5 Common Misconceptions About Licensing Content

As more brands and businesses look to ramp up their content offerings to help drive new customers to their sites, and build relationships with existing ones, sometimes they hit a roadblock. They might run out of budget to create content in-house or hire freelancers, or they simply can’t scale their content production fast enough.

At that point, either the content becomes stagnant and traffic declines, or you must find other ways to keep your readers interested. That’s when bringing in licensed content can help. Before you assume that content licensing isn’t for you, you should learn what it actually is (and isn’t!).

Take a look at some common misconceptions about content licensing to help determine if it’s the right move for your business…

Buying content is super expensive. Buying and licensing content are two different things. When you pay for an outside party to create content for you, it is highly customized, and you’re paying for someone’s time and skills. With content licensing, although there is a cost associated, it is far less than the expense of creating or commissioning original content. On average, a basic reported story might cost $350 to produce in house or via a freelance contractor, but a similarly reported piece that’s already been produced from another source can be licensed for about $30, about 10 times less expensive. What’s more is that licensing is versatile, and allows you to repackage content into a variety of forms across desktop and mobile platforms.

It will diminish our authority if we go to other sources for content. Ideally, you’ll want to have a mix of your own content, with licensed content and other material filling in the gaps. That being said, if anything, readers will be more impressed to see you align your brand with reputable, trusted sources of information from journalistic organizations or top industry publications. What’s great about licensing agreements is that the content lives on your site, meaning you reap all of the traffic and social sharing rewards (instead of linking to content and sending readers away from your site).

Case in point: When Blue Cross Blue Shield Alabama relaunched its site with licensed content, monthly page views increased by 287% and unique visitors increased by 1776%. Continue reading

The Coming Age of the Curation Economy: Building Context Around Content

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The future is coming into focus. There is such clear momentum around a set of emerging behaviours that we can, without a doubt, project the exponential growth of raw unfiltered data.

Think of it like Moore’s Law for content. The speed, scale, and number of distinct elements of produced content will double every 24 months. Call it Rosenbaum’s Law — unless you know of someone who’s quantified the growth before today.

To be clear, the reason for this growth is that we’ve allowed three things to merge into one. As each of us enables more wearable technology and devices that invite us to ‘check in,’ we fill our personal channel with data. Our location, our weight, our order from Fresh Direct, our “Likes,” our Yelp reviews, our Instagram photos. This is raw data — unfiltered data — of little interest to anyone other than our close friends. But as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and others have increasingly defaulted our posts to “Public” visibility, we each add meaningfully to the volume of raw data on the web.

At the same time, those of us who produce content, as opposed to data, no longer look to lure audiences to find our material on our own blogs or sites. We collectively go where the audiences are, sharing our information in tweets, links, uploads, and posts. A single well-crafted post can find itself with four or five homes, each of them adding to the collective volume of information on the web. And as the web breaks free of the bonds of the desktop, and moves rapidly into mobile, our always-on, portable computers will generate content wherever you are. In fact, 2013 is predicted to be the year that mobile traffic desktop traffic.

And then there’s the emerging class of new digital devices that make content — from GoPro camera rigs, to the new video capabilities on the iPhone 5s, to the soon-to-be-unleashed Google Glass. Video is the fastest growing collection of raw information. And it is the hardest to contextualize or ‘scan’ before you engage the play button. Video consumes both bandwidth and attention in massive quantities — with little guarantee of useful data until it’s been engaged.

These things are facts. Raw data is growing at a rate we can hardly imagine — and it will only grow as devices and behaviors become more adept at raw-content creating.

A few facts to underline the trend:

Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, has famously said: “Five exabytes of information have been created between the dawn of civilization and 2003, but that much information is now created every two days, and the pace is increasing.”

According to Cisco, by 2016, 1.2 million video minutes — the equivalent of 833 days (or over two years) — would travel the internet every second.

And YouTube’s numbers reflect the dramatic grown in web video, with 72 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, which equals more than one hour of video being uploaded to YouTube every second. Today, YouTube is also the second-biggest search engine on the web.

So, if you accept the facts behind Rosenbaum’s Law — that the creation of raw content is going to double every two years — then the nature of consumption is what is going to change on the web.

The Curation Economy is built on some important, but I would argue inevitable, assumptions.

The Five Laws of the Curation Economy

The First Law: People don’t want more content, they want less. We’re overwhelmed in raw, unfiltered, context-free data. Humans want it to stop.

The Second Law: Curators come in three shapes. There are Curation Experts — people whose background and depth of understanding makes their curatorial choices valid. If you’re looking for medical advice, you want your video viewing curated by a doctor, not a patient. There are Editorial Curators, who manage the voice and the collections of the publications and sites they organize. And there are Passion-Driven Curators, they love their particular area of focus and attention and bring that single-minded focus to every piece of content they touch.

The Third Law: Curation isn’t a hobby, it’s both a profession and a calling. Curators need to be paid to be part of the emerging ecosystem. What’s a fair fee will depend on how critical the curator’s output is in the category. But an economic basis is essential, and inevitable.

The Fourth Law: Curation requires technology and tools to find, filter, and validate content at the speed of the real-time web. Curation can’t simply be a human with a web browser — the mix of man and machine is essential here.

The Fifth Law: Curation within narrow, focused, high-quality categories will emerge to compete with the mass-media copycats who are filling the curation space with lists, cat videos, and meme links.

The simple fact is this: The web used to be a relatively closed community of makers. In the past, anyone could browse the web, but content creators needed to have tools, literacy, and time to create and publish. In the past few years, the growth in mobile devices along with the widening definition of content from contextualized data to raw data has opened the floodgates of participation. I’m not arguing against this trend — far from it. What I am saying is this: With creation now ubiquitous and overwhelming, we must adopt new content organization and consumption methods in order to find meaningful information in the fast-moving data flow of the web.

The cure for information overload is coherent curation — data-driven discovery managed by skilled, thoughtful, and in some cases expert curators. Much as the quality of a restaurant is created by the chef, the quality of the curated end-product is going to be made by the curator. And that — without a doubt — creates new jobs, new opportunities, and even new economies in a world of information abundance.

Curate or be curated — that’s the new face of digital content in the always-on world.

© Article by Steven Rosenbaum

NewsCred’s Content Marketing Cloud Comes to Life

By: Shafqat Islam, CEO and Co-founder, NewsCred

Just a few short months ago I stood on stage at our Content Marketing Summit and introduced our Content Marketing Cloud to some of the most influential brand marketers, publishers, and agencies today. As we all agreed that day, content marketing is not a tactic. It’s a long-term strategy – and it will transform your business.

As I said then, our goal was to deliver something bold and ambitious, and today, we’re doing that with this revolutionary piece of transformative marketing software. We have completely overhauled the way we think about content from the moment of creation to the post-distribution analysis.

We’re changing the game for marketers. For the first time, in one place, you’ll be able to seamlessly plan, source, publish, distribute and analyze your content. The Content Marketing Cloud is truly end-to-end with enterprise grade workflow and collaboration, coupled with market-leading content recommendation technology, including both licensed and original content from The NewsRoom.

Great marketing is great storytelling. Change the way you think about content marketing with NewsCred’s Content Marketing Cloud.
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The Impact Of Mobile On Publishers — More Consumption, Less Revenue

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News organizations will continue to struggle as users transition from consuming media on computers to mobile devices.

Since the mid-1990s, the lifeblood of media companies online has been display advertisements. The balance between revenue from online subscriptions versus online advertising is shifting. As online and mobile advertising dollars are commoditized via advertising exchanges run by Google, Facebook, and AOL, publishers are increasingly trying to drive revenue through subscriptions. The New York Times announced a controversial paywall in 2011. Their two-year experiment has seemingly reaped significant benefits for the paper. In its most recent quarter, the New York Times reached 727,000 digital-only subscribers, generating $37.7mm of revenue. At the same time, advertising revenue declined for the 12th straight quarter, with digital advertising bringing in only $32.9mm. This is the first quarter that digital subscription revenue surpassed digital ad revenue; thus, validating the controversial decision to create a paywall.

At one time, Google was seen as a partner in the pursuit of growing digital revenues at media companies, but as those companies have struggled and Google has continued to invest more money in online advertising technology and in mobile devices that commoditize the advertising revenue of publishers. Unfortunately, mobile technology platforms exacerbate the trends in online display advertising.

According to the State of Media Report from Pew, a publisher can expect an average CPM (the standard measurement of advertising costs) of $3.50 on a computer. Meanwhile, that rate drops precipitously on mobile platforms. The CPM on mobile devices is only $0.75. With 62% of people reporting that they are getting their news on their mobile devices weekly, this difference in ad rates should alarm every publisher. The Wall Street Journal’s head of Digital Networks reported that the paper is getting 32% of its traffic from mobile devices today and expects to that number to hit 50% next year.

Publishers are combatting the advertising exchanges by selling branded content. Publishers allow brands to sponsor or host articles within the native experience of the online and mobile newspapers. The publishers are able to sell the content creation and distribution of the sponsored content at a significant premium to typical display advertisements. BuzzFeed, which is one of the most prolific distributors of branded content, sells a branded campaign for approximately $92,000. These campaigns come with creative articles and distribution via social networks, which BuzzFeed typically purchases after determining the most viral content that the brand sponsored.

Some purists consider sponsored content to be an alarming and new phenomenon, but as David Carr points out, Kurt Vonnegut was a freelance writer for General Electric in 1947. Additionally, in 1975, Esquire Magazine printed a 23-page article sponsored by Xerox and written by a Pulitzer-Prize-winning author. So there’s a precedent for this type of work.

These branded campaigns are important to publishers because the publishers can sell the native ads at a premium rate, and just as important to the future of publishers, these native ads seamlessly integrate into a mobile experience.

The dominance of the technology giants continues to grow in mobile advertising. Google now accounts for 55% of all mobile advertising. Despite this, publishers should recognize that there are significant advantages to mobile devices – they just need to find ways to capitalize on it. According to Pew, 43% of survey respondents are consuming more news as a result of owning a mobile device.

The only way publishers can compete with the tech giants going forward is to offer a unique product and distribution to a large audience. The unique product they offer is their branded content, but the publishers must find ways to distribute the content both to their audience and through social distribution. This is what BuzzFeed is mastering, and it’s imperative that the legacy publishers catch-up before they lose out on another revenue opportunity.

Copyright Newscred.

Content Curation More Valuable Than Content Creation

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Content Curation vs. Content Creation! Tons of print out there about this topic, and a few fundamental questions emerge: (1) What exactly IS content curation? (2) What’s the difference between Content Creation and Content Curation? (3) Which is more important? (4) Is it true that “if you don’t have time or resources for creating original content, you should then use the cheaper, quicker, easier option of content creation”? (5) Is Content Curation really just a nice name for scraping and plagiarizing?

As Content Marketing practice matures and develops, it’s always “worth it” to keep answering these same questions, giving better, more creative answers. I have addressed some of these questions in previous posts, but today I just want to look at ONE of these fundamental questions: which skill, creation or curation, is more valuable in the digital space?

First: What is Content Curation?

In answering that basic question, I have to first say a couple words about what I MEAN by “content curation”. It is NOT “easy peasy”, for it is not a mechanical, machine-generated product that simply finds content already in existence, and provides a link to that content. Content curation, as I have defined it elsewhere, is the art of pulling together information, boiling it down, and presenting it in an easy-to-absorb format for the specific people that are most in need of having that information.

Heidi Cohen assembled 19 definitions of Content Curation, and here are my favorites:

Content curation is the process of using technology to identify sources of content, which are then filtered through human curator for editorial relevancy to a select audience, and then redistributed in a way that tells a story and keeps that audience engaged over time. Nate Riggs
Content curation is the process of choosing the most relevant information to meet your readers’ needs on a specific topic like a good editor or museum curator. Content curation requires more than just the selection of information. It’s the assembling, categorizing, commenting and presenting the best content available. Heidi Cohen
Content curation is the process of identifying the most relevant content on a subject, then sifting and sorting through to cherry-pick the gems that you think will provide the most value to your audience or like-minded people. Kelly Hungerford
Now: Why is Content Curation more valuable than Content Creation?

The bandwagon for Content Marketing is picking up more and more passengers every day, and it’s picking up speed. There are 2 million new posts published on the internet every 24 hours. Yeah; T W O M I L L I O N !!! Most of us are pretty good at using the search engines to find what we want, but we still spend a LOT OF TIME trying to find an authoritative voice that can boil down all the competing voices of the experts, and help us find the “bottom line” and the “golden nuggets”. The created content is out there already. But there’s just too much of it! Our readers are desperate to find somebody that will filter it for them, analyze it for them, prioritize it for them, bring it into one place for them, and draw out the most salient points for them. This is the real art of curation, and it’s only GROWING in importance.

Why is content curation more valuable? Because you want more than one guy’s opinion! You want more than one gal’s bias! You want somebody to save you time, and to show you, month after month, that you can trust them to bring you the best and make it simple for you to digest it. This is what content curation provides, and we’re only going to need MORE of it as the volume of content keeps increasing.

Copyright, written by Ron VanPeursem.

To see the value of social media, watch what happened in Turkey when the local media failed

There’s been a lot written over the past few months about how unreliable social media can be when it comes to chaotic real-time news events like the Boston bombings, and how it perpetuates untruths and misinformation. But the flip-side of this equation becomes clear when you see what has been happening in Turkey this week, where the traditional media has either been asleep at the wheel or has deliberately avoided paying attention to large and ongoing demonstrations against the Turkish government.

Although it’s tempting to compare these events to the uprisings that took place during the so-called “Arab Spring,” sociologist Zeynep Tufekci — who also happens to be Turkish — has pointed out in a perceptive essay that what is happening in Istanbul is very different. For one thing, Turkey has a democratically elected government, and there has not been the same history of brutal repression as in Egypt and elsewhere. So this is not about the overthrow of a dictator.

Local media initially ignored the story

That said, however, there is enough popular dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Erdogan that what began as a small and peaceful protest over the building of a shopping mall has turned into a series of mass demonstrations against the authorities — events that appear to be fuelled by a number of issues, including the government’s aggressive redevelopment policies and some festering historical animosity towards the ethnic Kurdish population.

And what have the local media — or even the local branches of international media — been doing since this all began weeks ago? Mostly ignoring the demonstrations and paying attention to other things, including a special broadcast report about penguins that CNN Turkey chose to air in the middle of one of the largest demonstrations, to the chagrin of many Turks. Other channels broadcast cooking shows and historical documentaries.

Among the reasons given for the lack of coverage are the fact that some of Turkey’s major news entities are sympathetic to the Islamic government of Prime Minister Erdogan, and also that these large media conglomerates have corporate parents who are beholden to the government because of their interests in other businesses like mining and energy. In frustration, some of those involved in the protests started a crowdfunding effort in order to buy a full-page ad in the New York Times, and raised more than their goal of $53,000 in less than 24 hours.

Social media filled the news vacuum

In response to this information vacuum, social media has become even more important as a source of news about what is happening and where. Hashtags on Twitter and Facebook groups and other tools — including private mobile-messaging services, since the Turkish government has reportedly been blocking some public internet services — have become a crucial way of getting information for many Turkish residents. Just as they did in Tahrir Square in Egypt, these tools have allowed those who are experiencing the news to report on it themselves.

So while social media and tools like Twitter were criticized for doing damage to people’s understanding of what was happening during the Boston bombings or Hurricane Sandy, because of the false information being circulated, those same tools have become a lifeline for many in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey because their local media is not doing its job properly.
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In fact, Twitter became such a crucial tool for some of those in Turkey that the prime minister railed against the service, calling it “the worst menace to society.” And in a somewhat darker move — one that sounds a little more like Egypt or China than a democratic nation like Turkey — as many as two dozen protesters were detained by the Turkish authorities on Tuesday because they were accused of using Twitter to foment unrest, and charges could be laid.

Letting citizens know they aren’t alone

In her essay on the effect of social media on the way that information flows during such events (something she also wrote about while the Arab Spring was taking place ), Tufekci notes one crucial aspect of what Twitter and Facebook and other services do during such events: in a nutshell, they allow others to discover that they are not alone. The breaking down of this “pluralistic ignorance,” as Tufekci describes it — helped jump-start demonstrations in Egypt when decades of repression and poverty had been unable to do so.

In the end, social media and networked systems of all kinds accomplished in Turkey what the traditional media is supposed to but didn’t: namely, informing Turks about what was happening in their country, and at the same time letting those involved know that their voices were being heard by the government. And that is the real power of networked media.

Post courtesy of Newscred.

Four Myths About Content Syndication

As marketers continue to move into a space traditionally owned by publishers, they are likely to seek out best practices, tips and previous examples of what works, and what hasn’t. One surefire way to bulk up your audience from an engagement perspective is to leverage syndicated and licensed third-party content. By distributing interesting content that is relevant and valuable to your users, you can reach new audiences, regardless of the platform, while generating continuous traffic to your site.

However, be advised that several myths do exist when it comes to content syndication, which I define as legally distributing content to third-party sites. Below you’ll find four myths, and my rationale for why they should be ignored.

Myth #1: Syndication will eat your own audience

The reality: Some content creators are concerned that if they syndicate their original work, they will lose a portion of their endemic audience if existing readers can read their articles elsewhere. Although you don’t want other sites scraping your site for free content without a deal in place, syndication can place your articles in front of new eyeballs. Syndication can also help build your brand recognition and ultimately grow your own site’s traffic.

If you license your content to partner sites, you are also creating a new source of revenue. In fact, several of our publishers are receiving six figure checks from syndication deals by licensing their content through our distribution platform.

Myth #2: You don’t need to pay for content

The reality: Some new publishers mistakenly think they can pluck content from other sites without paying for it. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with recommending links to interesting content on the web.

However, creating commercial sites without compensating or properly attributing the journalists that worked to get the story is both unprofessional and unethical. You may also encounter legal issues for lifting content without permission, such as in the recent case of Meltwater v. the Associated Press.

Myth #3: Syndication is bad for SEO

The reality: There are too many self-appointed ”gurus” out there whispering misinformation about SEO and content syndication to their clients. This myth stems from the idea that search engines penalize sites with “duplicate content.” SEO is obviously important to traffic growth, so this issue warrants a closer look.

It is widely known that Google doesn’t like to recommend sites that consist of nothing but scraped content (see Myth #2). However, Google has no issue with syndicated content. What really matters to search engines is the distinction between shady content farming techniques and legitimate syndication.

Don’t believe me? Let Google explain: “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

The bottom line is that legitimate syndication through a platform like NewsCred means more pages that will be indexed, and does not affect your Google PageRank whatsoever. NewsCred has yet to see a client get blacklisted by a search engine after publishing syndicated content, and many of our clients garner millions of page views from search.

Myth #4: Brands shouldn’t pay for distribution

The reality: Brands are now putting journalists on their payroll, and these writers are producing high-quality content on their behalf. But just because a brand’s content is good doesn’t mean marketers should expect free distribution. After all, it’s still branded content with a commercial agenda, even though it’s being produced in-house or by an agency.

Publishers deserve to be compensated when brands want to access their audience. And paid distribution (whether traditional banner ads or sponsored content) is the lifeblood of the media ecosystem. If your agency thinks their PR team should be paid instead of the publishers that carry your content, you should question whether they have the best interests of the content ecosystem at heart.

Copyright NewsCred. Stefan Deeran / Client Sales Director