Ginny Everett, Director of Information Services for the Atlanta Journal Constitution's AJC.com site, is in charge of inventing new ways to make money with newspaper content online. As she puts it, "My role is to develop revenue streams from content for the largest newspaper in the Southeast."
Everett's first step was to place archived articles up for sale. The database was carefully developed to only contain content the AJC held total copyrights to. She says, "We decided to offer a day pass for $5.95 where visitors can view 20 full-text articles. We also offer a student day pass for $2.95 for ten articles, and a recurring monthly pass that automatically charges your credit card $9.95 every month for access to 100 full text articles. We just added a single month option about 60 days ago because we had people who wanted to use the archives for a few weeks but not forever. It costs $12.95 per month for 75 full-text articles."
Everett knew promotion was critical to the program's success. She chose a clever name "Electronic Library Cards" for the archive passes and added links to the archives on both of AJC.com's main navigation bars. After discovering that a healthy percentage of her business was coming from visitors seeking archived obituaries, she also added a promotion for obit archives to the left-hand navigation bar. The promo links to a special obits search page that's basically just fancy window dressing for the regular archives.
AJC.com has added a staff of three to generate revenues from online archive visitors' special requests. These include fulfilling requests for very old articles that are not in the database, dealing with Web sites seeking electronic reprint permissions, and even offering a live human research service at $40 per half hour.
Everett also added an online photo store to the site, which currently carries 250-300 images. She says, "The sports photos are the most popular. People can purchase them online in sizes from 8x10 up to poster size. They can also get photo embossed mugs, caps, t-shirts, and puzzles."
Encouraged by the store's success, Everett has now started selling Atlanta Journal Constitution print products in a store on the site. These include local school guides, printed compilations of columns and posters from pages in the newspaper. The products are promoted on the site and in the newspaper itself. The paper's promotions offer a choice of a telephone number and the site store for orders.
Last but not least AJC.com's articles are prepared every night prior to the next morning's issues, and sent to electronic content redistributors such as ScreamingMedia and Lexis Nexis.
Everett wasn't able to reveal exact figures, but happily admits she is "really pleased with the income generated by archives. It's been a really steady source of income that goes in the right direction!" She did give us a breakdown for buyers:
Student Day Pass $2.95 - 5% Regular Day Pass $5.95 - 30% Monthly recurring $9.95 - 56% Single Month $12.95 - 9% (note this is a new product that's still growing.)
ACJ.com has also had a lot of success generating reprint sales. Everett explains, "The Web has made a huge difference. We get tons of requests from sites who want permission to put an article on their site. It might be an article about them or of local interest." Everett is now considering automating this process through a service like iCopyright.com's.
The online photo store's sales have been more seasonal, with December reaping the biggest sales. Everett notes, "It's very events and promotions driven." Sales can reach $5000 a month. The printed products store is also doing well. Everett says, "I'm amazed! We just launched in November but already sales from promotions in the paper are split down the middle -- 50%/50% on the Web store versus the phone."
VENDORS: AJC.com uses Bell & Howell's ProQuest Archiver backend system to manage all their automated online archive sales. Everett told us, "ProQuest has been very responsive to our requests. I recommend them."
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