Content is Money
Most of the publishing world says Content is King. The publishers at SIPA say Content is Money.
The annual conference of the Specialized Information Publishers Association is a celebration of the value of content. Last week here in Washington at the Capital Hilton more than 250 publishing professionals came together, the majority of whom sell content far more than they do advertising. They sell reports, education and training, up-to-the-minute data, webinars, databases, market studies, site licenses, loose-leaf reference volumes, CEUs and even subscriptions.
I shall pluck two ideas from the excellent sessions to represent innovative ways SIPA publishers are selling content. For Business Valuation Resources, a company whose name describes itself well, books are just one of their product categories. As a new means of distribution they are now successfully selling licenses to books for access over certain periods of time. According to CEO David Foster, companies buy a site license to the books they need based on how many employees need access. Think about how much more per book you can earn compared to selling one copy outright.
If you are in the pharmaceutical industry you must keep abreast of what the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is doing. That is the simple market fact which makes FDA News so successful. They sell content more ways than most of you can imagine. They too find site licenses to be a profitable product. Operations director Jodi Grizzel described how providing robust portals increases the customers' satisfaction. They embellish each portal with their client's brand colors, logo, and other personalization, providing analytics on usage to drive renewals. Access to this valuable content feels like a natural part of the buyer's own business.
Have You Sold Any Content Lately?
Reading the general trade media about our industry, the theme is mostly that paywalls are a last option of desperate publishers, that getting people to pay for content is nearly impossible unless you are named Netflix. Success stories about selling content are presented as rare examples of remote possibilities.
A character in a novel I read recently stated, "Free information is by definition worthless." A bit harsh, but it makes the point.
I feel bad for general interest consumer publishers who likely won't have this opportunity. I heard recently Entertainment Weekly is going to start selling entertainment news. I wish them luck, but cannot imagine anybody needing more entertainment news than we are bombarded with every minute of every day.
If you are a B2B publisher there are no such concerns. If you are not yet selling content, there are probably more ways to do so than you realize.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.