Wednesday, 22nd December 2010
Tim Buckley Owen
Even though purse strings are still tightly drawn, and information managers face tough decisions about what content is no longer worth the investment, new figures from Outsell show that information prices are on the up again. But the results of FreePint surveys throughout 2010 suggest that publishers may find this an increasingly risky strategy.
Just over half the information managers who responded to Outsell’s 2011 Information Pricing Survey indicated price increases, compared with only a third a year ago. And Outsell’s analysis of net pricing change across the vendors it surveyed indicated a 3.5% increase – half a percentage point higher than a year ago.
Nevertheless, content budgets are still not keeping pace with the rise in prices. Respondents predict a 6.2% aggregate increase in the cost of their vendor portfolios, but expect their content budgets to be stagnant and flat.
In two largely overlapping reports (purchase details at http://digbig.com/5bdcyk and http://digbig.com/5bdcym), Outsell addresses information managers and vendors respectively. In complementary advice to each, it urges more meaningful partnerships, effective usage analytics and commitment to a holistic portfolio management process.
But for vendors it also has a special warning. In markets that are consolidating, with dominance by the top two or three companies in each segment, great customer service becomes a long-term differentiator – and in this respect, Outsell believes that the industry is ‘asleep at the switch’.
FreePint’s own survey findings throughout the year indicate that there’s a further wake-up call vendors ought to be heeding as well: the rise and rise of free information. FreePint’s Economic Impact Survey of last September (purchase at http://web.freepint.com/go/shop/report/1709) concluded that making do with free resources was now ‘by far the most important strategy for coping with reduced content budgets’.
Not surprisingly this strategy applies particularly to that ubiquitous commodity, news – but here respondents last November to FreePint’s News Needs & Preferences Survey went even further. They actually suggested that vendors should bring their costs down by not investing in advanced features, even though they acknowledged that those features were what separated fee from free in terms of value (purchase at http://web.freepint.com/go/shop/report/1737).
If it can’t be free, then it should certainly be unique, said respondents to FreePint’s Buying Patterns Research report in June. But interestingly, that applied to the free stuff as well; the criteria they looked for in free information may have been slightly different, but unique content still came out top (free at http://web.freepint.com/go/how/buying – registration required).
Free doesn’t necessarily mean second rate; governments are increasingly putting out quality data originally gathered at taxpayers’ expense for free (see for example http://www.vivavip.com/go/e31069). Vendors may hitherto have regarded themselves as the sole filter of this cornucopia of intelligence – statistical, legal, regulatory, corporate, geodemographic. Not any more.
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