With new service, it's a small world

A new service will offer ways to make Web content more geographically relevant.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
2 min read
Lost on the World Wide Web? Take heart--help may be on the way.

On Monday, a start-up based in Sunnyvale, California, will detail plans to make Web content more relevant to the neighborhood, or even the street, that you live on.

Dubbed GeoTag, or Go, the technology from Vicinity will help consumers and businesses in the same geographic area find each other--just as they do with the zoned edition of a newspaper or a local radio station broadcast.

That's a potential boon to consumers as well as many small businesses, which are eager to advertise on the Web but find it too difficult to target customers. Candidates could range from Legal Seafoods, a popular restuarant in the Boston area, to Aloha Airlines, a regional carrier in Hawaii.

"The Web has worldwide reach, but a lot of content is relevant only to people living in a particular area," said Rama Aysola, vice president of programming for Vicinity. "For example, a consumer searching classified ads on the Web generally is interested in items that are for sale nearby."

Vicinity announced its general strategy two weeks ago, but it will provide new details Monday. The service is expected to roll out next month or in September.

The company is offering GeoTag as an open specification to the Web community, and the company wants all Web site developers to "GeoTag" their content. To encourage that, the company is offering a free GeoTag server that allows anybody to add a GeoTag to a site on the Web and a free viewer that displays maps of GeoTagged entities.

"We are eager to engage the Web community in this dialog to help create personalized Web content," Aysola said.

Also on Monday, Vicinity will announce an expansion into the Europe by offering interactive maps for European countries starting in September. They could, of course, be useful to U.S. travelers as well.

Vicinity, founded in August 1995, hopes to make money by receiving a fee based on the volume of traffic that its products generate. It is a member of the CMGI group of Internet companies that also include Lycos, Planet Direct, Iktonic, and Black Sun Interactive.