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Avoid cookie-cutter content sales

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Rich Kreisman, principal partner-Kreisman Information Consulting and affiliate analyst at Outsell, advises clients on the develop-ment of content licensing, syndication and distribution partnerships. Media Business: What do publishers need to have in place to build licensing revenue? Rich Kreisman: From a systems standpoint, they need to do an audit of their own internal content manage-ment systems to make sure third parties can access content and bring that content onto their plat-forms. Can the content be converted to HTML or HTML5? Many publishers have invested in doing that, but because there have been so many acquisitions and consolidations, they're revisiting that, looking at the various properties and the systems that they are on. That's the key: to get content out of your systems and to deliver it in a format that a third party can manipulate, not just in a Word format but something that is more actionable than that. That's the starting point. On the business side of things, it's having the infrastructure in place, having a business development group that is looking for opportunities in the marketplace in a strategic manner and not just in a reactive manner. MB: What factors should publishers weigh when developing prices? Kreisman: They need to understand and define very carefully how the content is going to be used. I've seen a lot of (challenging) situations, particularly with start-up companies that come to publishers and want content, (but) are not themselves that clear about how they might ultimately use it. That becomes difficult to price. Really probe your customer: Is it just going to be used on a website? Is it going to be used on multiple platforms? Understand what their pricing model is, because your content is going to be folded into a cost of goods, into their ultimate cost and price model. It's very important for a publisher ... looking at licensing to be flexible. This is usually additional revenue that is very profitable because the content has already been created. So there usually is leeway to be creative in terms of coming up with a deal that will work well for both parties. There are a lot of levers, and I'm hesitant to generalize because there are so many variations. Each deal is unique; it's not cookie-cutter selling. Once a publisher has some experience with licensing, once they get four or five deals under their belt, then pricing norms develop. —C.W.
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