers the first major ratings results from its revised audience ratings methodology at comScore's Media Metrix unit and the results are not altogether rosy for major portal providers.

According to CNET under ComScore's new qSearch 2.0, Yahoo lost market share from a year ago and is now at 23.5 percent for July, while Google gained share, reaching 55.2 percent market share.

The New York Times notes also a fall in's audience measurement from 15.3 million in its original February data to a revised figure of 13.2 million.

One of the key factors aiding Google in the new measurement system is comScore's inclusion of search queries initiated via Google's infrastructure through search partners, as well as queries into "universal search" categories such as news or images from a search engine's home page initiated off of an initial query.

All of this builds audience share, which despite protests from other portal providers about quality audiences is still a major factor.

The difference now, though, is that ratings companies are recognizing that in a world of embedded content, OEM relationships and mashups the "here" of content is less about who comes to your site and more about how your content gets in front of audiences in many venues.

Jeff Jarvis notes in a "portals are past" rant that it doesn't matter if you get 10,000 impressions on a site with an audience of 100 million impressions or from multiple sites with smaller audiences, which is somewhat to the point but misleading.

With advertisers focusing increasingly on conversational marketing and contextual ad placement the new audience metrics are rewarding publishers whose content can engage those audiences in as many finely defined contexts as possible.

The issue is less the total size of a portal's audience and more the ability of a portal to define the right audiences for advertisers.

It isn't so much a matter of "big is bad and small is good" as it is getting the right context for your audience no matter where they congregate.

This is where Google has done itself an enormous favor over the past several years in encouraging the use of its content via mashups, Google Co-Op and other tools that make it easy for both professionals and amateurs to use Google content in so many different contexts.

There is a lot to be said for the strategies of portals such as Yahoo! and to engage audiences more deeply at their own destination sites to build quality audience engagement but they have lagged behind Google in defining unique contexts for content beyond their portals that may be less heavily branded but of equal value to advertisers.

At publisher sites such as the problems are not so different, with a preponderance of traditionally syndicated content building up clicks but failing to produce enough unique content that can make a dent through their own syndication strategies to take advantage of new audience metrics.

In all of these instances Google gained an advantage by focusing on syndicating context rather than content, avoiding the expenses and lethargic pace of traditional content licensing deals in favor of making it easy for people to find anyone's content in the right context and to build additional and unique content around it.

This can happen on large portals or small portals - it matters not to Google, as long as it keeps growing.

We've long held that portal strategies were topping out, so none of this comes as a terrible surprise, but it's interesting to see how advertisers in search of meaningful metrics are now one of the key drivers that are showing the way to online publishers who may have doubted the value of Google's strategies to advertisers.

Traditional portals will continue to be important as branding mechanisms for content producers and marketers but the highly portable value of context is beginning to to carve away at the bottom line of portal producers.

Originally written by John Blossom for and first published as "Portals Passe?: Publishers Adjust to Metrics that Reward Contextual Content" on August 29th 2007.

About the author
John Blossom is a content media and business expert whose career spans more than twenty years of marketing, research, product management and development in advanced information and media venues. John Blossom has also been a key player in a number of ground-breaking Internet-oriented initiatives at Reuters, including the introduction of content management services and a global effort to integrate Internet-based information suppliers into the mainstream Reuters information services environment. You can follow Mr Blosson news radars on the business and trends of media content at where he maintains a daily news radar and highly respected news analysis blog.

John Blossom -
Reference: Shore [ Read more ]
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posted by Robin Good on Thursday, August 30 2007, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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