The upstart search service Northern Light appears to have pulled off a cross-marketing coup with its latest business agreement. On June 1, Northern Light Technology, LLC announced an agreement with The New York Times Electronic Media Company to place fixed links to Northern Light's service within The New York Times on the Web (http://www.nytimes.com), providing users access to business news and research information.
Northern Light's research engine, which searches both the World Wide Web and Northern Light's Special Collection of more than 3,400 premium sources, will be accessible from several areas of The New York Times on the Web. The Northern Light Business Research Center (http://www.nytimes.com/partners/microsites/northernlight/final/) is a micro-site specifically created by Northern Light as a supplement to The New York Times on the Web. Launched from a fixed advertising position on The New York Times on the Web's Business section, the Northern Light Business Research Center features business and technology news as well as a "Business Topic of the Week," both of which users can further research using Northern Light. In addition, users can further focus their research on any of 26 specific industries and business functions using Northern Light's new Industry Search.
Northern Light (NL) will also host a research tool (http://www.northernlight.com/nytimes) accessible from the search and results pages of The New York Times on the Web (http://search.nytimes.com/search/daily/). This site allows New York Times on the Web users to further research issues of interest covered in New York Times articles from both the Web and Northern Light's Special Collection of business periodicals, trade journals, health publications, and newswire databases. From the New York Times results page, the user is invited to "Click here for more information on xxx." The search terms are then automatically run in NL, without the user having to retype terms.
Searchers wanting to access the content of The New York Times print edition will still need to search it on the Times Web site. The publication is not available on the Northern Light service. The New York Times on the Web claims to have 2.2 million subscribers to its service, which represents a lot of potential eyeballs and new users for Northern Light. Barbara Quint, editor of Searcher, commented that they have "parlayed their ad space into a working tool—a wily group, these Northern Lighters." Northern Light does not release figures on the number of active users or enterprise subscribers to its service.
Deal Making and Enhancements
Northern Light Technology, LLC, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded by a management team of librarians, business-to-business, and Internet professionals who recognized the need to fill the gap left by search engines and private research services, according to the company. Northern Light introduced its research engine in August 1997. Since then there has been a steady stream of announcements as NL forged agreements to add proprietary content to its service. This latest agreement with The New York Times Electronic Media Company was preceded by an announcement in mid-May of an important deal with Netscape.
Under that agreement, Northern Light will provide business research services with access to thousands of industry and trade journals plus content from the Web as part of Netscape Netcenter's Business Journal by NewsEdge. Business Journal by NewsEdge (http://www.netscape.com/netcenter/businessjournal) is powered by NewsEdge NewsPage. So NL is building some important alliances and partnerships, as it continues to add to its collection of resources. Securing the NYT deal must be seen as a feather in its cap—and a thorn in the side of the traditional services.
I was pleased to notice search refinements showing up on the NL site as well. Full Boolean search capabilities are now available. The Industry Search option includes fields for specifying beginning and ending dates—a big improvement. I spoke with a Northern Light representative who allowed me to preview their new Power Search form, which should be available sometime in late June. The search form allows users to specify publication, range of dates, subjects, language, type of source (journal; news archive; personal pages; educational Web site; commercial, non-profit, or government Web site), and limit documents to type of information (company, directories, press releases, reviews, Learning materials, For Sale, Job listings, Event listings). Results can also be sorted by date, rather than ranked by relevance.
After reading the latest news on the WorldCom/MCI merger at the NYT site, I ran a search in NL. On June 2, I was surprised to find no documents retrieved with a date after late April. When I questioned the NL spokesperson, she assured me that they were making some changes to their technology and that within the next four weeks, there should be dramatic improvements in the currency of their information. Given the fast rise of this company and its responsiveness to user requests for functionality, I would expect this to improve as well. Keep an eye on Northern Light. They know how to arrange deals.