Divining dollars from rich data

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Lists, rankings, ratings and directories are staples of b-to-b content. In the paper world, lists would be tacked up on walls and directories locked in top drawers because they are so precious. In digitized form, customers can manipulate the data themselves, making them even more valuable. Even so, many b-to-b media companies still leave money on the table because they're not organized to package and market rich data.

At Prism Business Media, AnnMarie Wills, who had been director of database business development, helped create her new job as publisher of ancillary data products because, she said, "I saw so many inherent opportunities to create new data products by repurposing, retooling and enhancing information and expertise we already have."

While she didn't want to give away too much about products under development, Wills offered an 18-month-old data product, EWHotspots, as an example of what is to come. EWHotspots combines seven different information sources—including third parties, government statistics and Prism's electrical titles—then overlays tools that allow electrical products manufacturers and distributors to develop sales prospect lists, conduct local market analysis, calculate market share and prepare customized maps.

An annual license for EWHotspots costs about $10,000. "This is generally used by high-level people, so the time it saves them in not having to put all this data together themselves is well worth that price," Wills said.

Two years ago, ALM launched ALM Research Online. Ellen Siegel, VP-licensing and business development, explained that the online information service comprises more than a dozen information sources from within ALM, which publishes American Lawyer, The National Law Journal, Corporate Counsel and several state-focused legal publications.

ALM's research product is centered around lists, surveys and rankings that have been published by the various publications going back as much as 29 years, including ALM Law 200, NLJ 250 and Global 100. A base subscription to ALM Research Online costs $3,500; a premium subscription is $8,500.

Siegel said the tools that allow users to easily manipulate and analyze the information are as critical to the product's success as the data. "Everything in the system is based on decision trees that allow the user to drill down from broad categories to more narrow ones," she said.

While the primary target for subscriptions has been law firms, Siegel plans to develop new products tailored to other audiences. "Once you get your content into the right searchable format and you see how rich it is, it opens up lots of new ideas," she said.

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