Content Strategies: new revenue streams

Not starting on time. Fun fun fun.

Okay. Participants:

  • Diana Stepner, Pearson @dianas
  • Nicholas Lovell, Games Brief @nicholaslovell
  • George Walkley, Hachette UK @walkley
  • Marcus Woodburn, Ingram Content Group, @ingramcontent
  • Martin Davies, Wiley-Blackwell.

Marking people like that based on where they are employed seems positively feudal to me. But I guess it's what you do in a hierarchical society like ours.

Diana Stepner, Head of Future Tech.

Always Learning. Pearson Plug & Play.

Make aspects of Pearson's content available externally (APIs, I guess.)

Background in tech. 'Bring insights back into the company.'

What is Pearson. (Huge. e.g. the library hating Penguin)


  1. Open data approach.
  2. APIs (data feed, so that's read only)
  3. Developer ecosystem

API is about regulating and automating the reuse of data (i.e. APIs as an RSS/Atom lookalike, not as a platform). Making content more machine-readable and for machine to machine interaction.

Developers are key because they make the apps and are responsible for the innovation. Provide content to developers, they cater to their niches, Pearson's brand gets spread. (Loadsa marketing speak in her talk. Skipping a lot of it.)

They started this to…

Increase in sales by pulling in third parties to sell and distribute products.

Increase innovation. This is to leach outside expertise and and get novel insights for free.

Increase customer satisfaction. Gives them what they want when they want it.

Increase reach. Get to places they couldn't otherwise.

Have a portal where devs can find out about what they can do, documentation, etc. (I.e. tell devs about it, duh.)

Their process is from January 2011 for Discovery, then Preparation, then Release in June, then evaluate in December 2011. (They actually asked devs what content they wanted and how.) Talked a lot with devs and iterated quickly. (Sounds like they behaved like a software co with this project, rather than the geriatric pace most publishers tend to walk at.)

Three datasets selected. Availability was core to selection. As was usefulness to developers. (i.e. if you are going to partner you need to share something of value.)


DK's eyewitness London Travel Guide. (Obvious value.)

FT Press. Business stuff. (Also obvious)

Dictionary stuff.

They gathered feedback at every stage: Formats. Commercial models. API management platform. Build interfaces to make data accessible. Selected partners for showase applications.

Also provided sample code, worked with selected partners who built sample apps with sample code to download and read.

Devs are interested in code. (duh.)

This was all before launch, it looks like.

Provided a sandbox. (good!). Exploration test area.

Went to developer events around the world. (Android events, Mozilla events, mobile, quite a variety of platforms and geographical locations. Looks like they put a lot of money into this.)

Evaluation: Keep going. Apply lessons learned. New datasets. Expand.

Good stuff.

Nicholas Lovell. 'How to make money where free is the normal price.' (The games industry is turning this into an art form.)

His focus is on games. Thinks the transformation games have undergone will hit all entertainment industries. As content goes digital, prices goes free. (Not necessarily, but YMMV.)

Publishing isn't about content, but about distribution. Content costs are minuscule compared to distribution and marketing costs. Publishers add value through distribution. Ah, he says they used to add value through distribution.

New digital outlets, internet, have replaced retail. Great news for content creators. Easier to make a living, not so much in terms of making bucket loads of money.

He estimates that 50% of people in content distribution will be out of work over the next decade. (I think he's low-balling that estimate).

Show me the money. Physical distribution has a single price (gross simplification, but anyway). Some would pay less, some more.

Allow users to pay what they want, he believes you will make more money. Those who have done so have made more money. (Yeah, but they were all MMORGs of some sort.)

95% played fro free. 80-90% of revenues come from 0.5% of users, spending $50-$10000. (Squeeze the hardcore more, a model that didn't serve Comics well.)

NIN example (the standard example, they all quote Trent. Techdirt's got the best writeup of it, IMO). Trent had many stages of pricing, from $0 to lots. Sold everything out. (Actually Nicholas is fibbing here. Trent didn't give his content for free, just the first disc out of five. And he has fanatical fans.)

Secret to make money: Enables you to give for free and find customers who will pay a premium.

George Walkley and Woodburn.

Talk about the collaboration between Ingram and Hachette UK (whoops).

Spurred by the iBookstore UK launch. Tight deadline but the in house supply chain couldn't cope. Ingram came recommended.

Digital asset management and distribution. Distributes for 900 publishers. 160+ Distribution partners. 180000+ titles. 150+ countries.

(They are veering into nonsense buzz-speak. Finding it hard not to yawn and swear loudly.)

Anyway, they built a new service, grew quickly, does a lot of stuff for publishers.

Why does Hachette want to work with a partner? It's about managing and mitigating complexity above all else.

Hachette UK: Guiding principle is that publishers should maintain creative control of their ebooks. Group Digital Department helps.

Digital is quickly becoming a big part of their business. Can't get it wrong.

Channel growth: Was just amazon and OverDrive. As ebook retailers multiply and distribution channels grow, they really have to partner to reach them all.

Commercial models: Agency for ebook sales in UK, EEA, Australia and Canada. Wholesale elsewhere. Selling in 141 territories. (There's more, but he's just outlining the complexity of international distribution.)

Metadata: Onix 2.1, largely.

Inventory growth (manager-speak for making more and more ebooks available.)

(More talk about how big and complex the issue of distributing stuff for one of the big publishers really is. Then talk about how Ingram made it simpler.)

(I hate that their go-to word is 'content', but never mind.)

Ingram Future: More complexity. More formats. More retailers. More global. More colour 'content' (bleh, that word again). More chunking. More reason for big publishers to partner with Ingram.

Hachette: More new stuff. More standards. Same. Same. Same.

Marcus Davies. Wiley-Blackwell.

STMS (What?)

Marcus Davies. Wiley-Blackwell.

STMS (What? Expand your acronyms people!)

Customers: Libraries. Faculty. Students. Individuals.

Growth through aggregated platforms. Shift from publisher to library, to supplier to library.

Collections are becoming important (medical texts, journals, etc.)

Demand for anytime access. But, who will pay, how and for what?

Students and faculty don't use digital content and VLEs/MLEs (gah, expand your acronyms!) because there isn't anything there and they're useless (my phrasing, not his).

Work with libraries to figure out new ways of charging them hand over foot (again, my phrasing, not his). Usage based payments. Rentals. Multiple unit pricing. Patron-driven acquisitions. (This really sounds like libraries are made to pay much much more than any other sector in publishing.)

Wiley Faculty Network. (Sounds like a blablabla social play. Again, YMMV.)

In-book advertising using links in the text of the book to Wiley books. (Sarcasm fails me. Imagine sarcastic remark here.)

Enhanced, interactive, exploitation of current print-based brands, SEO, they whole online marketing kaboosh.

Apps or not to app? They're not Rovio (he actually says that he's not an angry bird, but really, it should be the name of the dev).

Loadsa plays and propositions. New and fun ways to charge people.

Future: Bright for content. Books optional (including ebooks). Flexibility key. (and healthy dollops of greed.)