What to look for when monetizing rich data

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In the nascent field of rich data, William Pollak can be called an experienced sage. After spending "in the low seven figures" building a searchable, relational database of court cases that now accounts for up to 10% of American Lawyer Media's revenue, CEO Pollak offers these tips on what to consider when creating a revenue stream from rich data.

n Don't think like a publisher. "We're taught to pay attention to the product we're creating and the sales and marketing of that product," Pollak said. In the rich data world, publishers need to think about how to structure data so it can be used in as many ways as possible.

n The more upfront work thinking about who the customers are going to be, the better. American Lawyer didn't want to be reliant on just trial lawyers for revenue, so Pollak took alternative audiences like insurance companies and PR agencies into account when organizing his database. "That helps gather all the pieces of data you think any kind of customer will want, and for each group you have to reshape the information," he said. "It's really hard to go back and fill a hole when you realize there's more information needed."

n Don't ignore the potential for alliances. "Not every piece of information in your rich data set will come from you-other parties will license data to you," Pollak said. For instance, American Lawyer gathers its verdict data from various outlets in several states.

n Don't think of rich data as very different from publishing. "It's much related to what we do in publishing," he said, noting that working with rich data involves taking information, adjusting it and providing it to an audience that needs to have it.

--Eileen Colkin

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