Gilles Domartini| Thu Jun 16 2011 CET| Industry insights
Since we’ve launched Cleeng a few months ago, we have been in discussion with numerous different content publishers, and they all come up with same questions: How much is my content worth?
More recently we’ve also been talking with several VCs, which has generated a different set of questions, primarily: Do people buy content?
Well the truth is, is that all content is not born equal, thus it is very difficult to respond with a standardized answer. Take for example the recent survey conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri that analyzed 14,00 US daily newspapers. This survey showed that 46% of newspapers with a readership of under 25,000 say they are already charging for some online content. This compares to only 24% of papers with a 25,000+ circulation. On blogs, reaction to this data was that of surprise and it was generally thought that these percentages related to the drive of small newspapers to protect their content. Yet, there is another perspective to this. I believe that local newspapers have more unique, exclusive content that readers are willing to pay for. If you live in Denver, Amsterdam, Cannes, or Munich, you want to know what’s going on in city in which you live, and this is something only local paper media sources can provide.
We’ve looked at multiple industries publishing content from newspapers, to broadcasters, to movie studios, and to vertical sellers with educational, legal, and financial content. At Cleeng, we concluded that the right monetization tools need to be suited to the precise form of the content, from the highly commoditized (like daily national news, undifferentiated blogs, etc.), to premium content (educative materials, exclusive interviews, specific research, etc.).
How, then, do we measure the perceived content value?
Several important notes:
Note 1: The frequency of visits doesn’t really matter. You may visit your favored news site daily (e.g. Yahoo News), yet you aren’t likely to be ready to pay a subscription. Why? Since the perceived value is too small.
Note 2: By this (Note 1) we don’t mean to say that news sites are condemned only to selling advertising, and won’t be able to move to subscriptions. This caveat just functions to indicate the increased difficulty for news sites and that in order to maximize their potential, the news site must be very unique and relevant to its users (think local news or the NYT).
So, yes people are buying quality content online, from videos, to music, to books, and to high quality articles. Yet, there is not a “one solution fits all” type solution to the question of monetization, and that is exactly why we think we can really help this industry. Do you agree?