Unique Value and Business Fundamentals: How Euromoney’s Getting It Right and Most Others Won’t

11 11 2010

Rory Brown (@rorybrown) had an excellent post this morning on today’s very positive earnings news from Euromoney and what that signifies as a media company struggling with all the same forces as everyone else in the digital news business. How is Euromoney able to turn record profits while rapidly transitioning their readership to online? By focusing on fundamentals: strategy, implementation and driving profits.

You can read Rory’s post for additional insight, but I did want to add one additional point. I also think it’s critical that Euromoney is a media company providing content of very high value to their consumers. They put out quality content around a focused area of expertise and specialized reporting. This, then, becomes the kind of high-value content their readers find is worth paying for.

One News Corp property, WSJ, has been quite successful as a paid content venture because it too provides content its readers believe they can’t get anywhere else. Another, the Times, is a general news publication, and so their unique value proposition is much less clear to potential buyers.

Clay Shirky was a bit dismissive of the ‘digital media needs to add real value to support paywalls‘ argument in his otherwise great post on the Times and the economics of news paywalls. I get his point, saying that print publishers simply need to provide value in their digital editions and then customers will pay does, as Shirky observes, merely push the problem down the road. I think the point, however, is that media organizations who want to charge for digital content need to provide UNIQUE value. Something they can’t get everywhere else for free or at very low cost. That could be specialized reporting, content useful to a specific job or user workflow, unique functional capabilities with value to the user (like an iPad app), ancillary services, or a brand that’s so compelling users are drawn to be a part of it.

To be clear: I think this means most providers of general news from the pre-digital world will not survive in anything like their original form. Most will probably either fold outright after a long losing battle, merge with one of the emerging hyper-local networks developing around the country, or become a much, much slimmer online only and purely ad-supported production, and one that probably outsources the creation of their news from a small handful of surviving national or global players.

This probably means, then, that a time will come when the few remaining providers of general news will be able to command a premium for their content, but by that time, the landscape will look entirely different, and they’ll probably make a lion’s share of their revenues through syndication to local networks.

Focusing on both their unique value and business fundamentals is what Euromoney seems to be doing right. How many more will be able to successfully follow them?