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Search implications of NYTimes + About.com

Nyt_home_banner_3The New York Times had the winning $410 million bid for About.com, a network of web sites that are maintained by approximately 500 experts in entertainment, retail, and other subjects. I think we'll soon see About content incorporated into news and article searches, followed by a national syndication/ad sales play.

This acquisition provides NYTimes with a rich library of reference content which appears to be ideal to provide context for article search results. Moreover, existing deals between the New York Times organization and other newspapers around the world provide syndication opportunities, which may ultimately pave the way for a very interesting local advertising network. (My thinking is modeled on the traditional ad insertion deals between national cable programers and cable multiple system operators.)

While it may be easy to dismiss About as a blog network wannabe, the initial training and consistency across About's sites - for example, their local guides - is harder to replicate. Mix in the learning over time and the countless discussions that must have taken place between guides on how to deliver the best product, and you have a hidden competitive advantage that might take years for someone else to discern. This has happened before - while with the cable industry, we tried to create our own TV Guide in Tulsa, perhaps not appreciating the nuances of the business.

Link: Washington Post article (registration required)

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