Like practically everything else in publishing, licensing content is changing
I'm blogging from the Worldwide Media Marketplace (WMM), an annual event hosted by the FIPP, the worldwide magazine media association. As the only event in the world whose focus is entirely on international licensing, syndication, and joint ventures, it's worth getting on the calendar if you're a publisher interested in developing these kinds of international partnerships.Claire Jones of FIPP invited me to attend and it's my first time here. I'm finding the threads of possible new business here for publisher clients, and starting conversations that will lead to many follow up conversations and meetings in the coming weeks and months.
"Your main purpose for being here is to network," said Mike Greehan of Cue Ball LLC, a U.S.-based company that helps publishers develop licensing partnerships. "If you talk to enough people, something will come of it."
A walk through the booth section reveals publishers committed to developing and maintaining these partnerships. Bauer, Haymarket, Hello!, Future, Imagine, and the Tribune, among others, are here with booths stocked with magazines displayed on portable racks, digital displays, and chairs and tables for back-to-back meetings. Attendees browse the booths, attend the daily workshops, and present their products and services in pre-set or serendipitous meetings.
Years ago, I am told, the conference attendance was heavily weighted towards licensees, companies scouting potential publisher content to launch in markets internationally. Even a few years ago, the mix was closer to 50/50. Today the licensors outnumber the licensees, and it's become, increasingly, a buyer's market.
"I think that the publishing market has become more difficult," said a distributor looking to develop licenses and partnerships in South America. "There is more risk involved, and it is important to be more careful with partnerships."
"The general trend has been moving from licensing and joint ventures towards syndication," said a publishing representative. "We have set up a site where approved articles and photos are posted immediately; subscribers can download anything that is posted and use it immediately."
My own observation is that publishing has grown stronger all over the world. Years ago U.S. publishers interested in export would often find themselves opening a category in markets around the world. Today local publications exist in many categories in many markets. Publishers in these markets find less need to introduce overseas content into their markets and instead look for opportunities to introduce their own content to global markets.
"We test the market first with local distribution and by surveying our retailers," one potential partner explained. "If there is opportunity, we move forward from there."
The challenges might be greatest for special interest magazines. "We look for more mass market publications. We look for fashion, beauty, news, entertainment, and lifestyle," explained a publisher from South Asia. "We have to be more careful with niche publications."
But opportunities do exist. "We have found success with business publications, food publications, auto publications," a European publisher said. "Sometimes we think a category won't work, but we try it anyway. And sometimes we are surprised by the level of success."
Linda Ruth, as president of PSCS Consulting (www.PSCSConsulting.com), offers communication companies worldwide the keys to magazine launches, search engine optimization and audience development online and at retail. She is a pioneer in the fields of Online Audience Optimization (OAO) and gamification for content publishers. Her books, "Internet Marketing for Magazine Publishers" ; "How to Market your Newsstand Magazine"; and "Secrets of SEO for Publishers" can be found on Amazon. Find her online at Google Plus, Magazine Dojo, LinkedIn, and Twitter @Linda_Ruth.