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@ FOBM: Financial Portals May Face Audience ‘Burnout’

The economics crisis has been good to both financial portals, like Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Finance and AOL (NYSE: TWX), while also benefiting niche sites like Seeking Alpha and Minyanville, according to comments made by those company executives during a panel. Here’s what they said about what products work the best, and any potential tie-up between Yahoo and AOL.

On the potential Yahoo-AOL tie-up. Is bigger better? In September, Yahoo Finance recorded 20 million uniques and AOL had 14 million: Scott Moore, Yahoo SVP said the two sites are complimentary. Yahoo is a news aggregator and AOL’s focus is on personal finance. “If one company owned both of the sites, it would be a category-killer. It would be game over in terms of metrics.” Marty Moe, AOL SVP of Money & Finance: “I have no idea what will happen, and I don’t have any knowledge of discussions going on, but with that said, any scenario would present enormous opportunities. In this this economy, there are many ways in which bigger is better. In this economy, it’s inevitable that consolidation is happening. I think that it’s a trend that will happen, particularly for international growth.”

The hot finance products: Moe: “Our consumer audience, is up across the board, and i think the consumer side is going to be the long tail in this.” David Jackson, Seeking Alpha’s Founder and CEO: “We’ve seen very different growth rates among different products. About a quarter ago, we launched a real-time news product that links to stories all across the web, and over the last 2 1/2 months, traffic is up 450 percent. Other areas are slow. Transcripts are up about 10 percent quarter over quarter.”

Bad news equals spike in traffic: Minyanville’s President Kevin Wassong: “That’s certainly a key to it…Today, everyone’s appetite is for a trusted voice and the understanding of what’s happening has grown.” Moore: “It’s definitely tied to the downturn. Bad news is good news in the business, and that absolutely applies here. With Yahoo Finance you can get a wealth of data in real-time, and when people are feeling anxiety, they want to go back and check and check and check.” Jackson: “We are setting successive records week over week. In any given day, it’s extraordinary when the markets are volatile. It’s great for traffic, it’s an opportunity for sites to put their best feet forward. It gives consumers the sense you are giving them is very up to date and credible.”

Is it sustainable?: Wassong joked: “The market was up 890 points today, so it’s over,” but seriously added: “there is a burn-out factor. Right now we are dealing with a lot of volatility. Personally, I hope it goes on for awhile because it will be good for traffic.”

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