Introducing Advertising on Sqoop

This week, we will test a form of advertising and sponsorship on Sqoop. Most of you are veteran business journalists who understand that no company can live indefinitely without revenue.

We could charge journalists who use Sqoop a fee, but most newsrooms are cash-strapped. Also, philosophically, Sqoop hopes to lower the barriers to data journalism, not raise them. So we will accept advertising from companies and publicists who want to get their messages to interested journalists. At first we have two formats.

Sponsorships: Organizations can sponsor sections of the site, like SEC results, for example, or court records where we’ve publicly discussed our desire to fund more detailed access to PACER results. To that end, we’ve recently applied to the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge to help underwrite this endeavor.

Sponsored posts: We are also allowing advertisers to target groups of reporters interested in certain industries, technologies and geographies.

Sponsored posts will appear in your Sqoop search results in the same format so they aren’t jarring and will be labeled clearly as sponsored content. They will also show up in email alerts, again, within the same format and clearly labeled.


We intend to help our advertisers reach the appropriate group of reporters, and to make sure we don’t diminish your Sqoop experience by delivering irrelevant messages.

How will we match sponsored messages to the right journalists? We’re building a matching system that is sensitive to location and areas of interest. The matching system will note, for example, that a particular reporter is based in Silicon Valley or Philadelphia, and that he or she covers social networking, or healthcare. Then, if one of our advertisers is a real estate app serving only the Seattle market, we’ll try to show that content only to Seattle-area reporters, and not to journalists from Atlanta or Philly.

We also plan to use the same system for public data, offering a means of news discovery so we can, over time, suggest data that may be of interest to you, an idea that one of our Seattle reporters calls “ambient discovery.”

It is important to stress that Sqoop will not share the information upon which we are basing this matching system, i.e., your interests, alert settings, etc. This is your private information and we will safeguard it as such. Why are we doing this now? Because it will help us achieve our two missions: improving access to public data, and improving news discovery broadly.

First, we want to add more data sources, and our vision is to rank your search results and frequency of email alerts based on news value. For example, a small dollar-value Form 4, or even a large-value Form 4 representing a routine 10b5-1 trading plan sale, shouldn’t be at the top of your search results or trigger a dedicated email alert to your already over-crowded inbox.

Secondly, our vision is to improve news discovery beyond public data to include private data sources, information businesses themselves promote, and also expert sources to quote in your stories. These are all problems we have heard from many of you.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but first thing’s first.

The measure of whether this advertising pilot will be successful can be measured two ways. Will the companies paying for these sponsored posts feel that it’s worthwhile, and will you find these posts to be interesting or just annoying? Please email me at to let me know what you think.