Friday, September 21, 2007

Google as Portal, With a Twist

From The New York Times - We should be past the debate of a few years ago about whether Google wants to be a “portal”—in the sense that Yahoo and AOL offer sections after sections about various topics. After all, for many sites Google is an even bigger front door than their own home pages.

Still, when Google’s blog announced the company had created a page about the Australian elections, it seemed like an odd move for a site that mostly waits for its users to say what they are interested in. But Google’s Australian election page offers an interesting new take on what a portal can be.

It’s not a collection of content, but rather a collection of tools that display content. One item is a customization of Google maps that lets viewers explore candidates, district boundaries and so on. Another is a series of official collections of commercials and other videos posted by the major campaigns. | Read full article

Why Portals Are So Over at AOL

From The New York Times - ... In a world of search, social networks and other forms of browsing, portals don’t serve the same function they once did. (See this quick take on Google’s approach to portals.) If you look at the breakdown of the traffic on Yahoo or AOL, you’ll see that by far the largest number of page views is on their e-mail services. The various content sections, news, movies and so on, are still huge but they are losing share of mind to smaller sites.

For advertisers, that want to bring their messages to the broadest possible audience, the home pages of portals have been the best option. In a fragmented world, however, Mr. Falco & Co. realize that to offer advertisers reach, they need to add a network of smaller sites to AOL’s own properties. And so they are putting the company’s existing advertising business—built on its unit and other acquisitions—in the spotlight. (I still wonder whether they are undercutting AOL’s successful efforts to build new specialized sites like Engadget or TMZ.) | Read full article

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Film Still Popular Among the Pros

From The New York Times - Photojournalist Chris Usher usually relies on digital technology. When he wants something special, though, he reaches for a film camera.

''I shoot just as much digital as the next guy out of necessity,'' Usher said. ''I use film probably a third of the time, on personal projects 100 percent of the time. There's a richness and a depth of field that becomes more prevalent when you're shooting film as opposed to digital. It has a tangible feel to it.''

Even as the digital revolution is transforming photography, more than two-thirds of professional photographers in a survey released Wednesday said they still prefer using film for certain tasks, praising its ability to add an almost organic quality to pictures. | Read full article

Google Program Enlists Mini-Sites as Selling Tool for Advertisers

From The New York Times - Google is seizing on the popularity of widgets — small online tools that function like mini-Web sites — for its latest push into advertising.

The online giant will announce today a Gadget Ads program that will provide tools for advertisers to run widget ads in Google’s AdSense network.

Marketers can use space within these display ads on Google’s network to show videos, offer chats with celebrities, play host to games or other activities. If consumers like the widget ad, they can save it onto their desktops or on their profile pages online on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The new widget ads represent a more aggressive push by Google to attract big brand advertisers who like flashy ad units rather than the simple text ads commonly run in Google’s ad network. | Read full article

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site

From The New York Times - The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night.

The move comes two years to the day after The Times began the subscription program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for online access to the work of its columnists and to the newspaper’s archives. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators.

In addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free. | Read full article