Recently the NAA (Newspaper Association of America) had a meeting in New York, about a state of their industry. While I didn’t attend, I am slightly familiar with what needs to be done. If the Newspaper is going to survive online and take online seriously, then they need to take web development seriously. Stop giving your data to third party vendors and paying them to access your own data in their proprietary web application. If you don’t want to build the web application, you might be able to find a open source solution.
But why are they using third party vendors?
- They don’t have to code, manage, modify the application.
- They can find something to fit their needs today (and switch vendors later down the road when someone else builds one better).
- Most of the time your data is hosted on another URL.
- Vendors will often reuse your data for their own national site (all the while getting paid by you).
- You are locked into their feature set and can’t add new features or modules.
- Too many applications to fit little niches from other vendors and no easy way to bring them all together.
This is a great business model. Get a customers data and have them pay you for it.
I figured I’d give some examples of third party vendors that get data from newspapers and reuse them on their national sites. Kaango is a classifieds vendor. They get data from newspapers around the country, however their homepage allows you to search for classifieds from around the country.
CareerSite is a employment vendor. CareerSite takes data from newspapers and redistributes it to NowHiring and to SnagAJob. A few months ago when you went to careersite.com it would go to nowhiring.com, however recently they changed it to look like a careersite template (its easy to tell its a template, because they always use numbers as a subdomain). Makes me wonder why they are hiding the fact of what they are doing? Now I’m not sure of what kind of contracts they have with the newspaper, but it seemed CareerSite had an awesome deal. I even saw a few Newspapers allow CareerSite to run Google Ads on their Job site. So not only were they getting customer data, they were getting paid for it and allowed to run ads on it! Doing a search on the Wayback Machine can prove all this. I also found out all those sites seemed to still be owned by PowerOne Media. So why do they use like three different names for the same service? Maybe its all legit in their agreements with newspapers, but if so the Newspapers are not doing themselves any justice by helping another website grab their data.
Why not build your own apps, add what features you want and when you want, work with your own nice templates, host them on your own domains and be able to remash up this data more easily with each other?
But it doesn’t stop there, there are countless vendors that do this for all sorts of things. Often times newspapers will use one vendor for a jobs app, another for autos, another for real estate and yet another for regular classifieds. Sometimes you will find even two applications being used for the same functionality but one will offer some special feature that the other doesn’t.
If the internet is the to be their saving grace they need to get on the ball rather than trying to take shortcuts.