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Web 3.0 and CNN Money

Posted on Friday, Mar 23rd 2007

We have reviewed Yahoo, MSN, Marketwatch and AOL’s Personal Finance offerings in the earlier posts and today we are going to take a look at CNNMoney from the Web 3.0 perspective.

CNNMoney is a financial news and information site similar to Yahoo, AOL and MSN Money and provides a host of financial tools and calculators. CNN and Money magazine have teamed together for this financial site and it leverages the two companies’ financial reporting prowess very well. The site has 10 broad categories – News, Markets, My Portfolio, Technology, Jobs, Personal Finance, Lifestyle, Real Estate, Small Business and Rankings.

The Personal Finance section of the site has 10 sub-categories – Retirement, Funds, Ask the Expert, ETFs, Top Tips, College, Insurance, Money101, Taxes and Portfolio. The site is comprehensive and matches its peers Yahoo, MSN, Marketwatch and AOL.

The CNNMoney site has good contextual news, information, tools, calculators and advice from top experts to aid users make an informed decision on their personal financial matters. While going through the retirement section, I noticed that the site has all the latest news and information on retirement, calculators to aid users plan their savings, debt reduction planner, expert advice on retirement planning and money management ideas. The retirement planner needs a separate mention over here. The Money101 is also a very interesting section that provides a step by step guide to gaining control of one’s financial life. The site is at par with Yahoo, MSN and AOL on context.

Like its peers the CNNMoney site provides high quality content by leveraging its parents (CNN and Money magazine) expertise in generating financial content. The site offers the regular news, information, financial calculators, mortgage and interest rates, insurance, mutual fund and ETF screener, expert advice, videos and free live portfolio management. For financial content including charts, data, interest rate the site has tied-up with BankRate, Yahoo Search, BigCharts, Marketwatch, ComStock, FT Interactive Data, Hemscott, Edgar Online Inc., FactSet CallStreet LLC, etc. The company also provides free newsletters on a variety of investment and personal finance topics. The company doesn’t have a transaction or bill paying service like some of its peers.

CNNMoney grants permission for certain articles on its site to be reprinted for which it charges $2 from academic institutions and non-profit organization and $3 from business houses or individuals. CNNMoney provides Electronic reprints of its text only articles to be posted on other company sites for periods up to one year and can be renewed in 3, 6, or 12 month increments. The site also provides custom reprints of content from the CNNMoney site for a fee and the charges vary depending on the content, size of the order, length of the article and photograph permission costs.

The site lacks the community features that MSN Money or even AOL Money & Finance offers. CNNMoney users can get their queries on various personal finance issues answered by experts in personal finance matters like Sivy on Stocks, Ask the Expert and Gerri’s Top Tips. The site offers Podcasts and RSS services for free. The site lacks a Personal Finance Blog with message board and forums. The site can provide community features like AOL’s BloggingStocks, or MSN’s Message Boards or like Yahoo Answers to increase the interaction of the consumers with the site. One easy way to do so would be to license a service like Seeking Alpha, which powers Yahoo’s Financial Blogs service in a non-exclusive arrangement.

My Portfolio allows free customized view of stocks held by an individual. My portfolio gets live automatic updates allowing real-time comparison of data. The users can customize the display of information on the stocks by choosing from three broad categories; Fundamentals, Market Information and Position Information. The users can choose from 12 criteria in Fundamentals, 14 options in Market Information and 9 in Position Information. The user can create multiple customized options by assigning different names to each option and view the portfolio as per the user defined custom criteria. The user can also subscribe for free alert on the latest updates of stock appearing on his portfolio.

Vertical Search
The Mutual Funds Screener offers vertical search option. Funds can be screened on the basis of three criteria, minimum required rate of return, performance over the past years and the expense ratio for that fund. College Cost finder allows searching schools and fees structure in respective provinces of the country.

Business Model
Advertising is the main source of revenues for CNNMoney. The site with over 8.2 million average monthly unique visitors is among the leading providers of financial news and information on personal financial issues to affluent consumers with median HHI of over $83,000 per annum. The site earns advertising revenues from both display as well as search-based pay-per-click ads. The Company’s display ad rates are $92 – $143 per thousand impressions, which is extremely high by any standard, and is a testimony both to how valuable the offering is to its users, and how precious the audience is to the advertisers. The site provides good contextual advertisement opportunities for insurance, mutual funds, real estate and brokerage companies. The search marketing is supported by Yahoo Search Marketing. The site also earns advertising revenues on its various email newsletters.

Overall, our Web 3.0 rating is as follows: Context : A, Content : A, Commerce : B-, Community : B-, Personalization : B, Vertical Search : B. This brings the overall Web 3.0 rating to a B.

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