may be a prince, not a king
Examiner Technology Writer
World Wide Web, the slang for stories and news reports is
"content" -- the digital form of what keeps the ads from bumping
into each other in magazines, newspapers and television.
reading this on the Web, you're not looking at a story; you're
looking at content.
early days of the World Wide Web (some five long years ago),
the mantra was "content is king." Web sites with the best
content were going to be the virtual rulers of this new medium.
one at the time could figure out how to make a lot of money
from content Web sites. Advertisers couldn't "wrap their minds
around" (as they said at the Internet start-ups) the concept
of how ads on a computer screen were supposed to get users
to buy things.
a popular award-winning literary Web site called Word folded
for want of funds, sparking cries that "content is dead" on
Amazon.com and other online sites that were more catalog than
content, selling stuff directly to Web surfers. This online
retailer movement, collectively known as e-commerce, pushed
what remained of content off the stage, the better to make
room for sites hawking everything from best-sellers to lingerie
and pet food, much to the delight of investors who poured
billions of dollars into these e-commerce sites.
so slowly, content Web sites are finding a new foothold in
the online world. While observers say it won't exactly be
a king again, content does stand a good chance of being a
interest, always a weather vane for a coming Web fad, has
which publishes articles and essays for the baby boom generation,
has opened in a bustling operation behind the deserted Federal
Mint building on Fifth Street near Market. The site has received
$4.5.million from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, a $550.million
venture capital fund.
are back on the Web looking for compelling information," said
Donald Van de Mark, myprimetime's co-founder and editorial
director. "They've already had the buying experience. Now
they're looking for more."
content is making a play again," said Joey Anuff, co-founder
of Suck.com, a daily satirical Web site that recently received
an undisclosed round of funding from Conde Nast, the folks
who publish such magazines as GQ and Vanity Fair.
co-founder of Spy magazine, along with publishing luminaries
like Michael Hirschorn (Esquire, New York) and Deanna Brown
(Entertainment Weekly, Brill's Content) are getting the content
buzz going on the East Coast by announcing that they've received
$5.million in seed money from the venture capital arm of the
Chase Manhattan bank to start Powerful Media.
Media will soon unveil a Web site dedicated to reporting on
the behind-the-scenes goings-on of the media world, including
music, film and the growing Web content industry.
every expectation and belief that the rise of online content
is now due," said Power Media's Michael Hirschorn. "People
were scared off by the business model of content for the Web,
but they're coming back."
sites will tell you their numbers are way up these days.
is a San Francisco Internet company that distributes third-party
content to various subscribing Web sites -- the Web's version
of an old-fashioned press syndicate, which distributes columns
and news stories to newspapers and other print outlets.
says it is posting stories to 104,531 sites, up from the 20,000
sites it serviced just this past February.
wants content," said iSyndicate co-founder Allison Hartsoe.
"They can't get enough."
Hartsoe: "Sites realize that having content gives a site a
sense of being something more than just someplace that's selling
an online brochure or catalog just doesn't cut it anymore."
around, however, the content-filled sites are taking a few
lessons from their e-commerce brethren.
journalism sites such as Salon.com and Slate, which weathered
some hard financial storms, are offering ads that act as fast
digital doorways to e-commerce sites like BN.com, the Barnes&Noble.com
book-selling site, and Neiman Marcus.com, the tony department
store chain. Salon and other sites take a cut of products
sold through these ads.
of the long stories that appear in printed magazines, Web
sites are posting shorter dispatches in keeping with the still
difficult task of reading long stories on a computer screen.
levity and utility" are the bywords, said myprimetime's Van
Winblad's Ann Winblad said the new content sites will practice
"contextual commerce." She points to ehow.com as an example
of this new content model. At ehow, another Hummer Winblad
investment, a visitor is shown how to, say, carve a turkey.
Along the way, ads pitch a new carving knife or a mail order
content experience has to be very, very good," cautioned Winblad.
"Those sites that try to cut corners there won't make it."
sites are also offering their own products, such as quick
updates beamed to small hand-held computers and cell phone
screens and subscriptions to longer versions of articles and
the killer moment is when a guy sitting in a business meeting
with his Palm Pilot and gets a bulletin that his company has
just been sold," said Hirschorn. "That's a very powerful idea."
added Hirschorn, "is when content is going to be running things