16:24 PM

Aggregate Knowledge and Proximic: Optimizing Web Sites With Relevant Content

I recently met with Aggregate Knowledge and Proximic, both companies have technologies that serve up relevant content to web site visitors, especially on media sites. Relevant content means visitors are likely to stay on the site and that provides another chance to try and monetize that visit.

- Aggregate Knowledge, based in Silicon Valley, could be called "Aggregate Web Analytics" because it watches the behavior of web visitors and then guides future visitors to the same pages that most other visitors visited. It can also guide visitors to higher margin pages that the web site owner is seeking to monetize.

"Most sites have click through rates of abut 2 percent, with some of our clients we can get 22 per cent click through rates," said Paul Martino, CEO of Aggregate Knowledge.

Kleiner Perkins is the main investor in the company. Randy Komisar, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said that the web is changing. "It is not about search it is about discovery. Search is only good if you know what you are looking for, 'discovery' means serving up content that is relevant and that you didn't know was there," said Mr Komisar. (Kleiner Perkins was an early investor in Google.)

- Proximic, founded in Munich, Germany tells a very similar story of being able to serve up relevant content on media sites. It claims a radical search technology that indexes pages by "patterns" not by links or keywords. Pages with similar "patterns" represent similar and relevant content.

Philip Pieper, CEO of Proximic, says that the beauty of their approach is that their index is easily scalable and very compact. "We have even written our own disk operating system, to speed up searches. We believe that our technology can help media companies better monetize their online operations because we can provide relevant content," said Mr Pieper. The index can be held in just a few gigabytes of memory, it could be loaded onto a flash drive. Proximic says that its search technology could be run on a bank of iPods.

Proximic is working with Nature magazine to boost its online revenues, and also with the British newspaper "The Independent."

Foremski's Take: They may get there in different ways but Aggregate Knowledge and Proximic serve up similar messages to web site owners. They promise to improve online revenues by making the content on those web sites more relevant to visitors, including the advertising.

And neither of them collects personal data on visitors. This is a key advantage because privacy issues are only going to get bigger and messier--you don't want to be in a business that relies on collecting and using personal user data.

Media sites in particular, need all the help they can get to monetize their online operations. However, making sites more "sticky" produces value only if the site publisher can monetize those extra clicks. And there aren't many media sites that are good at that. Even if media sites doubled their online revenues, it is still not enough to support their businesses as they transition from traditional media to digital media.

The success of both companies is tied to the ability of their customers to figure out their own online business models. Yes, Aggregate Knowledge and Proximic can help in that regard, by serving up advertising that pays better, and is more relevant to visitors, but that will likely not be enough to help media sites make money, and survive.

Working with online retailers to help optimize their sites is likely to produce longer lasting customers than in the media sector.

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Please See Information Week: Aggregate Knowledge Aims To Be A Mind Reader On The Web

Proximic empowers the web publisher for the post-2.0 world

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