OneSpot is an interesting company and it is good news to read that they have successfully raised $4.2m in capital.
There are a bunch of companies in the “related content” space and what is interesting is that there are several deployment models that not only compliment each other but also offer unique monetization options. OneSpot is one such company and like DayLife, NewsGator, Zemanta, Sphere, and Inform, they offer a service that combines revenue opportunity for publishers and content owners with compelling user experience.
“Obviously, the business guys ask, ‘Are we getting more visits, are people staying longer?’ but from the editorial side the question is, ‘Does this make my site a better place for my audience?’” Cohen said. The Journal found the answer was “yes,” because it meant Journal readers saw even more relevant and comprehensive news coverage, coverage that wasn’t limited to what the Journal had the resources to cover. The fact that Journal editors only had to put in a few minutes of work a day to make it work didn’t hurt, either.
[From OneSpot raises $4.2M for customized news aggregation » VentureBeat]
One of the challenges with delivering good related content is having access to a broad range of full text content sources. It’s really difficult to do related content with partial text excerpts because in order to drive a search function you have to have good entity extraction in order to know what to drive the search for.
I’ve been using a wide range of these services and find two weaknesses in most of them, the first being surfacing of related content that is basically a bunch of copies of the same source. I don’t want to read 10 articles that are carbon copies of one another, I want 10 articles that are related to the source but offer a range of perspectives.
Secondly, quality of the surfaced articles is inconsistent and more significantly the quality doesn’t improve as a function of how I use (click) the delivered content. I don’t think active rating (thumb up/down) is the answer, but my clickstream should offer enough behavioral cues that can be fed into the search engine to refine the search results. However, before any of this could happen there would have to be integration with user profiles or at least a cookie based approach.