The Information Marketplace: Models and Methods

By Paschal, Allen | Information Today, January 2003 | Go to article overview

The Information Marketplace: Models and Methods


Paschal, Allen, Information Today


Information seekers value many things, among them quality, quantity, currency and completeness. Over the years, Gale's distribution strategy has evolved in tandem with these marketplace imperatives. We've carved out a place for ourselves that emphasizes breadth of content as well as ease-of-access. To these two concerns we've added the need to be entrepreneurial--to explore, experiment, and embrace emerging business models. These tactics combine into a strategy we call "one-stop-shopping" for our distribution partners. The strategy is driven by a quest to be the "knowledge behind the Internet."

Two themes strike us as critical in driving content into the hands of end-users. First, be sure end-users can find your content. This means placing content in a variety of different services and business models. To accomplish this, content providers need to create an overarching strategy for their assets. Second, be sure the content is searchable and retrievable. (This sounds easier than it really is.) Access to content is driven, in our judgment, principally by the metadata that accompanies the content itself. Hence, a robust taxonomy--integrated with individual data or full-text records--is critical for anyone producing or distributing information.

Breadth of Content & Ease of Access

Gale packages content for redistribution through multiple electronic channels outside its traditional library marketplace. Currently, Gale has content distribution arrangements in place with over 70 partners and resellers. Some are well-known names in the information industry--such as Dialog, Factiva, LexisNexis and OneSource. Others are perhaps less well-known: industry start-ups or niche players. But each customer plays a critical role in a comprehensive distribution strategy, one designed to balance risk with reward while ensuring that Gale's 800-plus databases obtain the exposure they merit.

Open Web. The open Web model has had its detractors, but carefully managed, it can bring benefits to all parties. So, for example, Gale supplies narrative biographical sketches to Biography.com, the open Web's leading source of free biographies and a companion service to the popular cable television network. Visitors to Biography.com can search on "Cecil B. DeMille" (or some other celebrity, states-person, or personality) and access a 1,000-plus word essay, supplied by Gale, which surpasses others commonly offered "free' on the Web. Such open Web distribution supports a number of objectives for content suppliers: (1) reaching consumers where they live, (2) finding new channels for content traditionally reserved for some other marketplace, and (3) driving incremental revenue. In connection with the Biography.com partnership, Gale also secured an endorsement for its "History Resource Center" from the History Channel (r), an affiliate of the A&E Network. Creating the link between the content supplier's brand and the distributor's brand is a "win-win" for everyone and an example of how relationships can hinge on more than just money.

Subscription model. Another distribution model is evident in Gale's relationship with Ancestry.com. Ancestry is a top Web presence with an impressive paid subscriber base. Ancestry's customers can search on a phenomenal range of genealogical records and profiles that assist in the building of family trees. Many publishers--not just Gale--contribute historical and biographical data to augment the value of Ancestry's services, and everyone seems to benefit. Ancestry's customers get access to richer databases, the suppliers gain greater exposure for their content and brand, and Ancestry has a stronger, more competitive product that leverages the best assets of the content industry. This distribution agreement led to another deal whereby Gale distributes to its core market, through its direct sales force of 300-plus sales representatives, a library version of the Ancestry product.

Transactional sale. …

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