HQ: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Products (Primary): Zemanta Web Service
Survey Respondents: Andraž Tori
Vendor Category: Deployer
Installed base: --
Zemanta has leapt onto the Semantic Web stage by launching its NLP-based service for bloggers and other content producers. The net effect is that for users, it’s like having a co-writer constantly suggesting related articles, links, and images, and then wrapping up with a set of recommended tags designed to increase search engine discovery. The steady stream of suggestions provides an abundant stock of references that can be used to enhance an article, blog post, etc. It’s easy to imagine how anyone would find these helpful, and equally, it’s easy to imagine a productivity boost as well.
Zemanta presently comes in several different flavors including add-ons for Firefox and Internet Explorer, a plug-in for Windows Live Writer (a Microsoft desktop application designed to publish content directly to many popular blogging services), a server-side plug-in for those hosting WordPress, Movable Type, or Drupal implementations and finally, as of December ’08, Zemanta offers fee-based access to its API (http://www.zemanta.com/api/) capabilities for automatic in-text linking, categorization, related news, related images, tagging and linking to other semantic databases. By covering each one of these bases, Zemanta has positioned itself to reach just about anyone who has an interest in blogging, writing, or content creation generally, anywhere in the world.
Recognizing the broad nature of its potentially vast user base, Zemanta’s solution is tuned for casual writers who may have looser writing styles when compared to professional columnists or authors. In fact, Zemanta’s focus on individual content producers may prove to be a key strategic decision – most, if not all, NLP products are geared toward team or institutional environments where there may be larger goals and needs to be served. Becoming a valued tool for individual content producers is a very different strategic aim and Zemanta may have wisely selected a market with few, if any, entrants.
Just trying Zemanta is enough of a differentiator – it’s one thing to have the desire to enhance your content but it’s very different and far better to have ready made suggestions at hand and immediately usable. If you’re a content producer, writer, or just someone looking for helpful suggestions when you write, you may be delighted to have Zemanta’s assistance.
Other differentiators include plans to broaden the delivery of Zemanta’s service through more familiar applications and the ability to harvest thoughts and suggestions from emerging repositories of linked data, but these two points require more time and development prior to their general availability.
A critical factor in setting Zemanta apart is that even the most computer-challenged user can take advantage of this solution. There’s no need for corporate IT personnel to get involved, no approval process, etc. – simply download the add-on to your browser, visit your favorite blogging site and start writing. This kind of simplicity destroys a number of barriers to adoption and Zemanta deserves credit for taking this approach.
Six/Twelve Month Plans:
A commercial version of Zemanta is planned which will be made available on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis. This version will be targeted toward professional content producers, likely those found in the publishing industry. Once launched, more specialized tools will be soon to follow any offerings to the publishing industry. Zemanta also has plans to apply their solution to more than blogging, although for the time being the company prefers to keep these plans private.
Zemanta is an extremely practical and useful tool that writers of all kinds may find helpful. It only takes a few moments to recognize the potential value of this service, not to mention the sheer helpfulness of having something as tedious as tagging performed automatically.
Returning to company’s market entry point, the decision to pursue individuals initially allows it to acquire recognition, a user base, valuable knowledge from real-world experience, and time to hone its offering to razor sharpness before entering professional/corporate markets. These markets will be pursued primarily in the US and UK, which should certainly keep Zemanta busy for some time to come. Writing may never be quite the same again.