Three Publishers Diversify Their Revenue by Focusing More on Data

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Publishers selling new products and services is by no means a new idea, but with data's coming-out party the last couple years, it has become a much more prevalent one—especially with the need to diversify revenue. This week alone, Time Inc. and Bloomberg announced new initiatives.

Time Inc. has launched a new pet-services program using data from their publishing customers. "We typically sold people magazines!" said Rich Battista, Time Inc. CEO. "We did a great job at it, but that's all we did.

Unlike many of Time Inc.'s other products, PetHero will not rely on a publishing component. Instead it will rely on their huge trove of customer data. Previously, that data—from titles like People and Sports Illustrated—was hush hush. But now it's been centralized and combined with data from other sources for use by their consumer marketers and advertisers.

COO and President of Digital Jen Wong describes Time Inc. as "one of the largest direct-marketing companies in the U.S... We use this knowledge to rapidly develop new consumer products and services, like PetHero, that we can market directly to our large, direct customer base," she said.

Bloomberg is leveraging its vast financial data to start a consulting service. The company already has five clients lined up: two in technology, one in financial services, one in auto and another in retail.

"Everything we do is from and for our audience," said Bloomberg Media global chief commercial officer Andrew Benett, who joined the company in June. "Yes, Bloomberg is a media owner, but it's so much more," he told Adweek.

While we are talking on a massive scale—companies will pay between $150,000 to $200,000 per month for the service—the concept of a publisher combining its collective knowledge with its audience data to build a new service is a strong one.

The consultancy is not meant to make up for any setbacks in other areas. "This has nothing to do with a diversification strategy on the terminals [where the majority of Bloomberg's revenue comes from]," said Benett. "This has everything to do with a diversification strategy in the media group."

Another successful publisher that has capitalized on data to build new products is Investor's Business Daily. In a recent Q&A in Folio:, IBD President Jerry Ferrara said "the real key for IBD has been an ever-intensifying focus on data analytics...

"We were really able to home in on the data of where our customers are coming from and what they're doing once they're on the website...What we've found is that users coming to our website are coming from particular referrers and platforms, and we've reached out to those platforms and struck some traffic partnerships. We've also really just begun marketing more appropriately to those different platforms."

The new initiatives from that outreach include their MarketSmith stock research product and SwingTrader, launched last year. "We listened to what our customers wanted—then they wanted a mobile app version of it, so we launched that quickly," Ferrara said. "...we're investing more in data and building out our data team, so we can create new products off of that."

Ferrara added something else that should be music to many SIPA members' ears: "We benefit from being subscription-focused, because when you're selling to subscribers, they're providing more information that's going to personalize their experience with us. If you don't have a personalized suite of products and a personalized web and mobile experience, it's going to be really hard to grow in the future."

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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…