Back to vortals

Remember vortals from the dotcom hey days? For those who dont recognize the term, it stood for vertical portals – go after a particular target group, and provide range of services to them – our first business before we gravitated to jobsahead was a “vortal” called zipahead for Indian youth!

Well, the vortal is back. I was at the alwayson media conference in new york yesterday, and a lot of companies seem to be building destination sites for particular target groups. It begs an interesting question of what has changed, and will the outcomes be any different this time around. Three things that have changed massively in favor are:

  • Critical mass of users on fairly targeted groups
  • Growth of online advertising to support such models
  • Maturity of community capabilities on the web

What has not changed though, is the difficulty of creating truly great content at one place, when the user has a choice to get best of breed content at different locations. In my view, that remains the single biggest challenge for such sites. So a college goer may use different sites for his academics need, versus dating, versus sports, and so on. The new model of aggregation of web content adds another dimension to these sites – they now have an opportunity to aggregate best of breed content, as well as syndicate out to wherever the user is (a la facebook). In some sense, the battle for the vortal is really a battle for the homepage.

Any thoughts on how you see this evolving?

14 Responses to “Back to vortals”

  1. srinivas says:

    Alok has raised a very valid topic and answered it as well partly.

    The idea of “one-stop-shop” sounds great (aka marketing slogan) and in reality is very difficult to achieve and live-up to.

    Yes today votels are back – not only vortels but lot many business models that did not succeed during dotcom. Many of them are successful too. The reasons according to me are -

    1. Today there is a bigger internet savvy community than in dotcom period.

    2. Increased internet access in India and China have hugely added up to increased internet traffic. Half the population of the world lives in these two countries.

    3. Internet Search as a tool for information sourcing and decision making has increased both in b2c and b2b businesses.

    4. Today you need to be a part of online community to be considered progressive (It is my point of view).

    As long as you provide authentic, most recent information in a secure environment you always have a strong business case. Period. Information industry size is estimated at 404 billion USD. There is always a need for information – truth or gossip.

  2. Paul says:

    I have an idea for a portal. Connections to make the vortal successful. However I can not make a vortal myself. Who do we contact ?

  3. Virat says:

    Alok,

    I do’nt see vortals have future. It is more about penetration rather then horizontal view. We lived in world where horizontal view was important. Eg. Yahoo, rediff gives almost all features needed during 1996 to 2002. Now we need specialization of services. It is basic law of Adam Smith theory. Specialization is next buzz not vortals. Company working on vortal will find exteremy difficult to control content as well as publish content based on catagories due to more choices.

    6 years back internet user feel lost during the navigation on internet. Now scenerio is different they are more composed. They preciosly use search engines rather then catogery based navigation. Secondly content has increased in many folds to help precise searching rather then catogery searching.

    Virat

  4. Jai says:

    Here is a user point of view. Industry vertical is a myopia. Interest groups inside verticals have very specific needs. As a user, I still spend a lot of time trying to find the 1% content relevant to me – from rest 99% which I don’t want – even in sites that claim to provide targeted content. Search engines are still the best source and most sites seem to think that they can sell what is available free of cost from wider Internet searches. Verticals would become meaningful if they provide database based searches which can help users to easily filter out what they do not want. If vortals also use string based searches then they would lose out to search engines for sure. Yes initially they all look attractive as colts only to become what they are better known to be

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