Wednesday, August 12, 2009

AP to withhold some content from member sites?

The Nieman Lab, citing a confidential AP document, says the wire service is considering plans to hold back some content from member Web sites, instead directing users back to the AP's own site.

That would be an interesting turn of events and finally give flesh to the oft-voiced complaint from members these days that AP has become a competitor as well as a supplier. It would also mark a transition from wire service toward syndicate.

Having said that, I think there's a lot for publishers to think about in the AP's plan - namely that the wire service is struggling toward a definition of what truly is premium content. Too many publishers still think that just because it's "local" that it's worth lots of money.

I detect in the document, however, more of an orientation still toward WWMT (what would members think) about such content, not necessarily what would readers/users think. I'm not totally sold that an infographic is going to be seen by most people as primo content. (And, it should be noted, the document as revealed by Nieman so far does not say AP would put that behind a pay wall.) But then again, on the Web, it doesn't take many, and as I've said before, this is about aggregating rivulets, not necessarily even streams anymore, of revenue.

One of those commenting on the Nieman site brings up a good point -- if AP has links in its stories that link back to that "unique" content on its Web site, and if clicks flow to the AP that way, and if AP then sells ads against that, will it split the revenue with the referring sites?

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At 8/12/09, 3:47 PM, Blogger Zach said...

Thanks for writing about this, Doug. The two points you make in your second graf are smart ways of framing the issue. I imagine this and other changes will prompt members to look again at the value proposition of their relationship with AP — though I don't know what conclusions they should draw. —Zach Seward


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