Tag Archives: Wiki

Optini: Inserting Marketplace ‘Connectors’ on Popular Sites

What if consumers could personalize the ads and content they see when they open utility sites such as Google, or portal sites such as Yahoo? That’s the idea behind Optini, a new12 person company based in Utah that has developed the concept of Optini Vu System “browser connectors.” These enable users to put Fandango listings in their Google page, or ESPN scores into CNN, etc.

The concept is not entirely new. Add-ons and extensions have been increasingly commonplace for tool bars and now Google’s SideWiki. But Optini President John Wright says that connectors enhance the concept, since they are available on an opt-in basis from the consumer end, They can also be integrated beyond Web browsers for use with iPhones etc.

On a local basis, Wright envisions their use with Internet Yellow Pages and others. They can reach “an entire generation that never uses email,” but relies instead on messaging and other insert media.

While popular sites such as Google or CNN may not like sharing their own pages (and advertising impressions), Wright says such sites really don’t have many legal options to fight it – in fact, Google’s Side Wiki has set its own precedent. It is really the consumer’s page, he says, noting that opt-in happens “after the dom,” rather than “before the dom,” and no cookies or beacons are involved, so it is not any of the site’s business.

Of course, one tends to pause about a technology that allows a consumer to enjoy one publisher’s expensively produced content and/or search results, while displacing any chance that the publisher can get revenue from advertising. But then again, who is to say that a company like Optini couldn’t actually work with publishers to enhance their own site?

Brownbook: Free Wiki-Based Directory Counts on Upsells

We keep going back to Clayton Christensen and his disruptive technology timeline…..and we really don’t see that anything in the local space truly qualifies as the disruptor (although Google is worth pondering). Still, they keep coming.

The latest contender is Brownbook, the free Wiki –based directory that lets anyone submit and edit a directory listing, adding information, recommendations and ratings. The service is based in the U.K., but now has 25 million listings spanning the U.S, U.K., Canada and Australia. More than half of its usage comes from the U.S. Users are free to submit listings in other countries as well.

Yellow-Wikis plowed some of the same ground in 2006 (and is still around, not “defunct,” as I initially wrote. see comment below). But the difference with Brownbook is that it is using the listings as an anchor for very low-priced SMB services. That makes it more like Merchant Circle and SMBLive’s efforts with BT Tradespace.

Brownbook started with a $17 “Customize My Page” package, where businesses can claim their listing and add and order a number of features (video, photos, map, etc.). It also recently introduced a $98 “Create My Website” deal.

Founders Dave Ingram and Marc Lyne, who come from the U.K.’s Scoot Directory, tell me that the service has done well already with specialized, non-local listings – an area that Angie’s List has started on as well. A hard-to-find Bi Fold Door listing in the U.K., for instance, resulted in $11,000 of business.

Ingram and Lyne calculate they would have a strong business if even a relatively small minority of listed businesses plow $120 into the page and website packages. And more offerings will come. They also hope to spur sales by offering a lifelong commission to users who spur sales via recommendations or reviews – an interesting concept.

Looking forward, the Brownbook people might hope to get enough mass usage going to really focus on local offerings, which will always constitute the vast majority of directory lookups. They are getting a lot of local usage via Google, where half of its listings are referenced from. But at the moment, the service is not a truly local offering.

So count me intrigued. I’ll look elsewhere for my plumbing emergencies. But it will be interesting to see if this takes off.