I can understand media such as the Wall Street Journal or Cosmo magazine, which target mass markets, jumping onto the Web bandwagon. They want to quantify the value of advertizing dollars spent in their pubs with click-through rates that seem to prove a larger audience. But is larger always better? Many people are overdosed on advertizing and no longer pay any attention to it. What's worse is many of these so-called leads are non-qualified. We have all heard the horrible but true stories about a subscription getting sent to someone's dog or dead husband.
Why are trade journals, especially, scurrying to join the fray? By definition, these publications cater to more specialized audiences, whether engineers, welders, hog farmers, or what-have-you. What does it matter if six billion Joe Schmoes happen to stumble on an online article about, say, computational fluid dynamics?
Instead of entering the fight to climb the Google rankings, wouldn't it make more sense for these kinds of publications to target what is known as the “Deep Web”? Made up mostly of information in databases and file networks, the Deep Web hosts trillions of bits of information more than the everyday “surface” Web, which contains links of text and html that spiders and crawlers providing search engine results can easily find.
Beyond Joe Schmoe searches, the Deep Web could potentially let businesses use data in new ways. For example, a design engineering site could cross-reference data from, say, college libraries with the latest findings on new materials. Or an energy efficiency site could extend its coverage by letting users tap into public records stored in government databases