Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Content Monetization: Fighting Unlicensed Content Republication Via Distribution Networks And Ad Sharing

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As content can be copied indefinitely and distributed instantaneously across the web, web publishers need to cooperate and partner with their peers to create free content distribution networks - collections of blogs and web sites where they can freely syndicate and republish their original content. Why?

Photo credit: simonkr and Max Gladwell mashed up by Daniele Bazzano

In the rapidly changing online publishing landscape that exists today, the old mantra "If you can't beat 'em... join 'em" seems to ring truer than ever. Publishers, large and small, have long tried to find effective ways to fight against those who re-use and re-publish their content without permission.

But finding site editors, webmasters who hide under a barrage of protective layers, takes lots of time and it is often as ineffective as sending out DMCA or takedown notices. Smart web publishers are beginning to realize how ineffective and time-consuming is to continue to send these draconian cease-and-desist letters to those republishing their content, especially if they want to survive and thrive in the future.

This problem is not limited to independent web publishers however. The video game and movie industry have been fighting this same loosing battle for years. Even today there is a report that the Sony Blu-ray DRM has been broken and Chinese pirates are moving unauthorized copies of HD discs.

If DRM doesn't stand a chance while scraping and RSS republishing become easier by the hour, what chance do web publishers have in hoping to control the unlicensed distribution of their content?

None. But...

The time has come for publishers to embrace change. The creation of new online content distribution networks, through which content can be easily shared and freely re-published, may be the possible road to their salvation.

If you think about it, sharing online ad revenue between content publishers can create new monetizing opportunities / revenue streams and partly recoup the revenue loss caused by the above listed unauthorized content republication practices.

Sharing online ad revenue through partnerships with other publishers... bloggers... and others, who would take their content and re-publish it anyway, could indeed be for many, the very best course of action.

Intro by Andre Deutmeyer

Atomized Content: The New Reality


Publishers today face a changing online landscape, one in which users are taking control of how and where they view content. Rather than going directly to the destination sites of specific publications, users discover content through blogs and other non-traditional sources. These new publishers often re-purpose and sometimes completely republish content without attribution.

Industry observers have called this development the "atomization" of content, and many believe it poses a significant challenge to publishers. "It is potentially more disruptive to big traffic sites than Web 2.0 was," says Steve Rubel, SVP and Director of Insights at Edelman Digital. "If almost all content can be lifted from one spot and placed somewhere where it's more convenient to the user, just how will it be monetized? The ramifications reach far and wide."

With these new realities come new opportunities. Forward-thinking publishers are already embracing the trend, freeing up their content to be distributed off of their destination sites. This strategy allows you to increase offsite ad revenue, drive more traffic to your site, and find new opportunities for licensing and syndication. This whitepaper looks at the ongoing changes and suggests ways you can survive and thrive in this evolving content landscape.

Extracting Value From Offsite Content Distribution


The rise of atomized content requires fundamental changes in how you deliver content to your consumers. "The challenge is that [publishers] will lose control of their distribution systems," explains a recent report from Jupiter Research. "But... those who try to retain control of their distribution will likely fall behind their competitors."

Still, letting content "go free" does not mean giving up ownership or copyrights. Nor does it mean that you will be creating articles, images, and videos, only to have third parties benefit from them. Instead, you have merely relinquished control over where your content appears. To compensate for this, you need new ways to profit from the offsite appearance of you content. These include valuable editorial insights and innovative monetization strategies, such as link building, licensing, and ad revenue sharing.

Gaining Insights From Web-Wide Visibility


The first step in developing an offsite content strategy is to find out who is re-using your content and in what context. With technologies available today, you can closely track the republication of articles and other assets, wherever they appear the Net.

One advantage of this increased visibility is a deeper understanding of what your customers want. This is particularly valuable for publishers that syndicate their content. For the first time, near-real time metrics on how your licensees are using your content are available, enabling you to tailor your content offerings, identify upsell opportunities, and increase revenue. For example, Reuters recently reported that content tracking enabled it focus on more popular styles of articles. "We have been a little surprised [online readers] are moving more toward fluff stories, infotainment," says Reuters' Maria Molland, SVP and Global Head of Strategy and Business Development. "As a result we are putting a lot more editorial resources behind sport and lifestyle."

Links As The Currency of The Web


Traditionally, links have been considered a method of attribution or branding your content. While this still holds true, a process called link building offers a significant opportunity for increasing traffic and revenue. Simply put, link building involves getting other sites to link back to the original appearance of an article, image or video.

For leading web sites, link building is one of the most powerful traffic-generation tools available on the Internet today. The reason is not merely because readers click on links and bring your site direct traffic. Far more important is the effect that links have on search engines. Most publishers today receive a substantial portion of their visitors from keyword searches on sites like Google or Yahoo. A great example is The New York Times, where search drives more traffic to its site than any other source.

To understand the role link building plays in increasing such traffic, it is necessary to understand how search engines work. Search engines continually scan the Internet cataloging the content for leading web sites. For each set of key words search engines return a list of results. These results are based on complex algorithms to assess how important or relevant each site is. The sites the search engine deemed most valuable by the search engine are ranked first.

The number of inbound links to a site is a very important factor in determining this ranking, mainly because links help search engines assess how authoritative a site is. Experts in the field often refer to this quality as "domain strength." While there are many contributing factors, sites that have many links to them, in general, have greater domain strength than those that do not.

By tracking the use of your content off your destination site, you can identify opportunities for link building.

Many bloggers and other non-traditional publishers are not as careful about providing attribution as they should be - reports indicate that 50-65% of all republished content does not link back to the original web site. By securing a link whenever your content is re-purposed, you can increase the authority of your site. That, in turn, can drive additional search traffic and increased revenue.

Unlimited Licensing Potential


As a publisher you are almost certainly interested in reselling content to other media outlets. But finding potential partners in this field can be a challenge. How can you identify sales leads? Which ones are potentially valuable, and which are not worth the effort?

By gaining insight into who is republishing your content, you may be able to discover publications or media outlets who are good potential partners. An additional advantage of offsite tracking comes after licensing agreements have been reached. By learning how your licensed content is being used, you can optimize your content offering.

Advertising That Follows Content


There is little doubt that the Internet is being propelled by advertising. According to IDC, U.S. online advertising totaled over $25 billion in 2007, representing a 27% increase over 2006.

Savvy publishers are demanding that the commercial sites repurposing their content also share ad revenue. This approach can be particularly useful when dealing with smaller sites that lack the traffic and resources to qualify for a licensing agreement.

The technology to share revenue exists today on platforms such as Google AdSense that allows you to receive ad revenue automatically, regardless of where your content appears. In this model, you would set your content free, but attach an ad sharing agreement to it that follows the content whenever it is used.

The result will be a new and vibrant content marketplace, where publishers benefit regardless of where their content appears.

Originally written by the Attributor team and first published on March 1st 2008 as "Set Your Content Free (and Monetize It)" - Reprinted with original author permission

Photo credits:
Atomized Content: The New Reality - SSilver
Gaining Insights From Web-wide Visibility - vacuum3d
Links as the Currency of the Web - Danabeth55
Unlimited Licensing Potential - logos
Advertising That Follows Content - vacuum3d

Attributor Team -
Reference: Attributor [ Read more ]
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posted by Andre Deutmeyer on Tuesday, November 18 2008, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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