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Web syndication is a form of syndication in which website material is made available to multiple other sites. Most commonly, web syndication refers to making web feeds available from a site in order to provide other people with a summary of the website's recently added content (for example, the latest news or forum posts). The term can also be used to describe other kinds of licensing website content so that other websites can use it.
Syndication benefits both the websites providing information and the websites displaying it. For the receiving site, content syndication is an effective way of adding greater depth and immediacy of information to its pages, making it more attractive to users. For the transmitting site, syndication drives exposure across numerous online platforms. This generates new traffic for the transmitting site — making syndication a free and easy form of advertisement.
The basic idea of restructuring information about web sites goes back to as early as 1995, when Ramanathan V. Guha and others in Apple Computer's Advanced Technology Group developed the Meta Content Framework (MCF). For a more detailed discussion of these early developments, see the history of web syndication technology.
Large scale web syndication of content started in 2001 when Miniclip freely syndicated online, browser-based, interactive games to the masses. Today many different types of content are syndicated on the Internet. Millions of online publishers, including newspapers, commercial websites and blogs, now publish their latest news headlines, product offers or blog postings in standard format news feed.
Web syndication as a commercial model
In addition to freely distributed material, some broadcasters and others use similar methods for the controlled placement of proprietary content on multiple partnering Internet destinations. In addition to web feeds, such commercial syndicators may use other methods to distribute their content such as Reuters, Associated Press and All Headline News.
Such commercial web syndication borrows its business models from syndication in other media, such as Print, radio and television. Primarily, syndication arose in those other media so that content creators could reach a wider audience. In the case of radio, the United States Federal government proposed a syndicate in 1924 so that the nation's executives could quickly and efficiently reach the entire population. In the case of television, it is often said that "Syndication is where the real money is." Additionally syndication accounts for the bulk of TV programming.
Commercial web syndication can be categorized in three ways:
- by business models
- by types of content
- by methods for selecting distribution partners
Commercial web syndication involves partnerships between content producers and distribution outlets. There are different structures of partnership agreements. One such structure is licensing content, in which distribution partners pay a fee to the content creators for the right to publish the content. Another structure is ad-supported content, in which publishers share revenues derived from advertising on syndicated content with that content's producer. A third structure is free, or barter syndication, in which no currency changes hands between publishers and content producers. This requires the content producers to generate revenue from another source, such as embedded advertising or subscriptions. Alternatively, they could distribute content without remuneration. Typically, those who create and distribute content for free are promotional entities, vanity publishers or government entities.
Types of content syndicated include RSS or Atom Feeds and full content. With RSS feeds, headlines, summaries, and sometimes a modified version of the original full content is displayed on users' feed readers. With full content, the entire content—which might be text, audio, video, applications/widgets or user-generated content—appears unaltered on the publisher's site.
There are two methods for selecting distribution partners. The content creator can hand-pick syndication partners based on specific criteria, such as the size or quality of their audiences. Alternatively, the content creator can allow publisher sites or users to "opt in" to carrying the content through an automated system. Some of these automated "content marketplace" systems involve careful screening of potential publishers by the content creator to ensure that the material does not end up in an inappropriate environment.
Just as syndication is a source of profit for TV producers and radio producers, it also functions to maximize profit for Internet content producers. As the Internet has increased in size it has become increasingly difficult for content producers to aggregate a sufficiently large audience to support the creation of high-quality content. Syndication enables content creators to amortize the cost of producing content by licensing it across multiple publishers or by maximizing distribution of advertising-supported content. However, a potential drawback for content creators is that they can lose control over the presentation of their content when they syndicate it to other parties.
Distribution partners benefit by receiving content either at a discounted price, or for free. One potential drawback for publishers, however, is that because the content is duplicated at other publisher sites, they cannot have an "exclusive" on the content.
For users, the fact that syndication enables the production and maintenance of content allows them to find and consume content on the Internet. One potential drawback for them is that they may run into duplicate content, which could be an annoyance.
- Content delivery platform
- List of music streaming services
- List of streaming media systems
- Protection of Broadcasts and Broadcasting Organizations Treaty
- Push technology
- Software as a service
- Article marketing
- ↑ Lash, Alex (3 October 1997). "W3C takes first step toward RDF spec". http://news.com.com/2100-1001-203893.html. Retrieved 2007-02-16.
- ↑ White Paper on Internet Content Syndication
- ↑ Offers Plan to Syndicate Programs.” The New York Times. 12 Oct 1924: Special Features Radio Automobiles Page 14
- ↑ Broadcast syndication
- ↑ Museum of Broadcast Communications Syndication
- ↑ Netcraft.com "Web Server Survey."