'Mining for Gold' - the Potential Opportunities of Content Licensing

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When it comes to licensing content, Paul Gerbino, a partner at Triumvirate Content Consultants, wants you to look at your content in a different way.

"Individual content components that make up an article have value," Gerbino said, on a webinar he presented for us in January. "The sum of its parts may be greater than its whole. Charts, graphs, tables—these individually, separated from the original document—can be used to generate revenue. [Basically] you're mining for gold. You're looking at your collection and finding the gold within.

"This means you're starting to look at your content differently. If you have a book, can you extract single chapters? Can you decouple your audio from your video and have text transcripts made from that audio? [Those] are easily searchable. If you produce conferences, and speakers sign their rights away and any PowerPoints they provide become yours... these presentation materials have value.

"By repackaging and repurposing your content, you can create derivative products that can become additional products to license." 

Alice Ting, VP, licensing & syndication, The New York Times, said that creating content from scratch is expensive, so many places are looking for content. They key is monetizing your content, in the face of all the free stuff out there. "Licensing provides a good ancillary revenue for us," she said. "[More importantly,] it's a way to support the overall mission of the Times in a profitable way."

Ting, who will be a keynote speaker at the Connectiv Executive Summit, May 3-4, in Chicago, said that they are seeing a lot more demand for content in non-traditional media spaces. While they do put a lot of resources into it, different-sized publishers can also do it if you know your assets and prospective markets. "It's all about getting our content out there to new audiences and extracting value from it. Archival distribution, magazines, content packages, film options—yes, people now option our articles to create films."

Last summer, The Times began selling ingredients for recipes from their NYT Cooking website. They partnered with meal-delivery startup Chef'd, which sends the ingredients to readers within 48 hours. "Our audience spends a lot of time cooking at home," said Ting in a Bloomberg story. "So for us it was a natural area to investigate... We wouldn't do this if we didn't think there was a revenue opportunity."

Giving content greater reach can also be about the added engagement it fosters. In late 2015, The Times took their popular Modern Love column and turned it into a popular podcast. "It makes sense for us to extend it primarily because we have such engagement with our readers for that column," Ting said.

"[Publishers] should take a hard look at their content and who would want to license it," Bruce Brumberg, editor-in-chief of myStockOptions.com, told me last year. "Could be for newsletters, specialized websites, custom publishing. I think companies are interested in having substantive content on their websites and in their email newsletters and white papers. Content marketing and thought leadership are popular buzz words these days."

Once you have a client, Brumberg said it's good to always highlight your content for them and check in that they're making use of it. "That's key when they come up for renewal," he said. "We have email newsletters and alerts we send out that they can also use. We'll track usage and provide information on request. We don't know what their internal standard might be, such as page views. We want to make sure they're promoting the content and resources to their people."

"The one thing I've learned in my experience is that the aggregators' world is changing constantly," Gerbino said. "Their users' needs change. You need to reach out to them, start conversations and ask what type of content they're looking for."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…