I've seen an upsurge in syndication deals and syndication-sales-hopes recently. Two examples: Financial Content who I first wrote about two years ago have gone from selling a few clients $200 per month feeds to selling lots of clients $1500 per month feeds; while Edmunds.com started powering the New York Times auto pages last week. http://www.nytimes.com/autos/
Yes there is a little more money these days, and far fewer players scrambling for their slice of the pie. I suspect the true reason for some sites' success is service. You're not in the content industry, you're in the service industry. The easier you can make it to buy content from you, the more you'll sell licenses.
In the case of my two examples, Financial Content's site's testimonials all focus on that service aspect. "Your team was always accessible, helpful and willing to do what it takes to get the job done." writes one client. "Implementation has been remarkably seamless and smooth," says another. http://www.financialcontent.com/web/clients.shtml
This Monday Edmunds.com launched a major site revamp with the specific goal of "offering unsurpassed flexibility and modularity for efficient syndication."
On a side note, last Friday night I was chatting with Seana Mulcahy VP, Director of Interactive Media Mullen whose team buys hundreds of millions of dollars in online ads each year. http://www.mullen.com
"Online publishers make it impossible to buy from them!" she ranted. She's one of many media buyers who are increasingly frustrated with the lack of standards so art departments have to resize and redo ads constantly for each different site (the cost of which really adds up) and how hard it is to make an integrated ad buy across all of a single media company's channels without negotiating and cutting multiple insertion orders.
Online advertising is to some degree also a service business. Being easier to buy from than your competitor may be a highly significant advantage. It's not content + eyeballs = profits. It's content + friendly service = profits.
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