PC Magazine and ZDNet
Your Vertical Portal
September 1, 1999
are you, really? Are you very young? Very old? A multimillionaire?
A New Yorker? A San Franciscan? A gardener? A passionate soccer
fan? A mining engineer? A full-time homemaker? A day trader?
do you care about? What do you need to know about? What do
you want to find out first when you wake up in the morning?
Do you flip on the Today show? CNBC? ESPN? Regis and Kathie
why am I asking all these questions? Because, heaven help
us, the paradigms are shifting again. Now it turns out that
the Web portals with which we're all familiar (Yahoo!,
Excite, and the like) may be too general-purpose
to hold your interest and too broad (or horizontal) to attract
targeted advertising money.
the solution? Vertical portals: Web sites that cater to very
specific types of people who then attract specific types of
advertisers who lust after the chance to reach a targeted
audience. Chances are that in the near future, there will
be a portal for you no matter what your special interest is.
course, there's a middle ground, too. A site like ZDNet, where this column lives, is what
I'd call a horizontal-vertical portal. It obviously caters
to a special interest group--technology fans--but it does
so in a broad enough way to attract millions of visitors a
month. If you really care about the high-tech news, reviews,
and downloads that ZDNet offers, it can make an excellent
starting page, especially because you can also get stock quotes
and other mainstream Web services.
example: MyPrimeTime.com, a site that doesn't
even exist yet. This effort, the brainchild of former CNNfn
executives, is designed to be the place where baby boomers
start their day. Billed as a "personal trainer for your life,"
the site's mission statement says that its target audience
is "Baby boomers -- not just because there are nearly 80 million
of us with trillions of dollars and no real home on the Web
--but because at mid-life it's natural to reassess who we
are and where we're going. Because we're living longer, healthier
lives, baby boomers need tools and information to make decisions
in order to create the worlds we've dreamed of. That is our
mission." Yeah, maybe. But I bet those trillions of dollars
are the real impetus. So why not a site that addresses the
issues that most concern baby boomers? Heck, as long as it
provides stock quotes and news headlines, it'll certainly
qualify as a vertical portal. As a borderline boomer myself,
I'm curious to see if this site will capture my attention.
When I wake up in the morning, do I ponder my personal baby-boomer
issues from the get-go? Not really, but maybe I'll start.