Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts
July 11th, 2012

Syndication: beyond RSS, exchange leads to profit

Syndication: beyond RSS, exchange leads to profit


Syndication is often understood in the world of the Internet as a simple exchange of RSS, allowing one to publish the “headlines” of the other by sending the user back to its site. A more extended understanding of syndication could actually solve a large part of the problems of written press.


In the USA, syndication has been existing since a long time in the field of the television, and is understood as the real exchange of complete content. In term of business models, those local channels are actually basing on exchange (minutes against minutes), on “shared” buying (each ones of them pays a small part of the full total) and of promotional or sponsored barter (the broadcasting of the program actually creates notoriety for the producer and\or the sponsor).


The written press, and in their various web and online version, could actually adopt the same method, in order to enrich their content proposition at low cost while concentrating their resources on the production of the subjects with high added value which make this media unique. The setting-up of this exchange is not so easy and induce risks, post perceived and real ones, which must be covered to enable the lift-off of this strategy.


First of all, parties must consider each other as valid partners, credible partners, with a level of quality and credibility, which is equivalent or similar to both parties.


Secondly, the two actors of the exchange must not be in competition for the same audience, first in terms of strategic territory of the media, secondly and in lesser manner in terms of target groups.


Thirdly, syndication must be fair to be sustainable, and none of the parties must have the impression then the other shave more benefits in the situation. In that logic, the setting of the objective value of a content must be based on the right mix of qualitative criteria (ex: scoop) and quantitative criteria (ex: size).


The shared trust and the setting-up of common values are requesting a lot of efforts within the written press, a complex industry and often a bit conservative. Logical and efficient, syndication is the rational solution and an excellent means to be able to publish massive quantity of high quality content without having to bear all the costs of it.


To enable the raise of syndication, intermediary actors are now appearing and positioning themselves as ” third party guarantee”, as an escrow in a financial transaction, proposing a series of tools that allows to organize as well as to structure a marketplace of publishing rights, a marketplace to acquire rights of original and adapted content.

June 11th, 2012

Media and newspaper can get out of the crisis. If they want to.

Newspapers and media are in crisis since a few years facing the challenges of the change. Despite that, consensus remains strong on the absolute necessity to have quality and relevant media for a healthy democratic society.


The first problem is the external pressure on revenue. This pressure comes as much from the change of technological context or from the always more intense competition between various outlets than from the increase of production costs (price of paper, logistics) or of the lower advertising revenue.


More discreet and subtle, but also more profound and problematic, the second issue is the production logic, within newsrooms which are demotivated and full of questions around their role in society. Historically valorized for the production of original and unique content, journalists reach the limits of their capacity to deliver added value in specialized subjects outside their field of expertise or in generalist top stories content, telling again and again what everybody knows already.


Medias already have the solution to their revenue problems: resale their unique content, after publication, to other medias and other platforms, in original and/or translated versions.


The second step is the true setting-up of outsourcing acquisition policy to acquire important contents that are outside the natural field added value of the media.


International analysis, reports from conflict zones or very narrow vertical topics, these contents already exist, in excellent quality, at competitive prices, not yet made available in the region of the buyer. An article about the war in Syria or on the US election, as well as a page on natural health tips or video games reviews, are excellent examples of articles which should be produced uniquely by newsrooms that can deliver an expertise and an exclusive added value to the content, and then should be resold to the other media that want to cover the same subject but without having the same resources internally. Taking a day of work to compile little stories from agencies about conflicts in the Middle East does not create any added value and kills the moral as much as the journalist to his reader, when at the opposite, talents in the newsroom have an unique skill and exclusive competence of creating unique content expected by his target audience.


Combined, these two methods can increase revenues while releasing a large part of the existing resources of the newsroom to allocate them on projects that create an unique set of value, the only one that can strengthen the link between the media brand and its final clients. While increasing its audience and by diversifying its revenue, the media re-motivates its troops and show them that their investment, their views and their curiosity are the key elements of the value creation.


Personally, I am 100% convinced that those methods allow media to come out of the vicious circle that they have been living in for the past ten years, and such, to engage the virtuous circle, the only one that allows to get out of the crisis. I want to share it that my peers.



Clément Charles |


April 11th, 2012

Resell content… To produce more content

In this time of economic and industrial pressure on newspapers and magazines, the search for a financial and sustainable equilibrium in the digital landscape is a necessary imperative for all. In that logic, resell a part of intellectual propriety right after publication can be a very interesting low risk path.

It is not complicated to observe that most of the printed titles have a unilateral production process, which goes only one way, from production to broadcasting the content on various platforms to end as an archive, which is generally unused. Doing so, publishers are losing complementary income which could be generated by the reselling of those rights to other media.

To engage this type of process, the first thing to do is to have the adequate contracts with the journalists and the others creative within the production chain, that allow an integral session of the rights of the produced work, in addition to the usage in the salary given to the media, the rights to resell, to adapt and to translate the content. Of course, the content of agencies cannot be included in this lot and articles which are just adding a few words to star provided by news agency could not be redistributed.

On the basis of a solid and extensive property of the rights, the corporation then has to define its strategy of distribution by finding the right equilibrium between the generating new opportunities and the risk of cannibalization of its historical footprint. This last one can be considered as the combination of the physical zone of broadcasting of the media, of the language of the contents and of the topics which are treated by the publication.

The content in a language coming from a publisher limited to a single territory can be monetized in many other languages or in many other not competing territories, in many other types of media platforms, while limiting at the same time at the maximum risks of impacting the revenue related to the circulation of the original publication.

This strategy can definitely contribute to solve the vicious circle from which the Swiss and European press for more than a decade suffers. Indeed, media have, at the same time, less resource to pay their staffs while having lot more broadcasting outlets to fill up in a world with an increasing complexity. This naturally leads to lower quality services, thus less success, thus less revenue, thus less resource.

Generated new revenue without increasing the existing costs allows to find positive solutions to this paradox. Royalties generated by the sales of the contents allow to increase the quantity and\or the quality of the production resources, which engage and increase the relevance of the produced contents, thus of the audience and finally of the revenue. In that case, the virtuous circle is engaged. Those resources are enabling the creation of more original contents, truly in line with the identity of the media, and thus, with the value expectations of his historical target group.

Potential clients are not only media companies. In addition to be able to be provided all kind of current digital platforms (mobile, Web, DOOH) or coming platforms (interactive kiosks, games consoles, in – flight / in car entertainment), rights “distributed” could also be acquire by companies and institutions, which are always using more content to create added value for their clients, in their internal magazines, their newsletters or their corporate communications.

In bonus, with this distribution process, the media gives to its brand and its journalists, new opportunities of international visibility and in various kind of supports. Beyond revenues, a bit more fame is always a good thing. If we accept the idea that the Swiss press will not be saved by the government, by the corporation or by the iPad, the press will need to save itself, which is, at the same time, more exciting, more honorable and more poetic. In this logic, the redistribution of content will surly be one of the methods to get there.

 Clement Charles