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M&G Online makes content free via Ananzi

The Mail & Guardian Online and Ananzi have formed a strategic online content and advertising alliance.

M&G Online will provide Ananzi with a breaking news and feature news feed for the search engine's homepage and news section. The deal also includes an advertising revenue share agreement. More initiatives between M&G Online and Ananzi are in the pipeline, they say.

The deal makes certain daily M&G Online news stories available for free on Ananzi, but the main M&G Online site is still accessible via paid service M-Web. Internet service provider M-Web and M&G Media jointly own M&G Online.

Matthew Buckland, editor of M&G Online, says new options are being considered. "Together with M-Web, M&G Online is considering a new paid-for content strategy and weighing up the associated pitfalls and advantages. Considering the lukewarm reception it has received overseas - with reported user conversion rates of only about 1% - we are approaching the model cautiously.

"From M&G Online's perspective, it doesn't make sense for us to apply a blanket payment rule to the entire Web site. It makes sense to insist on payment for the high value, unique content areas of the site. For example, users are unlikely to pay for a relatively common commodity like hard news widely available from wire services.”

Buckland points out that making some content available for free serves to highlight M&G Online's offering and encourage users to pay for more content from the site. Opening parts of the Web site also makes the site more attractive to advertisers because of the wider audience.

"The deal entails that we provide news linked from our page provided by M&G Online,” says Ananzi MD Mark Buwalda. "Both companies will share in the financial benefits of driving traffic to M&G Online in terms of branding and advertising, while providing Ananzi readers with quality content.

"We have positioned ourselves as the main search brand in the country - currently totally free. This first quarter is going to show a good upturn for this industry. Agencies that understand the Internet medium are proposing it to their clients and those that are not are losing out.”

Ananzi has strategic alliances with over 20 partners to provide a range of content and product offerings.

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