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Gale Aims to Streamline Content Acquisition With New Online Marketplace
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Posted On September 22, 2008
Gale has long been known for its vast pools of content and for serving the information needs of libraries—it has more than 50 years experience, in fact. What is less generally known is just how active Gale has been in distributing its content to other outlets—lots of other outlets. Did you know, for example, that the company sells articles and reference guides via Amazon’s eDocs program? Now, Gale is making it easy for all kinds of businesses—website owners, media outlets, publishers, research database providers, internet startups, and more—to license just the content they need for their site or service. The new service, AcquireContent.com (http://acquirecontent.com), offers more than 10,000 sources of content, from Gale and its licensed publishing partners, covering more than 500 different topic areas. The site has been in beta for several weeks while the company tweaked it in advance of its public announcement today.

The collection is broad-based, encompassing magazines, newspapers and newswires, academic journals, encyclopedias, and other reference works. The topics and types of collections are also broad, ranging from business trends, scholarly research topics, and health and wellness research to how-to topics, pop culture, entertainment, and more. As the site proclaims, "No matter how broad or niche your audience, we have the content that meets your needs."

The site provides a "quick three-step process" that lets prospective businesses browse and search to identify appropriate content, mark titles, create a collection, and then contact Gale for a quote to finish the licensing process. As industry veteran and consultant Corilee Cristou says, "The interface is simply designed, easy-to-use, and vague. No real use applications are referenced, as in ‘yes, the content may be used in an intranet, or on the open web,’ just the collections themselves, a call to action for a free trial, and order form. The Terms and Conditions on the site still reference ‘not for commercial use, personal use only’ terms of use."

"Content is still king, especially when it comes to building a successful business online," says Paul Mouton, director of business development at Gale. "With AcquireContent.com, you have instant access to a massive volume of unique and engaging content. And, if we don’t have exactly what you need, we have the capability to quickly create custom content that addresses your needs specifically."

Mouton explains, "In addition to our vast selection of periodical and reference content, we can provide customized content solutions to meet the unique needs of your business: from content creation to metadata and content taxonomy services, AcquireContent can apply its editorial and indexing resources to develop a solution customized to your requirements." Mouton says the company is leveraging the expertise of its current editorial staff and training them how to write "for the web."

Here’s the especially interesting piece of this new service—a content company that offers to provide not only specially commissioned content but also now offers to develop custom, white-label solutions for businesses that can include hosted webpages, search widgets, and ecommerce.

Gale has actually been testing various distribution models for its content for some years. Mouton says he feels it’s important to try different outlets and models and not rely on a single resource or method. "It’s like placing bets on a lot of different opportunities to spread out the risk," he says. In fact, Gale even has some test content up on Mochila (www.mochila.com), a content syndicator. Mouton says Mochila isn’t really a direct competitor. He calls it more of a passive technology marketplace, one that facilitates bringing buyers and sellers together and relies on the content to sell itself.

Mouton stresses that Gale has the expertise to pull this off, given its years of experience in aggregating, licensing, editorial production, and internet distribution. "The licensing process has always been very human intensive." By offering a one-stop shop, Gale hopes to reach out to new customers with sites and outlets that need content but need help in finding, selecting, and obtaining it. Many of these sites don’t want to interact directly with multiple publishers.

As for the relationships that Gale has with its partner publishers, Mouton says Gale hopes the new service will help expose their licensees’ brands and bring them even more revenue. For the last 5 to 6 years, Gale has offered to include third-party licensing arrangements in its contracts with publishers. Mouton says that some publishers agree to any of these deals upfront, some say yes to certain types of agreements, while some require consultation for each deal and others say no. The FAQ for AcquireContent reads, "We take each of our relationships very seriously and ensure that each agreement has value for both parties; as such, each potential partnership needs to be evaluated according to its specific and unique characteristics before we move forward with a potential licensing relationship." It also notes that "we may have restrictions on the content for use within a specific market or business model. For example, some content can only be used in subscription services, while other content can be used in freely available, advertising supported services."

Mouton also stresses that Gale is very committed to its library market. By reaching out and establishing Gale as a dominant brand, the company hopes to build credibility around such services as AccessMyLibrary (www.accessmylibrary.com), Gale’s library advocacy initiative to increase the visibility of library content on the internet and in search engines. The website allows consumers to have full access to the entire suite of Gale databases and full text that their library has licensed on their behalf.

Goliath (http://goliath.ecnext.com) is Gale’s online-business content service that has been around a few years providing global company and industry intelligence to business executives. Gale partnered with ECNext (www.ecnext.com) to produce the service (and for AccessMyLibrary as well). Goliath provides immediate online access to more than 5 million records including business articles, industry reports, company profiles, and executive contacts pulled from business data resources maintained by Gale. Mouton says they learned quite a bit from doing the service and the business has shown good growth.

Interestingly, ECNext then partnered with D&B on another business service. Manta.com, ECNext’s premium business information portal, is a site for researching company profiles. The site offers free research and pay-as-you-go business information on more than 45 million companies.

Another business site, AllBusiness.com (www.allbusiness.com), has been a licensee of Gale’s trade journal content for some years. According to the site’s vice president of marketing, Dan Silmore, Gale, has proven to be an excellent partner and has provided "terrific content" from excellent publisher partners. In an interesting twist, AllBusiness is a subsidiary of D&B, which acquired it in late 2007.

Gale, which is a part of Cengage Learning, also licenses its proprietary and licensed content for integration within many other web-based information services. Marydee Ojala, editor of ONLINE, says that Gale has one of the more innovative approaches to content distribution. Nearly 100 organizations—including Dow Jones, HighBeam Research, CNET, and Thomson Financial—have strategic business distribution partnerships with Gale. With the launch of the new AcquireContent, expect this number to go up quickly.

Cristou says that Gale "seems bent on becoming the ‘Food Club’ content supplier." She notes that, "Although similar business solutions have been available for some time from other content aggregators, LN Publish, Acquire Media (aka Newsedge), Comtex, and Dow Jones Client Solutions, to name a few, AcquireContent attempts to sell the content with minimal engagement from a sales representative … at least it’s putting content in as many places as possible, which will help users find it if not buy it."


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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