NetContent, Inc. (http://www.netcontentinc.com), known for its Intellisearch technology, has launched Scoop (http://www.scoop.com), a new business information service that offers news alerts and publishing capabilities. The subscription service is aimed at sales and marketing/communication executives. Content suppliers include ProQuest, Thomson Gale, and NewsNow, a U.K.-based Internet news monitoring service. The Scoop Publisher functionality enables group distribution of retrieved content through an RSS/newsletter/news feed mechanism.
The site states that "Scoop is the price-performance leader in research and alert services." But Shaun Carrigan, CEO of NetContent, explained:
"Our market is not people who want to do research. It is people who need to focus fast, share key information with others, and go on with their day. Our targeted customer is an individual or group with revenue responsibility in a mid-market company."
He stressed the importance of the product's distribution capabilities. "Scoop represents the logical evolution of business news monitoring and research services," he said. "Actionable information must be shared with the right people to be truly valuable."
Scoop has three primary sources of information:
ProQuest—provides more than 2,500 newspapers, magazines, trade, scientific, and technical journals
The Web—NewsNow indexes content from 12,500 online news sites
Thomson Gale—supplies company profiles and research reports on more than 465,000 companies around the world
NewsNow offers its own free news portal site (http://www.newsnow.co.uk), but advanced search capabilities (including phrase and full-text searching) are only available through its business subscription services.
Intellisearch (http://www.intellisearchnow.com) is NetContent's existing executive alert service that monitors 2,500 print publications and more than 10,000 Web-based publications. It provides personalized alert management and is offered in private label service by resellers including Smart Online. NetContent is the supplier to the new Find.com business service of FIND/SVP that launched in June 2004 (http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbreader.asp?ArticleID=16421).
The core search and alert functionality of Intellisearch and the content base were reworked and upgraded for the new Scoop service. Carrigan said the company is phasing out Intellisearch as a product but preserving the trademark to identify its technology. "We will be supporting existing Intellisearch customers while we transition them to Scoop.com over time."
The personal subscription cost for Scoop is $29.95 per month, with enterprise licensing available. A free 7-day guest pass is available, but users need to register and provide a credit card. According to Carrigan, the basic version of Scoop includes search access to company profiles and a la carte access to company background reports, which are not available in Intellisearch. Upgrades allow unlimited access to reports and content publishing.
I pointed out that, in comparison, HighBeam Research, which provides access to eLibrary and Eliyon proprietary content and searches the Web, offers more content (including a 20-year archive) and costs just $19.95 per month. In response to this, Carrigan offered the following differentiators:
- Scoop offers more business-oriented content than HighBeam.
- Scoop is focused on current content that is more likely to be of active business value.
- Scoop integrates Web content with proprietary licensed content in one view/one alert.
- Scoop provides access to detailed company research reports (Thomson Gale).
- Scoop provides a publishing function to feed selected content to Web sites, workgroups, and newsletters.
- Scoop can be configured in industry editions with custom taxonomies.
- Scoop components can be integrated into private label or third party enterprise applications, such as CRM.
- Scoop is extremely simple in design and can run effectively on a wireless PDA.
In my admittedly limited testing of the service, the Scoop service seemed more like a beta release. Although it let me choose publication type and publications, it then didn't show me what I had chosen on the search page or in the results. And, the searches were not iterative—I couldn't search within the results; instead, "refine search" dropped me back to the initial search box. The service could benefit from some user interface work and search refinements. It does offer both basic and advanced search options, including a handy "Search Builder" function that helps users create structured Boolean queries. Tabs offer easy access to specific functions, including company searches, alerts, and publishing. Another tab presents users with a Topic Library with subject categories so they can drill down to more specific topics to create a search or alert.
Analysts from Outsell, Inc., the information industry advisory firm, in commenting on the launch in an e-brief, stated:
"The challenge for any service like this will be gaining mindshare among potential individual users who are happy with the open Web content they're able to gather for free."
NetContent, Inc., a privately held company based in Nashville, was founded in 1999.