Like customizable home page services offered by Google, Yahoo, and Netvibes, the Pageflakes-branded Pagecasts are literally blank slates--aside from publisher logos on top--for consumers to fill with continuously updated widgets carrying everything from weather and news to video and pictures.
Pageflakes, founded just last year, presently offers some 240,000 widgets--dubbed "flakes"--most of which have been created by independent users or business partners.
The company's new publisher partners are welcome to serve ads through their own widgets, but users need not save room for those widgets on their pages--a potential problem that is representative of Pageflakes' unripe business strategy.
Other publishers onboard include AOL, Newsweek Interactive, Slate, and CBS Television's "Entertainment Tonight." For all the partners, any desire to control the consumer viewing experience seems to have been replaced by Burger King's mantra of 'Have it Your Way.'
"With our Pageflakes Pagecasts, we can reach and interact with our viewers in a whole new way on the Web," said Chris Rooke, senior vice president of interactive media for CBS Television Distribution.
The purpose of testing new distribution models, according to AOL.com Vice President James Clark, is to "increase our ability to make AOL.com content more accessible and more easily shared across the Web."
Driving this trend is the excess of free content and viewing options now available to the vast majority of consumers, according to Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen.
" Personalization is at the heart of a new generation of Web media experiences," Cohen said. "Anyone on the Web can combine their favorite print and broadcast content with new forms of media such as user-generated content and social networking."
The Branded Pagecasts service is one of several new features being released by Pageflakes this week. The startup will also offer additional customization tools for users' individual pages, better support for Safari on Mac OS X, and new social networking features for Pageflakes members to connect and share their own personally branded Pagecasts.
Pageflakes is by no means the first company to champion personalization. Google has offered such features for nearly two years, and in May debuted its official personalization initiative dubbed "iGoogle."