Technorati has always been a strange beast – neither fish nor fowl. Often mentioned in the same breath as Digg and Delicious it’s used by many passively as an aggregator of blog postings. Here’s how Technorati describes their mission:
Technorati is the recognized authority on what’s happening on the World LiveWeb, right now. The Live Web is the dynamic and always-updating portion of the Web. We search, surface, and organize blogs and the other forms of independent, user-generated content (photos, videos, voting, etc.) increasingly referred to as “citizen media.”
What this doesn’t make explicit in amongst all the searching surfacing and organizing is the fact that the site also functions as a search engine, an excellent example of the niche search portals everyone seems to be on the lookout for. In fact Wikipedia describes Technorati as a search engine for blogs but this is one of the few places (other than posts on Techorati’s own blog) that calls them out explicitly.
Meanwhile there are plenty of aggregators out there like Digg and super-niche aggregators like Sphinn, not to mention Google and Yahoo and Live which all allow some level of blog searching as well as aggregating. How can a site like Technorati compete?
The answer so far from the team led by CEO Richard Jalichandra is to become a mini-Google by building out an ad network and becoming a publisher. Today they announced the acquisition of Blogcritics, which is not a group of people wagging their fingers at the blogosphere. Rather, it’s a blog network that acts as a content publisher. Techcrunch reports that, “Jalichandra says that they will likely acquire more content sites in the near future. He also made it clear that there will be a wall between the Media and Search properties, and that no favoritism will be shown to Blogcritics content.” Hmm, replace the name “Blogcritics” with the name “Knol” in our search MadLibs and this could be a statement emanating from the Googleplex.
The ad network, announced in June, already included the aforementioned Adcritics as well as blogtalkradio, blogcatalog, BlogTV, GeekAlerts, NerdApproved and Technabob. While it’s nowhere near as extensive as what Google is doing and its unclear how the network is structured this is the first step in fully monetizing Technorati’s blog focused niche.
The one place this breaks down is the Technorati site itself. All the confusion about what technorati.com actually is and how it’s used is a tipoff that starkness and design clarity are not paramount. In fact it’s more reminiscent of a portal like Yahoo or AOL. Maybe Jalichandra should consider overhauling the homepage to emulate Google’s simple search interface. This would certainly set them apart from other aggregators.