In-Depth Financial Content Marries Google's Massive Audience

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Google this week launched a beta version of Google Finance, providing financial news and data from partners with long histories in reporting on business, such as Reuters. Why would Reuters, a long-established news authority, want to subsume its brand under Google’s? Easy: No Web site drives traffic like Google.
With the Web site’s spare design and flash-friendly features, Google is hoping to lure some users away from rival Yahoo Finance, which attracted 12 million unique visitors in February, according to Nielsen/Netratings.

The deal marries Google’s massive audience with Reuters’ massive storehouse of in-depth financial content. Steven Schwartz, Reuter’s VP-general manager, consumer media for the Americas, explained that “the idea of the partnership was to allow Google to give an affluent and influential individual investor or business professional a little taste of some company information,” but when a user wants to “dive in deeper and wants a little bit more than just that little tasting, we will then provide them that experience [at Reuters.com].”

Challenging Yahoo
With the Web site’s spare design and flash-friendly features, Google is hoping to lure some users away from rival Yahoo Finance, which attracted 12 million unique visitors in February, according to Nielsen/Netratings.

“Reuters is definitely a very important partner for us in building Google Finance,” said Katie Jacobs Stanton, senior product manager of Google Finance. “We work with a number of different providers, but Reuters is definitely a special one in terms of providing very strong content in the public company arena so we worked with them to license features such as a brief company description or special facts or financials of the company.”

Information about private companies and mutual funds are provided to Google Finance by content partners Hoover’s and Morningstar.

Not prominently displayed
At first glance the Google Finance home page doesn’t appear to do much for the Reuters brand, because one really has to search to find any references to Reuters, and news headlines point users to a variety of other sources, including MarketWatch and Yahoo Finance. Ms. Stanton said it was a deliberate choice not to censor links.

“Where you see us linking to other providers it's where we've looked at what are the best finance sites out there according to Nielsen/Netratings or other attributes such as Is their content original? Above the fold? Is it free and easy to access? So that's how we've determined what sites to link to in those occasions,” she said.

“It is subtle and that is because we’re a partner and that is how Google approaches these issues,” Mr. Schwartz said. “But even in the context of subtle, we’ve gotten more branded attribution I believe than they're accustomed to providing and that was in the spirit of partnership. ... You’ll see Reuters branded attribution more than anybody else.”

Fueling the ad base
Reuters.com also has relationships with Yahoo, MSN and AOL. “This is yet another partnership that helps us amass audience that we package for marketers to help fuel our ad base,” Mr. Schwartz said.

Reuters decision a few years ago to focus its Web site on a consumer-oriented experience seems to be working. According to Nielsen/Netratings, site traffic grew 41% from February 2005 to February 2006, from 4.7 million visitors to 6.6 million. Site traffic for Reuters has not yet been evaluated since Google Finance's launch, but Mr. Schwartz expects a “healthy amount” of users will click over to Reuters from Google Finance.

As an increasing number of newspapers are deciding to stop printing stock tables, financial Web sites are growing in scope and number. Google Finance offers some features that distinguish it from its competitors. Yet despite the fancy bells and whistles, reviews of the new product have been mixed.

As one would expect from Google, the search engine allows users to look for information for a company using natural language. A search for Colgate delivers news on Colgate-Palmolive without requiring the user to know the ticker symbol CL. A search for bagels takes you to information about the company that offers the franchises for Big Apple Bagels and Brewster’s coffee.

Embracing the buzz factor
Embracing the power of buzz., Google Finance displays relevant blog postings along with news stories about a company that are discovered and selected in the same way as stories for Google News. The site hosts discussion forums that will be staffed with paid monitors to curtail spam. Perhaps the most interesting feature of Google Finance is interactive charts that correlate market data with news stories. If a user is curious about sharp peaks and troughs in the stock price, they can check to see what stories about the company appeared in the news at that time.

Mr. Schwartz explained that Reuters will look for more partnerships in future, including one for its entertainment news. “We believe that this is the new age of what it means to be a publisher,” he said. He explained a publisher’s role is “to identify synergies and really ... [maximize the experience] for the user and for our advertising supported business as well.”

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