Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

May 10 2013

17:31

Politico Pro expands into new coverage areas

Fresh off the announcement of their paywall experiment, Politico says it plans to expand its current subscription-based service, Politico Pro, to include trade, agriculture, and education. The company plans to launch even more Pro verticals in 2014. Dylan Byers has the memo, which offers some details into how Politico thinks about making its money:

We believe any successful media company in this age must have multiple revenue streams. In our early years, we were 100 percent reliant on issue advocacy advertising, mainly in print. That worked very well for us, and still does. But a growing newsroom must be supported by a growing business, so we have introduced events and subscriptions over the past 36 months. We still get the vast majority of our revenue from advertising, with online ads growing the fastest. But we project subscriptions will account for 25 percent of our revenue this year and close to 50 percent by 2016, providing the company a nice, sustainable balance. The beauty of subscription revenue is that it’s predictable and not dependent on broader economic and market trends. Like clockwork, more than 95 percent of Pro subscribers renew each year and the few that drop are usually members of Congress who lost reelection or companies that went out of business or merged. In almost every case, Pro subscribers often add new verticals — or more users — to their package each year.

May 09 2013

14:54

The newsonomics of influentials, from D.C. to Singapore to Raleigh

singapore-skyline-cc

It’s a season of new product launches, but you have to roam around the country and the world to find them. You have to look for the niches they’re trying to serve. These launches tell us a lot about the emerging digital news economy and the new building blocks that form its foundation.

Our journey takes us from Washington, D.C. to Singapore to Raleigh and back again to D.C. Publishers — and broadcasters — are basing these new businesses on a set of surprisingly similar features.

In D.C., Atlantic Media — in the beehive of activity that is its headquarters in the Watergate Building, overlooking the Potomac — is putting the finishing touches on its latest launch: Defense One. The new digital-just-about-only product will debut this summer, Atlantic Media president Justin Smith told me last week.

Defense One aims to disrupt a set of incumbent defense-oriented publications: Jane’s, Gannett-owned Defense News, and Breaking Defense, among them. Atlantic Media believes it’s found an opening — a wide one — to exploit.

“We saw a gap,” says Tim Hartman, president of the Government Executive Media Group, the Atlantic Media brand under which Defense One will take flight. The company believes It may offer a market as much as three to seven times greater than Government Executive itself, a 40-year-old title that has largely made the transition to digital.

Hartman says the understanding of the opportunity popped out of strategic planning that began two and a half years ago. Quartz, the business site launched last fall (“The Newsonomics of Quartz’ business launch”) was the first new product to come out of the work. Defense One is the second. A third one will likely launch within the next two years, says Hartman.

If analytics derived from Government Executive’s audience and usage provided the notion, in-depth interviews with 40 defense sector players filled in a roadmap. The company conducted initial hours-long interviews with them, and then returned to a number of them for second or third talks as plans solidified.

Over time, Hartman says Defense One’s staff size will be similar to that of Quartz — about 18-20 in content creation and production. While the company is looking for a top editor, Hartman says its editorial mandate is clear: “an orientation for the future.” That’s what industry leaders want, a sense of what is more likely than not to happen tomorrow, and why.

Much of Atlantic Media’s sales, marketing, analytics and financial functions can be leveraged to support the new product, minimizing what would be similar expense for a one-off start-up. Also like Quartz, it is going free, looking to marketers to make it profitable. It isn’t just an ad play. Rather, it looks to an emerging model of higher-end sponsorship and content marketing — with the important adjunct of events marketing — to propel it forward.

Its offer to marketers will follow the playbook of what Atlantic Media’s half-dozen other publications (The Atlantic, The Atlantic Wire, The Atlantic Cities, Quartz, National Journal, Government Executive) now offers. It’s on-site sponsorship/share-of-voice placement, content marketing, and marketing services aid and placements and sponsorship of physical events.

That events business rides right alongside inclusion on its websites, providing marketers with a brand association that fluidly moves from online to off and back. It’s a strategy now well-employed in D.C. — also exploited by Politico and The Washington Post — and among events leaders like The Texas Tribune. Atlantic Media has turned events into a potent, higher-margin revenue source, now accounting for around 16 percent of revenues.

Even before Defense One’s product launch, it is well along in lining up speakers for its first event in November.

Atlantic Media targets influentials. It is a term you hear often in conversation with the company’s president, Justin Smith. Quartz targets business influentials. Government Executive and National Journal target government influentials. Now Defense One targets national security influentials. It’s a spin on the Meredith marketing positioning I noted a couple of weeks ago, as that company morphed from a women’s magazine company to a company expert at marketing to women.

“It’s really a B2B model,” says Smith, explaining in a few words much of Atlantic Media owner and chairman David Bradley’s plan to double company revenues and profits within five years. The best B2B companies deeply know their audiences and then plan numerous touchpoints to yield revenue. If they are number one in their field, they reap the benefits.

There are a lot of influentials in this world. The trick is in picking the right targets.

Seeking influentials across Asia

That’s who HT Media, publisher of a leading national Indian daily (the Hindustan Times) is targeting in Singapore. Mint is HT Media’s business newspaper, now six years old and published in eight Indian cities. The paper was cofounded by Raju Narisetti, who has since done stints at The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal and was recently named senior vice president and deputy head of strategy for the emerging, separate News Corp.

For Mint and its digital Livemint, a highly readable, authoritative business news source, finding growth included finding influentials abroad and expanding upon its mission to be “a fair and clear-minded chronicler of the Indian dream.”

One month ago, it launched MintAsia in Singapore. Its targets: the large Indian expat business community. There are 4,500 Indian-owned companies in Singapore, which is fast becoming the multinational business center for its region. MintAsia is also aimed at those multinationals, for whom better knowledge of India, its economy, and its policies are central to their own growth plans.

The new MintAsia is both a weekly newspaper published on Fridays and a website. About a quarter of the weekly content is originated for the Singapore market — largely produced by Mint’s India-based staff of 140, with stories like “Top 10 Indian Health Startups” targeted for the strong health care business sector of Singapore. The rest of MintAsia’s content is chosen from Mint’s stream of web-first and daily print content. HT is sending a former head of ad sales to head up the MintAsia operation, and has employed a handful of Singapore locals to deal with circulation and logistics.

“The whole idea is to leverage our strength,” Sukumar Ranganathan, Mint’s editor, told me in Delhi. “For Singapore, it’s marginal costing.”

So, its costs are small, and its potential gain — in revenue, in branding, and in influence — is large.

Its business model is au courant. MintAsia is an all-access, print + digital product. It’s printing 3,000 copies to start, with a goal of reaching 10,000 within a few years. By branching out of its home market, it is not only testing a pay strategy; it’s a pay strategy that greatly exceeds what it can charge in its home market. India is just about the only major nation not suffering from the worldwide newspaper turndown. Advertising is growing robustly, and circulation is holding as well. That’s what adding millions of literate, better educated, striving-into-the-middle-class citizens a year will do for you.

But Indian dailies are among the cheapest in the world. Mint daily costs four rupees per copy — seven cents American! An annual subscription will set you back 500 rupees, or about $9.26.

In Singapore, Mint Asia costs six Singapore dollars, or US$4.87. Buy a year of print with access to the LiveMintAsia, and the price is 180 Singapore dollars or US$146. (Its paywall is now a hard one, but will go metered, powered by Press+, next month).

So we see minimal costs, good ramping all-access circulation money, and two other familiar streams of revenue: advertising targeting the financial and other needs of Singapore-based Indian influentials and events. MintAsia’s formal launch comes on May 28, when it hosts a conference in Singapore that includes the head of the Indian equivalent of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That event already has two paying sponsors; more sponsored events are in the works.

As with Atlantic Media, the niche strategy is more than a one-off. Hong Kong may be the next logical market, with other Asian markets farther down the list. If Mint moves into those markets, it will likely proceed much as it has in Singapore — checking its data for critical masses of likely readers and then following up with in-person visits to new cities, talking to to the influentials about influential publication potential.

Seeking influentials in North Carolina

Back in Raleigh, North Carolina, the WRAL’s TechWire product isn’t new, but its paywall is. It is certainly one of the first paywalls put up by a broadcaster, though in this case, Research Triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) digital market leader WRAL isn’t putting one up on its main site — it erected its paywall on its technology vertical about a month ago. It follows the paywall paradigm, with a couple of twists.

TechWire charges $24.99 for an Insider annual membership, which includes numerous industry events and other discounts. Until May 16, the annual price is discounted by half. It also offers monthly passes for $2.49 and day passes for 99 cents.

So far, WRAL general manager John Conway says he happy with the early results. Most subscribers are opting for the annual plan; unique visitor and pageview loss has been minimal for the site that’s recently averaged 125,000 unique visitors a month, the majority of whom are local. His goal: get 5-10 percent of those uniques paying for something.

The paywall is powered by Amsterdam-based Cleeng, a paywall provider whose clients include Epicurious, DailyMotion, and now, TEDMED, and which offers an architecture that works well with video content access control.

TechWire offers a hard paywall, with first paragraph offering for free on staff-written stories. (AP, Bloomberg and other non-local content makes up 50-60 percent of the site, and that remains accessible.)

Seeking influentials in D.C. politics

Up the road and back in D.C., Politico continues to build on its impressive Pro line of products (“Politico Pro grows into 1,000 organizations, moves into print”) — following the influential methodology. Roy Schwartz, the company’s chief revenue officer, now counts seven Pro products. Three of these — finance, tax and, interestingly, defense — debuted last September. They followed energy, health care, and technology, all launched in February, 2011, and transportation, which followed a year later.

These Pro products, too, borrow from the same marketplace understandings that drive Atlantic Media and Mint. In Politico’s case, it’s working richer veins of revenue. Politico Pro now claims more than 7,000 users, across more than 1,000 organizations.

Politico sells institutional subscriptions, on a largely per-seat basis, to groups within each niche that want an insider’s time and knowledgable view. Politico takes in mid-four digits a year for each subscriber, with pricing variable by niche and what the market will bear. It also sells sponsorships into the Pro products, the same kinds of marketing that funds its free Politico site. Then those sponsors’ reach is further extended — at an additional price, of course — into events. Last year, Politico hosted 90 events. On its roadmap, it makes sure that each of the Pro verticals will host an event a quarter. It’s sponsorship-fueled, value-added-to-membership relationship marketing.

Schwartz says the events are free to attendees and strive to match the allure of the Pro coverage. “It’s about convening thought leadership. What we find interesting, our audience finds interesting.”

So what do you do when you’ve bound together targetable groups of influentials? You put together an Influencer Upfront. On Wednesday, Politico hosted its first Influencer Upfront.

The upfront was a day of presentations, editorial and advertising, to significant advertisers. Politico is borrowing a page from the long-standing TV network upfronts, events held to showcase shows and sell fall ad campaigns in the spring. Digital upfronts are becoming all the rage, as this spring saw several in New York City’s, including one sponsored by Digiday.

Lessons learned

It’s no accident that each of these four newer products all touch business audiences and markets. The truism hold: It’s easiest to make money where money is changing hands. Make yourself an effective intermediary, and you can grab a little of it as it moves. It’s easiest to see these opportunities, clearly, in and around business. It’s an in-the-know kind of market, and it’s one — because of scale — that national publishers are now tending to exploit first.

Can it work regionally? Can regional newspapers find big enough niches to replicate this model? If I were a regional publisher, I’d be doing a whiteboard exercise bouncing off these emerging influentials models.

Among these four newer products, we can see the emerging new rules of publishing creation. Among them:

  • Critical mass enables growth. Niche product creation that builds on existing company infrastructure, knowledge and marketplace learnings is the cost-effective way to go. Each of these companies adapted what they learned to these new launches. Politico’s seven Pro products illustrate this most clearly; Atlantic Media’s cousin-by-cousin launches put a parallel spin on the notion. (Intriguing side note: Politico owner Robert Allbritton put his once-core TV station holdings on the market last week, saying he wanted to further invest in and around Politico. The “around” could include replicating the Politico business model in a new coverage niche.) This is a new power of incumbency. It’s not the ownership of a printing press, as it was for newspaper publishers in the old days.
  • Analytics leads the way; in-person follow-up seal the deal. You may have an intuition about a new market, but checking it out — doubly — is essential.
  • Help your audience deal with future and present shock. Covering a sector is one thing; covering in a way that embraces — and tries bring a bit of order to — the multiple change issues of any audience is another. That’s an aspirational and competitive editorial positioning, but we can see ongoing examples of it in the work that Mint, Quartz, and Politico already produce.
  • Events are emerging as both a vital new revenue source and an almost counterintuitive high-touch part of the mostly digital business mix. HuffPost Live, Google Hangouts, and assorted other ways to assemble online community are great experiments and promising tools, but old-fashioned in-person events are gaining strength as we all go more digital. That’s an important learning about the value of relationship, and how to reinforce it, even in the age of MOOCs.
  • It’s not print or digital. It’s digital and print, suited to audience reading habits — which of course are a moving target. Influentials, like all of us, toggle between the two.

Photo of Singapore skyline by Thibault Houspic used under a Creative Commons license.

April 17 2012

14:30

Politico Pro, one year in: A premium pricetag, a tight focus, and a business success

Most nights on Capitol Hill, the Senate and House press galleries begin to thin out around dinner time. The deadline rush subsides, and all but a scatter of reporters remain.

It was approaching 11 p.m. on March 7 when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a deal that cleared the way for voting to begin the next day on 30 amendments tied to a $109 billion transportation bill.

Inside baseball, sure, but it’s news that matters inside the Beltway, and matters to a lot of people. It’s the kind of deal you might want to know about right away if you were a member of Congress or a lobbyist or someone else who has to keep track of policy for a living. But it’s unlikely you would have found out about the deal on TV, or on Twitter or via any major newspaper’s website that night. Even traditional policy publications didn’t have it.

Enter Politico Pro, the pricey premium news service, launched last year with the goal of doing for policy coverage what Politico set out to do for political coverage five years ago.

“I don’t think the policy areas had been covered in a very interesting way before — policy publications can be pretty dry,” Politico Pro editor-in-chief Tim Grieve said. “There are ways to cover this stuff that are pretty damn interesting, which may be the secret to our success.”

On the night of March 7, paid subscribers to Politico Pro got the news about the Senate transportation deal almost immediately. Anyone signed up for the service’s energy coverage would have received this email at 10:41 p.m.:

Sixteen minutes later, Politico Pro published a story about the deal, including a full list of the amendments. Here’s a partial screenshot:

Less than an hour after that, a reporter for Politico’s core site broke the news that President Barack Obama had been personally lobbying Democrats in the Senate, urging them to reject one of the amendments that turned out to be on the list.

In the span of an hour, Politico and Politico Pro — we’ll get to the distinction later — had significantly advanced a major story in a way that would inform the next day’s business on Capitol Hill. For people involved in that business, knowing about these developments before getting to work the next morning would have been key.

“The next morning at 7:18, our competitor has this story: ‘Amendments for the Senate transportation bill are still up in the air,’” Grieve said. “They didn’t even have the story. That happens quite a lot…Do you want to find out something that’s really important in your universe now, or do you want to wait?”

“Now” is increasingly the answer among smartphone toting news consumers. But like many premium niche news services, the nowness that Pro delivers comes with a steep price tag. A year into its life — and as more publishers consider whether a premium-content strategy might make sense for them — Politico Pro’s success is a model worth watching.

You pay for what you get

Politico Pro covers four major policy areas: technology, energy, health care, and transportation. Newest in the mix is the transportation section, which launched on Tuesday. The site plans to add at least one more vertical before the end of 2012. Of Politico’s 217 total employees, more than 150 are on the editorial side, with 45 of them dedicated to Pro. The rest work in sales, technology, and events.

For an individual subscribing to one of Pro’s verticals, pricing starts at $3,295 per year. But most Pro subscribers are part of a group membership, and those start at around $8,000 per year for licensing content from a single vertical to five people. Pro bans subscribers from sharing or forwarding content. Add more employees to an organizational membership and the “price becomes more fluid,” says Miki King, Pro’s executive director of business development.

The subscription strategy has been somewhat fluid, too. Pro didn’t offer group memberships at first, but quickly found that it was a better business strategy. “The vast majority, well over 95 percent, are organizational subscriptions versus individual subscribers,” King says. “The whole idea behind the Pro subscription is we are going so deep in these policy areas that you would only care about it to this degree if this is your job.”

So it’s not surprising that about one-third of Pro subscribers are government workers.

“That ranges from Capitol Hill offices — members of Congress and senators’ offices — to government agencies to state and local municipalities,” King said. “Roughly another third are in the general public policy space — trade associations and those organizations that cover general policy, the think-tank types of organizations, or those who specifically cover energy policy.”

The other third is “everybody else,” King says.

Pro executives won’t publicly share subscription numbers, but just past the one-year mark, King says the figures “very quickly exceeded the expectations of where we thought we would be.” She says the number of subscribers has tripled since February 2011, and renewals “overwhelmingly” surpassed market-based predictions of 85 to 90 percent. As Politico’s Jim VandeHei and John Harris wrote in a staff memo earlier this month:

We set high editorial standards, and we achieved them. We set big goals for Pro’s first-year sales, and we beat them. We set big goals for Pro’s first-year renewal numbers, and we’re beating those, too. Readers want the kind of journalism Pro produces — fast-moving, decisive POLITICO-style journalism applied to the specific policy areas that interest them most. Because of this success, POLITICO has the most reporters working the most important policy areas in Washington — and all our readers benefit from this when we turn to the PRO team to write for our broader audience on energy, health care and technology matters.

While the Politico brand has been built on breaking targeted news, the sense of urgency that guides Pro’s team is mostly about getting meaningful information to people right away — sometimes even before reporters have a full understanding of what a news development means. King says Pro has “no problem whatsoever sending out to our subscribers a two-line email that’s going to give you a piece of breaking news that could impact your day because we’re not waiting for three hours for a reporter to file a story on it.”

“It’s very liberating for reporters, but it’s pretty damn liberating for readers too.”

That also means changing the way Pro’s stories are constructed.

“One of the things I tell reporters every day is: When you get to that point of the story, four or five paragraphs in, and [you write] ‘the move comes amid…’ — stop,” Grieve said. “Anybody who is reading Politico Pro knows what ‘the move comes amid.’ That 300 words of new essential information can be a 300-word story. The traditional approach would be a 1,000-word story, but the second part of that story would be the blah blah blah that everybody already knows…It’s very liberating for reporters, but it’s pretty damn liberating for readers too. No one has time to read stuff they already know. Take your time with the stuff that’s going to grab them by the jacket lapels and say, ‘Whoa, this is new.’”

Pro by phone

For Politico Pro, grabbing readers by the lapels means getting into their inboxes. Because the overwhelming majority of Pro subscribers are in Washington, that means catering to their reliance on BlackBerrys, which are — believe it or not — still ubiquitous on the Hill.

“It’s such a BlackBerry-centric and email-centric world,” VandeHei, Politico’s executive editor and co-founder, told me. “Anything that moves [on Pro] you’re getting pinged to you instantly on your BlackBerry. That option is only available right now to Pro subscribers. We just hear something interesting, and it might be just enough text to fill a BlackBerry screen. That part of the experience is very different than what you’re getting from Politico.” (Although Politico’s main product puts a lot of emphasis on mobile, too.)

Pro’s phone-centric approach means that its subscribers spend “very little time” on the site itself, Grieve says. There’s also no plan to move into text-messaging territory. Instead, subscribers get Pro updates on their BlackBerrys while rushing between hearings, while they’re waiting for a meeting with a Senator, or while they’re otherwise on the go.

“If you have a few hours on the weekend to read a 10,000-word New Yorker story, that’s a really rewarding experience,” Grieve said. “It’s also not what we’re trying to do. If you’re racing around the Hill trying to make progress on the policy area you care about, that’s a really lousy way of getting information.”

Content customized and on-demand

The other way that Pro tries to help readers cut to the chase is by letting them customize their newsfeeds. So in addition to subscribing to basic alerts, briefings, coverage from specific reporters, and other updates in policy areas of interest, readers can tag up to 25 terms that matter to them. That could be the name of a senator, a particular piece of legislation, or just about anything at all, really. Check it out:

“Any time that we write about your member of Congress, your agency, your company, your client, that’s instantly sent in full email text to your BlackBerry,” VandeHei said.

It may sound simple, but VandeHei calls what Politico Pro is doing “arguably the most important business innovation and arguably journalistic innovation” since Politico’s core site launched five years ago.

“The reason I say that is it now gives us two different solid revenue streams, which gives us two different ways to fund really aggressive journalism,” VandeHei said. (Politico won its first Pulitzer Prize yesterday.) While the Pro reporters are grouped in a different area of the building than the other Politico reporters, VandeHei says Pro is ultimately a “descriptive term” and, “at the end of the day, it’s one newsroom.”

Pro’s top editor Grieve also says that he’s hoping to foster more cross-pollination among reporters going forward. Already, there’s overlap. Pro reporters’ bylines are often on the core Politico site, and one Pro reporter recently hit the campaign trail with Mitt Romney when the core Politico team needed a break, Grieve says.

“As we grow Pro, I think you’re going to see much more of that — much more crossing over and blending and people moving around the newsroom in creative and maybe surprising ways,” Grieve says. The other surprise will be what verticals Pro rolls out next. Executives won’t say which areas they’re exploring, but King says there are clues on the core site.

“If you think about the way we have launched Pro products in the past, we’ve always launched around where we have done coverage,” King says. “For a hint on policy areas where we may be able to, over time, lend some insight from a Pro perspective, take a look at policy pages where we’ve covered everything from transportation to finance to defense. Those and more would be potential areas for future verticals.”

The good news for those who can’t afford the pricey premium service — and for those who care about quality journalism in general — is that Pro’s growth directly affects what the core Politico team is able to cover.

“If Pro didn’t exist, if there weren’t a base of readers who were interested in paying for the kind of highly detailed coverage Pro provides, it would be a limitaiton on the way Politico as a whole could cover this stuff — we might have one energy reporter, one technology reporter, one healthcare reporter,” Grieve said. “So when SOPA comes to the fore, when the contraception fight comes to the fore, when gas prices are the thing everyone’s talking about in Washington, there’s kind of an overwhelming force of manpower, expertise, knowledge, and insight that we can bring to bear for Pro readers and regular Politico readers that we just wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. It works from an editorial standpoint and works from a business standpoint. And if it doesn’t do both of those things, then it’s not going to happen.”

Photo of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda by ctj71081 used under a Creative Commons license.

December 07 2011

19:20

Your 2011 holiday gift guide, brought to you by the news

Santa running down the street in Algers, France

If you want to save journalism, you might turn to journalism this year for all your Christmas shopping.

This weekend at NewsFoo, an O’Reilly “un-conference” for about 170 journalists and tech disrupters, the tech writer Mónica Guzmán posed a question: “Can’t we [news organizations] sell anything besides articles?” Yes, it turns out, and there are numerous examples of them trying it.

A couple of months ago Guzmán was talking to an entrepreneur in Seattle who had just sold his latest startup to Google. “We got to talking about journalism, and I’m always fascinated to listen to people who come from an innovative mindset, but not a news mindset, look at news. What he said, basically, is I don’t see how news is really going to innovate and move forward unless they can get past this idea that what they sell is just content.”

News organizations have one big advantage in business: They know their audience.

“We have a huge leg up when it comes to organizing information communities,” she said. “[News outlets] build those communities that can be really specific and really well defined.” (NewsFoo is generally off the record, but Guzmán talked with me after her session.)

Here are a few examples of all the ways news companies are selling non-news products to consumers. Some might look better wrapped up under the tree than others, but if you feel like supporting the news, maybe there’s room on your credit card for one or two of them.

Merchandise!

For the oenophile in your life, buy a gift subscription to the New York Times Wine Club. Six rare wines (four red, two white) for $90 per shipment, or $180 for the most exquisite Reserve Club varietals. Each bottle is paired with tasting notes and an NYT recipe. Europeans can sample Telegraph Wines, “one of the UK’s most respected wine merchants.” A case of six bottles of Prosecco goes for £54 and includes two complimentary Champagne flutes.

Spaceballs: The Flamethrower

The Telegraph doesn’t stop at wine. There’s a Telegraph Garden Shop, Motoring Shop, a travel shop for holiday cottages. You can buy earrings, duvet covers, snow boots, and clothes hangers. “They are the leading retailer of clothes hangers in the U.K.,” said Jeff Jarvis in an April 2010 Editor & Publisher story. The newspaper raked in a quarter of its profit in 2009 from selling things, he said.

The Onion cheaply repurposes tons of its own content into coffee-table books and framed prints. NPR, almost true to stereotype, sells “green gifts,” “gifts for gardeners,” and “gift for tea lovers.” None of those items have NPR branding, just the kind of things a typical NPR listener might like to buy. (And shoppers know their purchase helps support the news.)

The überaggregator Boing Boing sells stuff as weird as that which it aggregates, e.g., rubber finger tentacles, a remote-controlled flying shark, a bacon-scented air freshener. That site outsources the e-commerce software and payment processing.

Specialty iPhone apps

Santa's Hideout screen shot

There are plenty of smartphone and iPad apps that try to generate revenue for news organizations, but it’s less common for there to be an app that doesn’t have anything to do with the outlet’s journalism. Just today we wrote about Condé Nast’s new Santa app, which helps parents assemble and share lists of what their kids want for Christmas.

This summer Hearst Corp. launched its App Lab, a sort of digital R&D unit for the ad agencies who work with Hearst. It was Hearst that developed Manilla, a financial management product for consumers, earlier this year.

Events

In September, the web-only Texas Tribune launched the Texas Tribune Festival, a first annual symposium that brought together politicians, wonks, lobbyists, and others from the universe of Texas politics. (I interviewed editor Evan Smith about it this summer.) Tickets cost $125, but the real money comes from corporate sponsorships. In 2010, before the festival existed, the Tribune raised about $600,000 in event sponsorship, Smith told me. The Tribune festival was modeled on the New Yorker Festival, which also sells tickets and big-name sponsorships. Forbes follows a similar model for its CEO conferences around the world, but those tickets are a lot pricier.

Digital marketing services

Rubber finger tentacles

435 Digital is a Chicago consulting firm that does web design, SEO, and social media — actually, it’s a division of Tribune Co., but you would never know that from looking at its home page. The group is made up of the people who gave us Colonel Tribune and the ChicagoNow blog network.

GannettLocal, too, offers marketing services for local businesses that advertise in Gannett-owned papers. Condé Nast sells its in-house creative talent to advertisers, competing with the very agencies whose work fills the pages of its magazines.

Using reporters’ smarts

The Chronicle of Philanthropy, as I wrote this summer, packages its reporters’ in-house expertise about particular topics as paid webinars that cost as much as $96 apiece.

The premium content, the merch, the events, the consulting, the apps — they are all specialty products for niche audiences. Whether all of the offerings are making money is for another story.

“Last-minute shopping?” by Louise LeGresley used under a Creative Commons license.

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl