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Web 3.0 & News Corp (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 12th 2007

Web 3.0 Framework discussion

News Corp. has got its Context right. Be it sports (FoxSports or Scout), entertainment (Fox or AmericanIdol), Social Networking (MySpace), games (IGN or GameSpy), Men (AskMen) or Photo-sharing (Photobucket) the Company is bang on in terms of Context.

If I am looking for men’s fashion and lifestyle information, there is no better place than AskMen. If I want to upload and share photos with my friends then Photobucket is the place to go to. If I want to know about the latest gaming reviews and previews then IGN is really helpful. Similarly, if I am looking for quality information on college football or basketball then is the place.

Almost all the sites have very high quality content and this is the strong point of News Corp. One can easily conclude that being in the media business for so many years has helped the Company gets its content right.

I will not discuss MySpace over here, as all of us are familiar with its Community tools. But if you look at the other sites from the News Corp. stable be it FoxSports, AskMen, IGN, Photobucket, or Rotten Tomatoes, they all have very good interactive and community features allowing the users to communicate, share and rate various pieces of content and express their views on them. has compelling interactive content that goes beyond TV and allow the viewer a more in depth, personal experience with their favorite characters and shows. AmericanIdol offers exclusive content including hundreds of original videos, thousands of behind-the-scenes photos, downloads, original music, style columns, dynamic games, contests, blogs, and personal photo galleries. providing users with the opportunity to sing their favorite songs, record their personal performances and send their personalized renditions to their friends.

MySpace through its partnership with Apple’s iTunes and Snocap provide music downloads. Direct2Drive offers movies, comic, animations, games and TV shows for downloads. Photobucket offers online print services through a partnership with QOOP for personalized mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, photo books, luggage tags, calendars, greetings cards, posters, etc. Gaming sites like and Direct2Drive offer downloading of games starting from $19.95 per game. Nonetheless, Commerce has never been a media company’s strong suite, and it is certainly not so for News Corp. I would say, the weakest link in the Web 3.0 story for most
of the media companies will be in the commerce area.

I like the personalization features on IGN, especially My Wishlist and My Collections. But these are only baby-steps. The entire world of Artificial Intelligence that can predict, recommend, pre-synthesize queries, match people with similar interests, and preempt undesirable content to be served … oh, we are far from that promised land.

Vertical Search
Photobucket’s search engine allows users to search for photos, images and videos. I wish Photobucket allowed search by location, tags, date and photographer like Flickr. The other sites have normal search engines and News Corp. will do well to introduce vertical search in its other sites, including Sports.

Business Model
The Company earns revenues from advertisements posted on its sites and the download of movies, music, videos and games. Photobucket charges hosting fees. Some others have various levels of subscription services, especially the newly acquired Wall Street journal. My thesis is that WSJ’s subscription business ought to go, as the advertising revenue potential of that particular property is so much higher.

Throughout the media industry, however, there is a business model tension at play right now: Subscription or Advertising? Subscription limits traffic, and traffic limits advertising.

My personal bias is that this debate should resolve squarely in favor of traffic and advertising, and away from subscription. But, it will take some time to fully play out. I give News Corp. 18 months to sort through their various properties, and make the call to
cancel the subscription revenue line for each.

(To Be Continued)

[Part 1]
[Part 2]

This segment is part 3 in the series : Web 3.0 & News Corp
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Web 3.0 & News Corp (Part 3) | Myspace World Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 2:40 AM PT