Cover Story: Making Content Pay
For the first decade of its life, The Deal LLC was a classic "pubs and subs" publisher, operating on a three-tiered subscription model (free, paid and premium). "Deal.com is really now just a very limited taste of our content, an opportunity for us to expose what we do to a broader audience who might then become interested in licensing the information service," CIO Michael Lonier says. "There is very limited content there now. [The website] also houses The Deal magazine, which is some of our best content and still has a classical magazine-style website." In addition to offering The Deal magazine in its entirety, the website also features free sponsored microsites called Knowledge Centers, which house content provided by and created in partnership with sponsors.
"There are two things of value in the company," Lonier explains. "We talk a lot about proprietary content—everybody talks about that today if they have any, and of course, the other very valuable thing we have is our audience. We know a lot about our audience, and it's a very unique and highly targeted audience already by virtue of who they are and how we have served them for a decade. They are significantly targeted. So we can drive that audience into our sponsors' digital information; it's not like we are trying to do a massive Web play."
The company's move into licensing and information services has proven to be both well-timed and successful, as the financial industry has moved away from "print sponsorship and print-adapted sponsorships online, like banner ads," Lonier says. Marketers, too, are looking to occupy the highly practical, workflow-oriented information-services space occupied by companies like The Deal and Bloomberg.
"In our universe … there is a real calculated, hard-core, business-oriented focus on the value of what your license offers," Lonier says. "That's how [clients] treat other people in our space. So this isn't like trying to help people figure out what's better, a tennis blog or a tennis website. This is all about Bank of America trying to make its quarter."