Enhancing FIND's Revenues
FIND (Federal Information & News Dispatch), a small electronic publisher that provides government and business information through third-party distributors, such as Factiva and LexisNexis, believes that its precise coding of documents has significantly increased its revenue. Take Commerce Business Daily, which was provided directly to Factiva with no value-added. According to FIND's director of marketing, Del Voss, the company has seen a five-fold increase in revenues now that it adds specialized coding to the raw data. "Our coding is primarily an automated process, using software we developed years ago. If the Food and Drug Administration is mentioned in an article or document, the code for FDA is automatically applied. The same thing happens for Public Laws. Many of the government information we process, such as Federal Register, are important legal documents. It's important that we code it accurately."
Voss points to FIND's value-added coding as a differentiator when searching massive amounts of information. Acknowledging that FIND may not be a household name as an information producer and that people may not even know that the data they want is supplied by FIND, Voss notes that the coding will pull FIND's information out of a mass of other suppliers' data. Not having to choose FIND as a source gives this relatively anonymous publisher parity with more well-known companies. "Government information is generic," comments Voss. "Revenue varies depending upon how it is presented and how it is indexed."
Another FIND value-add is the ability to correct data. Washington Daybook is a daily listing of policy and media events in Washington, DC. FIND applies some 100 subject terms to the Daybook and sends it electronically to LexisNexis for distribution. Inevitably, some of these events are cancelled or date and time changed. To alleviate problems caused by these changes, FIND developed a "kill file" that replaces old records with updated, correct ones. "That makes the information more reliable," says Voss. "Does it enhance our revenues? Possibly not, but it does pay off in solid relationships with our distributor. Our reputation for responsibility is important to us and it brings us referral business from our strategic partners." Some distributors, in fact, insist that journal and newsletter publishers who want to put their data directly onto their systems go through FIND instead. Not only does FIND textualize electronic data, it adds that all-important coding data.
Justifying Adding Value
Standing out from the crowd is a prime attribute for Web site creators. At a recent Search Engine Strategies meeting (www.searchenginewatch.com), it was apparent that the Webmasters, content creators, and ecommerce companies in attendance were much more interested in learning how to force Web search engines to list their sites than they were in how to search the Web using the search engines. The techniques explained, including metatagging (which is declining in its ability to attract the attention of search engines), title writing, search terms, submission strategies, and page optimization, are all forms of value-add.
Whether you're trying to entice people to your Web site to buy your products and services, to encourage people to subscribe to your highly valuable econtent, or to successfully navigate econtent sites to retrieve relevant information, the concept of additional value, whether that value has been added by machines or humans, is important to success. From the information professionals' perspective, monetizing value-add is based on actual out of pocket costs, time saved, and relevancy of information received. From the content creators' perspective, monetizing value-add can be either actual additional revenue that can be chalked up to the value-added features or increased market share. Creative use of value-add and effective marketing of why the value-add is important can actually create new markets. To simply throw the raw material of econtent onto a Web site is no longer sufficient. It's the enhancements to that raw material that create profits.