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Building content licensing-as-a-service and recipes-as-a-service

Larry Sommers Meredith ()

A first-time speaker at the FIPP World Congress, Larry Sommers’ morning presentation on 10 October focused on Meredith Corporation’s development of content licensing as a service, using Eating Well as a case study.

About Eating Well

Larry worked as the digital general manager of Eating Well before it’s acquisition by Meredith. Back then, Larry already thought of Eating Well as a “vertical within a vertical” - covering not only food, but healthy food. “We wanted to be number one,” he explained. “There was great demand for our content, and we grew and amped the revenue through non-print channels” - consumer package goods, healthcare, and expansion into international markets, to name but a few. 

In the end, 55 per cent of Eating Well’s revenue was from non-print, and they reached 4 million unique monthly views, earning $2 million in digital advertising revenue.

They did this by deploying a COPE strategy: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. “We asked ourselves, how can we fill content gaps?” Larry said. One example of this was turning expensive-to-produce content (like recipes) into other forms of content, using a “content-agnostic” approach, which means it is not platform-specific and can be adapted easily.

When he became VP of Content Licensing at Meredith, Larry used the same method. He shepherded the brand towards 80 million unique monthly visitors, exploring problems such as how to access rights-cleared content and how to work across multiple brands and multiple CMSs. “Meta tags were used across all data, making it highly searchable and usable for third parties,” he said. “We continued the focus on agnosticism of content.”

Content Licensing

The second part of Larry’s presentation addressed International Content Licensing. Larry explained two of Meredith’s ventures, which involve reimagining content from Meredith editorial brands to meet the needs of clients all over the world:

New content licensing as a service (CLaas)

  • Framework bridging content and technology to provide efficient, turnkey solution that seamlessly integrates into a client’s digital system
  • Transforms content delivery models
  • Mobile-first, responsive design
  • Can be scaled
  • Platform agnosticism

RAAS (Recipes as a service)

  • Launched in late 2016
  • Colour palettes, fonts, buttons are customised for a Pinterest-like search that integrates with the client’s needs. Works via a JAVAScript embed code
  • A recipe search service using meta tags
  • Is successful and is helping add value to the Meredith business.

“You have to identify where the best opportunity is,” Larry finished by advising. “Laser-focus and home-run on that one thing.”

A final example was Meredith’s expansion into the healthcare space. They packaged their health and wellness titles to healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to increase engagement and drive positive health and wellness behaviours - and these now make up 60% of the brand’s total revenue.

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