In today's podcast, we chatted with Martin Langveld, one of four cofounders of CircLabs, a project called "Circulate" that's trying to create a model in which both newspapers could find more people willing to pay for online content, as well as (more importantly) a model to attract more targeted and better paying online ad revenue -- as well as interesting and compelling news for people to consume. Working with folks like Bill Densmore, Langveld's model seems promising. Today's chat was wonky and technical, but fascinating.
The gist of how it would work: You download Circulate to your computer, placing on your desktop screen targeted stories as well as a targeted ad. The stories that end up on your desktop are both based on your interest as well as the sites that you travel to while online. So, if you're suddenly going to websites to read all about Toronto, news about the city may start to pop up on your Circulate. Additionally, if you're on Priceline.com looking at trips, a car rental ad may appear on Circulate later on - an ad you may just find useful, in that case. All your information is kept secret - and users can approve or deny what Circulate is allowed to factor in on their searches (ie make it so it doesn't track what you're doing online, but provide stories just based on what you say you like), but the more access you give it, the more targeted information you'll get.
Langveld, Densmore and the others are already in talks with papers around the country about participating -- and a beta should be coming out soon -- so we'll have to see if this approach can be massmarketed enough to both put a dent in the profits of online papers, as well as (more importantly), delivering interesting and informative news to the masses that they're not getting due to the sheer size and dispersed nature of the internet.