When news aggregation site Inform.com launched last fall it had more horsepower and bells and whistles than the majority of news aggregators out there. The problem was consumers didn’t care. The site, while powerful, was more complex from a user perspective than the more straightforward Yahoo! News or Google News. And it didn’t have a brand like the New York Times or Washington Post.
So wisely the site has reinvented itself as a B2B platform, even though it’s still available as a stand alone destination. Inform is now selling its capabilities to newspapers and others (TV affiliates, vertical sites, etc.). It offers a powerful search engine and structured content database, which captures professional news content, blogs, audio and video, and brings that to newspapers and others.
In other words, anybody using this platform becomes an instant news aggregator. Inform can also bring broader web content into results. That makes it a potential competitor of enterprise search vendors like FAST and Planet Discover. The content is presented either in search results or as part of a module that appears beside news stories. Inform also embeds links within stories to related content.
The idea is that a better search experience and deeper content will drive more page views and more ad revenue. Also, by offering more content (even from third party sources) users will be more inclined to come back to the local newspaper site. I haven’t seen the integration in action yet — only screenshots. In theory, I agree — but it all depends on the user experience.
Announced customers are Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, The New York Sun, NewsOK.com (Web site for The Oklahoman newspaper and News9, KWTV CBS Affiliate), The Huffington Post, The Deal LLC, and NameMedia. NewsOK.com is the only active site as of today. (the entire left nav is Inform-generated content.)