As we promised in last week’s issue, here’s Part II of our exclusive interview with Charles Terry, President & CEO of COMTEX Network News.
Q: Are you looking for relationships with any new publishers?
Terry: We’ve got about 18,000 stories coming into the shop a day now -- mostly real time. We’re looking not so much for new sources, as we are new sources for content we can put into context.
Financially oriented content is an important market for us. We’re driven to aggregate anything that’s tracking public companies because somebody like Stockpoint will co-brand our service. Those guys are resellers for us big-time with more than 100 clients they sell content to. So we’re looking for anything we can add to make their products stronger. We’ve added Standard & Poors, Briefings.com, in context, in the way they want to use it -- pre-indexed.
Other markets are entertainment news, and local community and financial information. What Podunk Weekly says about layoffs at plant is different from what UPI stringer from 300 miles away says.
Q: iSyndicate and ScreamingMedia among others are going full throttle into broadband (audio, rich media and video) content distribution. What are you doing in that area?
Terry: Multimedia is going to pay very, very big. Our first entry is a joint project with ON24. They host the audio and video portion of an interview. It doesn’t draw people away from the Web site they are on. They function as a media player which nobody views as another web site. Imagine our Stockpoint customer can click on multimedia now without leaving the site -- and Stockpoint doesn’t have to host audio and video and nor do we. That’s ON24’s business!
Q: How much money are publishers actually making with you?
Terry: They do make real money with us because we are getting money up front; and as our revenue grows so does theirs. If you do some homework and look at our SEC documents you can figure out something more.
We’re selling a great healthcare feed, an energy feed … it’s hard to reproduce; it has value; and that generates real dollars. As opposed to sites that are stuck with trying to generate revenues with just advertising. Only 20% of ad dollars are left after the top 10 Web sites make their ad sales. I try out all push things and turn them all off after a while. Your email box gets full.
Q: What do you think about the future of for-fee content on the Web?
Terry: We’re starting to see a resurgence of transaction and subscriptions. I’m not quite sure where it’s going to go, given the size of audience today and strategic necessity of publishers to take advantage of it. There’s going to be a need for high value content that never ever will be given away. The Web will play in marketing, the enhancement and the delivery of that. The days of every story you read on Dialog for $1 are gone; but putting content in context, people will pay for that.
We’re adding the infrastructure. It’s hard work dealing with real time. Imagine if your system goes down for 30 minutes, imagine having to call all the publishers to get news retransmitted. It’s going to be a nightmare!
Q: Is Comtex also getting involved in the whole “adding ecommerce to content” trend that’s going on these days?
Terry: There’s something there somewhere underneath that pile. I think we’re going to facilitate that if our customers desire it and our publishers don’t object.
I’m not going to put up something that’s going to benefit me to the detriment of my publishers though. I’m not going to put a link to Amazon because a story has a book about Bill Gates. My customer might be selling to [Microsoft Competitor] Sun Microsystems and they might not want to have a link in there for that. We’ll probably add the capability with meta data if our customers want to do that. With our meta data you can have intelligent links to your advertisers and make those connections.
These days everybody’s changing their business model, scrambling to find a way to grow the bottom line.
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