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Search software company Blinkx today is expected to announce a partnership to distribute a co-branded version of its browser toolbar with Times Online, the Web site of two of the best-known newspapers in Britain.
The move echoes another recent toolbar distribution deal, the partnership announced by Google and Sun in early October.
Suranga Chandratillake, Blinkx CTO and founder, expects the arrangement will add several hundred thousand users to Blinkx's current base of 1.5 million active users.
For The Times and The Sunday Times, the partnership will strengthen the newspapers' online offerings through the added value of passive contextual searches. The Blinkx search technology scans whatever content the user is viewing and generates links in real-time to topically related audio, video, and text, something still done manually by editors at many online publications. "Whatever you're reading or writing, [Blinkx] will understand and link to related news," explains Chandratillake.
Users of the Times Online Smart Search toolbar also will gain access to Blinkx's "smart folders," desktop directories where links to topically categorized news get added as soon as they're indexed. "Smart folders" are like subject-specific RSS feeds that don't require the user to initiate a subscription.
For traditional news publishers, lackluster or negative revenue growth on the print side and a booming Internet advertising market are requiring further investment in online audience development and retention. Securing a branded position on readers' desktops represents just such a venture. And there are likely more to come.