Lexis Nexis and NYT broaden Internet sales

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As content floods the Internet from sources ranging from medical institutions to retail stores, some of the well-known media and information providers are beginning to push strategies that capitalize on brand.

Some of the newest efforts include proprietary information search and retrieval provider Lexis Nexis, which is expanding onto the Web this summer, and the New York Times on the Web, which last month began charging a fee for archived content.


The two companies also have a strategic relationship--Lexis Nexis uses New York Times content as one of its 18,000 sources. However, neither company sees this as a conflict on the Internet because of the two different audiences served. Lexis Nexis serves businesses with a wide range of sources, and the New York Times on the Web serves a consumer audience with its own content only, executives said.

"Certainly the dynamics over the Web have affected both business information services and the consumer publishers, and they are starting to come together somewhat, but they are still distinctly different," said Chris Charron, analyst with Forrester Research. Business information aggregating services, including Lexis Nexis, Northern Light and Dow Jones Publications Library, are being pushed by the Web to change from charging a few users a lot of money to more users who pay less money, he said.


Lexis Nexis' plans include a launch of its redesigned Web site this summer that puts its products onto the Web for easier access, and therefore attracts more customers.

"More and more people are becoming comfortable with the Web and have told us they would like to access our information through the Web," said Steve Edwards, Lexis Nexis manager of employee and interactive communications. "Obviously one of the main objectives is to enforce our brand image."

Lexis Nexis users will still need an ID and account to pay for the search service; however, the proprietary dial-in software now loaded onto individual machines will not be necessary with Web access.


K2 Design, New York, is handling the relaunch, planned for July. "This is a new opportunity for them to expand their customer base. It's a great way for mid-size and smaller businesses, in the absence of having a proprietary network, to get to their information," said K2 General Manager Rick Robinson. "We're excited because this creates a whole new face for Lexis Nexis to the online community."


For the New York Times on the Web, selling archived articles on the Internet is a way to generate revenue while giving its customers a valuable additional service. Two plans are available; $9.95 per month for five articles; or $2.50 per article.

"The value of our brand is something that does give us a lot of significant value," said Chris Niemeth, VP-director of sales and marketing for New York Times Electronic Media Co. "What we're seeing in the Internet space is that unless you have high-value content for paid services, there's going to be a natural downward pressure to lower the cost."

Other media seem split on the question of charging for archives. The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe sites charge for access to their archives. Others, such as the San Francisco Chronicle/Examiner newspaper site, do not.

"The bigger names in publishing have a wider audience, a better brand and very deep archives that are valuable to a lot of people, so they're more likely to make money with archives than smaller names. Still, that will not pull newspapers into the black. In the end, advertising revenue is what will support them," Mr. Charron said.

Copyright May 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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