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RealTime IT News

Report: By 2000, Portals Will Be Like TV Networks

GartnerGroup Inc. said its researchers think that by 2000 there will be five top Internet portals firmly established in consumers' minds, just as the major television broadcast networks are today.

These portals will command the lion's share of Internet users and businesses that want to reach the broadest audience possible will have to find ways to align themselves with a portal site to advance their marketing strategies, said the technology research firm.

The firm made no predictions on exactly which portal sites will come out on top, however.

"What the Web needs--and what it will have within two years--is a handful of sites that serve the same purpose as today's major TV networks," said Patrick Meehan, research director at GartnerGroup. "Users of the Web will migrate toward these sites, known today as portals. In the same way that television viewers are attracted to certain networks for their favorite television programs, Web surfers will head to portals to browse and link to their favorite information sources, such as weather forecasts or stock quotes, or to sample new information sources."

GartnerGroup said it sees three strategies emerging for most commercial Web endeavors: Win, place and show.

Win: The enterprise seeks to become a self-sufficient portal on its own. This means providing content for widely diverse communities of interest; free end- user services (e.g., e-mail accounts and personalization, including home pages for individual users); some localized content; and other services typically provided by Internet service providers and online services, such as Internet access and online communities. The expense will be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Place: The enterprise seeks to become a standing element of content on an established portal by riding the coattails of win-category leaders, much the way a studio places a promising broadcast series on a leading network.

Show: The enterprise wishes to be readily visible to the portal's users as a search output. These will be enterprises that do not aspire to become a network or a studio because they already have a firmly established Internet presence and simply seek to leverage that investment across a broader audience. Companies aiming to show will make sure their site is retrieved for all relevant searches by the portal site's viewers, through ensuring that their site's titles and relevant keywords are clear and accurate, and by advertising the company's own Web site on the portal site.

"Most enterprises will find themselves following a `show' strategy. Aggressive firms, and those that lack a formidable Internet presence, will opt for the `place' strategy. Very few companies have the wherewithal or intention of going for the `win,'" Meehan said, adding, "Firms that make no portal strategy decisions by mid-1999 risk missing the opportunity altogether."

These and other e-commerce issues will be explored at the upcoming GartnerGroup Symposium/ITxpo 98, scheduled Oct. 12-16 in Lake Buena Vista, FL; Oct. 21-23 in Tokyo; Oct. 28-30 in Brisbane, Australia; and Nov. 2-5 in Cannes, France.