Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Gather Looking Like Prodigy?

When I was at Berlitz we struck a deal with an internet portal named Prodigy to manage their language section and have it branded with the Berlitz name. It was reasonably successful; not that we made much money, but we exposed the brand to a lot of new people. Prodigy lost out to AOL and is barely heard of but when I saw this news story about Gather.com I immediately thought of the comparison with Prodigy. Gather.com is growing rapidly in popularity and has chosen to focus on the older generation (myspace for pensioners). Funny, that if they hit their demo some of these people will have had Prodigy accounts. They have announced some content deals with Publishers' Weekly, Columbia House and McGraw Hill and I suspect more will be on the way.

The announcement states that Publishers' Weekly will:
In the books category, Publishers Weekly will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the publishing world, while getting feedback from avid readers. "On Gather.com, our experts will not only share what they discover, but learn about what book lovers think and want to know," said David Nudo, publisher of Publishers Weekly, in a statement. "This information is invaluable to us."


Columbia, meanwhile, is developing a site for Gather.com's music channel to promote the label's new releases and artists like Beyonce, Bob Dylan and John
Mayer. The label's recording stars will join in online sessions with users as part of promotional efforts around new records.

Currently the interface to books looks like this:

but I suspect they are going to have to change it to accomodate the new partners and give them brand space.

Perhaps more interesting to me will be the possible impact this alliance will have on Publishers' Weekly which has stuggled somewhat with their internet forays over the years and haven't effectively created a consumer profile for the brand. Their reviews program is the BIG exception to this. Meanwhile the significant B2B segment of their business has been diminishing which has place significant pressure on the company. If they are able to channel consumer interest, information, content, etc and extend their brand with consumers but also importantly creating new value for their B2B (Publishers, Booksellers) then they will really have accomplished something.

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