Jinfo BlogAggregation is hip again

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By Tim Buckley Owen

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A month after IRN’s bullish prediction that reference data would lead the way in future information industry growth http://web.vivavip.com/forum/LiveWire/read.php?i=83 comes further confirmation of the trend from Outsell. Search, Aggregation & Syndication: 2007 Market Forecast and Trends Report http://www.outsellinc.com/store/products/526 forecasts that SAS will continue its rapid growth at other segments’ expense. Outsell’s $2,495 report confounds the conventional wisdom of a few years ago that traditional hosts such as Dialog, which for decades presided over walled gardens of proprietary content, would sooner or later be stricken by the arrival of direct online publishing via the web. In fact, although there are many more aggregators in the field, aggregation of others’ content into a coherent whole seems to have a bright future. While bank shares continue to plunge in the fall-out from the Northern Rock debacle, Forbes Magazine has been reporting http://digbig.com/4trer that Reed Elsevier has been upgraded by investors from ‘neutral’ to ‘buy’. ‘Reed Elsevier's business model is largely subscription-based and it's in defensive sectors, scientific, academic and legal,’ Forbes reported Dresdner Kleinwort analyst Usman Ghazi as saying. Plus, of course, it owns the veteran aggregator LexisNexis. Why should aggregation be back in vogue? Part of the reason may lie in the rush by news providers such as the New York Times – and in all probability the Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch – to an advertising rather than a subscription-funded model. According to the Financial Times http://digbig.com/4treq online advertising spending should continue its strong growth even if a US economic downturn squeezes the advertising sector as a whole – indeed, pressure on companies to cut costs if the economy softens could even hasten the switch in spending from traditional media to more targeted and measurable digital forms. (Ironically, the FT placed this report in its paid-for subscriber-only section.) Such a strategy would surely fail, though, if a free-for-all in financial content republishing scattered the online advertisers’ target prospects among a plethora of small scale aggregators, resulting in too low a click-through rate to advertisers’ sites from each one. Critical mass is surely essential in an aggregator; enter, therefore, Google’s new duplicate detection feature. According to Google News Business Product Manager Josh Cohen http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/original-stories-from-source.html duplicate detection means that, instead of offering links to 20 ‘different’ articles which actually use the same content, Google will show the definitive original copy and give credit to the original journalist. Leading agencies such as Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and the UK Press Association will be among the main beneficiaries; they’ll now be hosted on Google rather than linked to it. One likely effect will be to reduce the number of clicks through to those who merely reproduce the agencies’ content at second hand – including some newspapers perhaps?

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