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May 17, 2000

Why iSyndicate's Prices are Going Up for Publishers: Interview with Brian McCracken

SUMMARY: In the past, we’ve advised you to drive traffic to your site by syndicating your hotlinked headlines to other Web sites through distributors like iSyndicate,, Desktop News and Several of you contacted us to demand, “More details please!” Since is your servant to command, we jumped right on it with this exclusive interview with Brian McCracken, Products Team Leader at iSyndicate
Q: What’s the pricing model on headline syndication? Seems like it’s changed recently.

McCracken: Headlines are still two cents per clickthrough. We are charging 5 cents and up for syndicating more complicated things -- search boxes, photos with clicks back, other types of graphics, etc. About six months ago we added a flat set-up charge for publishers joining the headline syndication program. It was $500 flat plus $500 prepaid clickthrough fees. Now it’s been raised to $1,500 flat plus $500 prepaid clickthroughs.

Q: Whoa! 300% increase in three months? Why, what do we get for that -- and will it go up again anytime soon?

McCracken: We want people to be serious about being participants and to recognize value in being part of our group. You do get a lot for the money though; we announce you in our biweekly newsletter to our 200,000 affiliate sites and add your name to our “New” content category for two weeks. We also add you to our quarterly press release. In addition, there is some work on our end to get set-up to receive your headlines and often publishers have questions that need answering. By the way, this is a fee per publisher, not per title so it’s a deal for multi-title or multi-site publishers. And yes, that $1,500 could easily increase another $1,000 in next 6 months so sign up today!

Q: What kinds of content are the most popular for your affiliates? Which types of headlines will get picked up by a lot of sites?

McCracken: Right now we’re strongly interested in content that’s good for sending to wireless devices; has some type of international appeal; or that is localized to a particular city. The most popular content (and this is true for full syndication too) is top news, general technology news, business and finance and sports. We’re also seeing more interest in health, entertainment and some lifestyle demographics are emerging as valuable.

Q: What about niche publishers?

McCracken: the most popular niches are adventure sports, pharmaceutical industry coverage (not at the most granular level, though), technology, telecom business and anything for financial professionals.

Q: How long does it take for a publisher to start syndicating headlines with you? The site says a few days, but it seems longer.

McCracken: Once we’ve taken a look at your site and determined that your content is a good fit and you are technically set up to reliably deliver content in the format we prefer, it only takes a week or two. But a lot of content providers contact us who aren’t ready yet. People should really read the technical requirements at our site before they contact us. Your headlines and links should be in a clearly delineated, consistent format, on a page separate from your Web site, and clearly marked by product, if you’re feeding us more than one.

Note: Brian later emailed us the technical link, it’s:

Q: OK, let’s quickly talk full syndication. What’s your deal there, and how much money are publishers making by selling their content through you? And how are you different from Screaming Media?

McCracken: It’s our main business -- headline syndication is more of a relationship builder for us with publishers and sites; full content syndication is our bread and butter. Getting set up as a content syndicator is free. Then we pay you a standard 50% cut of sales on a quarterly basis. That’s only negotiable for really big huge name brand companies. Unlike Screaming Media, who break your content into articles and then sell them to sites as an aggregated topical group with other people’s content mixed in, we attach value to your brand. Site owners specifically select and purchase your brand’s content and it runs with your name on their site.

Also unlike Screaming Media, who sell content as text that’s all the same price per article -- no matter whether it comes from the New York Times or BusinessWire, we price your content -- depending on your brand name, the content type, its shelf life, the length of articles, etc.-- in order to maximize value of brand for each provider. The lowest level sale is $250 a month per brand per site. So if we syndicate your content to a single site for one year, at 50% you’ll net $1,500. Right now we have 350 sites buying content from us and that number is growing rapidly. Some of the biggest brands working with us are grossing six figures per month. The best way to increase your sales is to coordinate with our sales force. You can come into our San Francisco office and present to them or meet at shows.

The other difference between iSyndicate and Screaming Media, for now anyway, is that we also syndicate rich media like streaming audio, video, private label calendars, calculators, stock quotes, weather, sports scores, you name it. It’s not just text content anymore.
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