StarTribune Does Federated Search

Back in late 2003, as I was coming on board at KRD, I was asked to do an analysis of the company’s current shopping offering vs. competitive offerings (newspapers, Amazon, etc), factoring in emergent shopping behaviors.

While there were many takeaways, one of the most obvious ones was that Newspapers were doing a poor job of exposing the rich content they had in a disparate collection of data silos (articles, classifieds, yellow pages/directory, etc).

The obvious recommendation? Federated search. (Not the end all be all, but a good starting point.)

Well, it’s more than a year later, and KRD and most of its peers have been preoccupied with plenty of other things, leaving consumers with an awkward search experience. Check out this page for an example of their fragmented offering (you can search Current News OR the Archive OR the Web OR one of several different classified categories, the latter frequently requiring a trip to co-hosted JV/partner page).

Enter those scrapy folks at StarTribune (a McClatchy pub) with a new “Integrated Search” offering powered by Terry Millard’s Planet Discover. (Disclosure: I met Terry while I was at KRD.)

Now, compare the above search experience with a search for “DVD” (from the core search box) on StarTribune; one page, showing article, directory, classified ad, newspaper ad, “local” web sites, etc. results, with convenient mechanisms for refining your search and digging deeper into large result sets.

Nicely done guys (but don’t forget persistent RSS search Feeds, your event/venue data base, etc). It’s a pretty safe bet we’ll see similar implementations from other Newspaper players in the future.

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