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Two New Syndication Services for Digital Content: Mochila and BlogBurst
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Posted On April 3, 2006
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Two new content licensing efforts have emerged—one focuses on licensing magazine content at a more “granular” level than available before; the other focuses on bridging “new era” content with traditional. Last Monday a new syndication service, Mochila (http://www.mochila.com), opened a service designed to license content for publisher Web sites at the article level. This Wednesday, a new service called BlogBurst (http://www.blogburst.com) from Pluck Corp. (http://www.pluck.com) will formally launch a service designed to license blog content to newspaper Web sites. Both services have initially focused their content gathering on lifestyle content, such as health, finance, travel, home, gadgetry, automotive, women’s issues, food, entertainment, local news, etc. Both services have careful procedures to verify the quality and legitimacy of content providers and licensees.

Mochila

According to the Mochila press release announcing the new service, news syndication revenue reached just under $2 billion in 2005 and is forecast to reach $3 billion by 2008. Most wire services and other syndication outlets require buyers to subscribe to specific content flows, though some services, e.g., Tribune Media Services’ NewsCom, do offer “a la carte” access to registered users. Much news wire and syndicated content comes in bulk flows, e.g., daily or weekly columns, cartoons, stock quotes, TV schedules, etc. Usually major news outlets supply the features and news content.

Keith McAllister, CEO of Mochila, wants to bring magazine content, as well as press reports, to newspapers and other publishing outlets and Web sites. He pointed out that newspapers have a long history of buying content, such as that supplied by the wires and news syndication services, but have not had the option to tap published content from magazines, including articles, photos, and graphics. The biggest barrier to developing such content transactions has been the complex licensing issues involved. Mochila hopes to simplify the process through sophisticated XML-based automation and open up new revenue opportunities for magazine publishers.

The Mochila service allows sellers of content to control all the licensing issues by setting prices, licensing rules, embargoes, and exclusions, including geographic control, and all adjustable for each unique content unit. Embargo restrictions, McAllister told me, could even enable some material to reach buyers before being published by the content owner or it could set time lags for using the material. The embargoes could be set to cover entire publications or single items. Content providers frightened by the fluidity of digital material can rest assured, according to McAllister, that Mochila will provide auditing “way beyond the industry standard,” but he also stated that they couldn’t expect to handle every existing problem of people stealing data.

Registered buyers of information can search a database of available content or have content matching their interest profiles forwarded to them. The database allows buyers to locate content by subject, publication, date range, and author; review the content and licensing provisions; choose what they want for their “shopping cart;” and have their purchases downloaded immediately.

Advertisers can have ads placed on content transmitted by Mochila. If the publisher licensing the content agrees to place the ads from Mochila’s advertisers on their Web site with the content, then they do not have to pay the licensing fees for the article. Both content sellers and buyers participating in the Mochila Ad network share in the advertising revenue. McAllister said that customers interested in taking Mochila ads have an easy option to click and receive a piece of code to paste on their Web sites, similar to the process for Google Ad Sense.

The content licensor controls the prices set, although the FAQ on Mochila indicates that the fee structure is generally “based on a price per word that is favorable compared to traditional market rates and other factors like frequency and circulation.” For all Mochila’s Web orientation, the FAQ makes it clear that licensed content will be available for print use as well as online. All content delivered does contain attribution, so sellers can expect to reach new audiences through the new outlets using their material.

The closed membership system protects licensors by ensuring that potential licensees are legitimate businesses with credit ratings, etc. As for what prices the licensees would pay, McAllister said that all those decisions are completely in the control of the content provider. However, Mochila monitors and analyzes sales patterns and customer feedback vigorously and will advise content providers willing to hear.


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Barbara Quint is senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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