Midweek News Roundup

Some news from around the local media world this week:

—The Washington Post’s Leslie Walker examines the trend of "hyperactive Web browsing" a generational usage pattern online that defines what portion of a Web page is viewed before a user moves on. This has some important implications for local search results in portal search engine results pages and the value of page real estate above and below "the fold."

—News aggregator Topix.net has added a new free classified feature to its site. The site will follow a growing trend in online classifieds by syndicating these listings to affiliate sites once they reach critical mass (it is currently receiving about 300 listings per day). It will eventually monetize these classifieds with advertising, most likely in a way similar to how LiveDeal.com serves contextual ads with its classifieds. We’ll examine this strategy and more trends in online news and classifieds in the third installment of our newspaper White Paper, due out at the end of the month.

—The ever-progressive (among its competitors anyway) WashingtonPost.com will become the first online newspaper to allow user comments that will be appended to articles that appear on its site. The interactivity will bring the site closer to the appeal and current cache of the blogosphere. It’s an interesting experiment that we’ll watch closely and also examine further in the aformentioned White Paper.

—ContactAtOnce! earlier this week launched a new platform that Web publishers can integrate with their sites to allow users to more effectively contact them. The tool is meant to capture more qualified leads among consumers for whom a direct contact increases the chance of a sale — a compelling value proposition. The press release is here.

—comScore has launched a new research product that will examine online influence on offline purchasing — a nebulous area that is very important to examine given the vast majority of local offline spending that occurs (60 percent to 90 percent of conversions from Web search happen offline, according to comScore). There are many technologies being developed to track the purchase funnel from online to off. These include, coupons, real-time inventory data and others that we’ll increasingly examine here and in written reports.

—The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that total U.S. online spending (not including travel) was $24.5 billion in the first quarter of 2006. comScore meanwhile reported the figure at $23.9 billion, a 22 percent increase over the same period last year.

—The Online Publishers Association reports that Web users are more attractive than television viewers in terms of buying power. Web users have an average retail spending power of $26,450 compared with $21,401 for TV viewers. The study also reports that the Web has become the dominant form of media in U.S. households.

—In case you missed it, Google announced yesterday that it will launch a free Web-based spreadsheet program, yet another shot at Microsoft’s core desktop software business. Microsoft itself is developing Office Live, an online version of its pervasive Office suite of products as part of its Windows Live network.

—PaidContent.org has good coverage of the Content 2.0 conference happening this week in London, including a session that examines the media preferences of teenagers, in this case straight from the horse’s mouth. An interesting read.

—The CNET media blog examines social networking trends and asks whether the runaway success of MySpace is simply a fad. We, along with many others, have questioned whether or not we are in a social networking bubble, given the amount of capital being thrown at the space and its importance/revenue potential (or lack of). PaidContent meanwhile reports on some of the marketing and monetization challenges of social networking that are being discussed at the Content 2.0 conference.

—Lastly, fast moving online classifieds pure-play Live Deal has strengthened its management team with new marketing VP and former AOL exec Steve Chaffin. The press release is here.

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