Content aggregation solutions move beyond the RSS feed
As content demands increase while editorial staffs shrink, digital media companies are continually on the lookout for new sources of content. While aggregating third-party information has helped fill the content coffers, many publishers are looking to move beyond simple RSS feeds, which deliver headlines but little else in terms of the quality and relevance of the information being served.
“Aggregation of content only gets you so far,” says Danny Briere, CEO of mBLAST. “You need to have great mashups of data and show some unique vision with that content to continually draw readers.”
Mblast is one of a handful of service providers offering content aggregation solutions that extend the concept of basic news feeds and focus on quality over quantity. These solutions are in response to the growing belief that some editorial control over third-party content sources is necessary for media companies to differentiate their websites and attract unique audiences. For many companies, the trick is balancing the efficiencies of automated content delivery with the costs of organizing and presenting that information in a unique manner.
“[When it comes to] the end-to-end full cost of getting that content, analyzing it, and processing it into your CMS or other destination, the human costs can be enormous relative to the content costs,” says Briere.
Some questions to ask when evaluating aggregation solutions:
- What role can editors play in curating the third-party content?
- What types of content is included in the service (e.g., articles, white papers, press releases, rich media)?
- How is the content filtered (e.g., by keyword, by category)?
- What’s the pricing model (e.g., setup fee, monthly/annual license, tiered models based on volume/category type)?
- How well can the content be integrated into my site design?
Here is an overview of some services to consider:
Daylife: This service enables publishers to mix and organize their own archived content with information from other Web sources or content partners. Daylife's SmartContext adds contextual hyperlinks to keywords in articles that lead to Daylife topic pages created from online sources. Publishers can also create their own topic pages. Clients include USA Today, NPR's online Topic Index and WashingtonPost.com.
Inform: Inform offers a semantic Web solution for finding, organizing and linking content, based on some high-brow taxonomy, mathematics, library science, natural language processing, linguistics, and engineering methods. Clients include The New York Daily News, Newsweek and Condé Nast.
mBlast: Search, retrieve, post is mBLAST's three-pronged mantra. Its feeds include news articles, blog posts, buyer's guides, press releases and other content types, which is vertically categorized and can be filtered by type, source, keyword and other variable fields. Pricing ranges from $995 to $7,995 per year.
Moreover: This aggregation service goes global with its Newsdesk solution, which offers 750,000 articles and posts covering more than 100 countries and in 50 languages. Options for publishers include headline feeds, customized search, and news portals.
OneSpot: OneSpot's software tracks more than 400,000 feeds for story linking patterns and keywords to provide “publishing as a service”. OneSpot claims that the service has increased page views for some clients by 10-20 percent and decreased curation work by 90 percent. Customers include WSJ Online. Pricing begins at $150 a month for 25-50 articles per day on a single topic.
Publish2: “The Web's largest newsroom” in October won the first Gannett Foundation Award for Technical Innovation in the Service of Digital Journalism. The company's dual purpose is to help journalists share information via “link journalism” (curating online news and information) and “social journalism” (curating social media post feeds).
Ripple6: The service combines content management, analytics and social media capabilities to distribute content through users' personal networks and encourage user-generated content. Ripple6 OnDemand, launched in August, is geared toward smaller publishers and marketers. Honey Magazine used Ripple6 to relaunch as an online entity.