A News Wire for One

By: Steve Outing

The Internet as a publishing environment is ideal for serving niche markets, as specialty news sites have spread throughout cyberspace. The traditional wire services have recognized this opportunity, as evidenced by Reuters New Media's latest offering, called Target News, a Web news service that can be tailored to the content offerings of a specific Web site.

But Reuters' Target News wire is likely not only to show up on news Web sites, but also sites of corporations that want to become a source of news for their customer base. According to Reuters New Media vice president of sales Jim Hohman, a typical customer for the service might be an auto manufacturer, who publishes an auto industry specific news feed on its Web site in order to keep people coming back to the site.

The implications of this new type of service could be significant down the road for the traditional news industry. For instance, in the auto manufacturer example, some consumers looking for auto industry news could turn first to the manufacturer's site rather than newspaper or trade publication coverage of the industry. All of a sudden, news purveyors must view corporations' Web sites as potential competing news suppliers.

Ask the cybrarian

Target News allows Web publishers to create a customized news service that is delivered in HTML format. Customers can choose from a number of pre-configured "baskets" of news, or they can create their own. Reuters "cybrarians" are assigned to customers to develop a profile that filters out specific news from Reuters' offerings.

The automatically selected news is filtered and extracted from a mix of all the Reuters general news and media services, some of the companies' corporate and equities services, and industry and company news sources. A client in the pharmaceuticals industry, for example, might create a custom wire feed that delivers industry headlines, company news, and reports about Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory activities.

Executive vice president Andrew Nibley says that the idea behind Target News is to "build a product that's a batch of one." He envisions selling the service even to competitors, because what each receives can be different.

The service is currently in beta testing, and thus far two customers have signed on: Meredith Publishing's @griculture Online Web site, and Inman News Features, a real estate industry news service and syndicator.

Hohman says he also hopes to find general interest news organizations that may want to create custom wires for different sections of their Web sites. A health care section could feature a medical Target News basket, for example.

The service doesn't come cheap. The basic rate is a $2,500 per month flat fee, plus a share of advertising revenues generated by the Target News service on the customer's site. For non-advertising-supported sites, a higher monthly fee is negotiated. Hohman says that for clients wanting several baskets, a discount is worked out.

Contact: Jim Hohman, onlinesales@reuters.com

A free customized news service

If Reuters' offering sounds too pricey, another option for getting an industry-specific news feed onto your Web site is Individual Inc.'s NewsPage Network Affiliate program. The NewsPage service provides a filter to news from some 2,500 industry categories selected from 630 news sources, which is housed on the NewsPage site. The Affiliate program lets Web sites publish daily industry-specific headlines on their sites, without charge; the headline links point to articles housed at the NewsPage site and branded by NewsPage. There's also a surcharged version of the service, which co-brands the articles as well, so that it appears that your service is actually providing the articles. Pricing ranges from $595 per month and up, with a $1,495 set-up charge for each industry profile created.

One world, two sets of ads

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition has begun "splitting" advertising between its Israel- and U.S.-based servers. According to Derek Fattal of the Post, the U.S. server at http://www.jpost.com is running advertising generated by the American Web advertising network DoubleClick. Meanwhile, the Post's Israel-based server, which is at http://www.jpost.co.il, continues to run advertising placed by direct sales made in Israel.

Visitors to the ".com" U.S. site see DoubleClick-placed banner ads at the top of pages, while on the ".il" Israel-based site they see several smaller ads for Israel-based companies. Fattal says the strategy is seen as a way to maximize their revenue potential, since Israel is a limited advertising market and because the majority of visitors to the Post's Web site are from the U.S.

Says Fattal, "Our difficulty has been that the income stream generated by our domestic market is such that in order to make advertising cost effective, we have been compelled to place a number of ad banners on a page. Whilst having a number of ads sharing a page may reduce click-over rates for our local advertisers, it does give them significant international exposure from our site that they are keen for us to provide, and which cannot be given by other Israeli sites.

"On the other hand, our method of managing advertising on our U.S.-based site allows us to compete for banner ads in North America, which is a much more mature market," he adds. "In short, we are hopefully creating a new stream of advertising revenue while continuing to serve our traditional advertisers here in the domestic market."

Content on both Jerusalem Post Web sites are identical, except for the advertising. The ".com" U.S. site was initially set up as a mirror Web site to give North American readers faster access to the Post's news online.

Contact: Derek Fattal, derek@jpost.co.il


From Dom Noth's latest Dom's Domain column, which covers the online copyright issue discussed earlier this week here:

"So the last thing the traditional publishing industry needs right now is to be seen as filing lawsuits right and left against independent nontraditional companies. It's a matter of picking your spots -- go after blatant copyright violations or spammers who clearly are injuring you and the public in a way that everyone can understand, not spending a lot of time on services where the legal issues are dubious or the injury is borderline. Negotiate openly, think creatively, sue as a last resort. That's my feeling."


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This column is written by Steve Outing exclusively for Editor & Publisher Interactive three days a week. News, tips, and other communications may be sent to Mr. Outing at steve@planetarynews.com

The views expressed in the above column do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor & Publisher company


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