Monday, January 18, 2010

DeepDyve Content Rental Points the Way to Broader and More Flexible Scholarly Revenue Models

With more publishers of scholarly and learned professional journal articles trying to build revenues through improved marketing, the search, display and sales tools being developed by DeepDyve are finding stronger interest than ever 2010 among publishers. DeepDyve exposes free and premium scholarly content through its own search engine and through the search tools of partners and makes it available through its read-only viewing tool embedded in Web pages. This allows people finding articles to "rent" them on a once-off basis in read-only mode for as little as 99 cents. This can be particularly handy for people who would otherwise have little occasion to purchase a full subscription to a premium scholarly journal, thus opening up this premium content to markets that would otherwise not provide opportunities for new publishing revenues.

How much more revenue? In a recent discussion with DeepDyve CEO Bill Park, he indicated an estimate in the low billions USD for the total market available for "rental" pay-per-view style access to scholarly content. While this is certainly not enough to float the boats of scholarly publishers in general, it's largely found money that will increase their total revenues at a time when revenue growth is a challenge. That's a concept that attracts partners large, small old and new to DeepDyve's services, including newly announced alliances with De Gruyter, one of the oldest and most respected scholarly publishers, and CiteULike, a Springer-sponsored social boomarking service for scientific researchers.

For De Gruyter, an established brand still requires new marketing techniques to reach researchers who do not have access to paid collections in institutional libraries, while CiteULike, a venue that attracts researchers both in institutional and independent settings, provides a way for people in cross-disciplinary research to sample collections that may eventually be a part of their more permanent interests. In both instances the services of DeepDyve are well aligned with the needs of people involved in innovation management as they probe their own adjacent markets and test out new ideas that may be worth research and product investments.

Scholarly publishers are having to adapt to research markets that are increasingly moving beyond traditional academic boundaries, prompting both alliances with organizations such as DeepDyve and their own repackaging efforts to make topic-based slices of content available from a broad selection of their journals. While the topic-based repackaging has its merits, the DeepDyve approach to ad-hoc access on a read-only basis is an essential component of this repositioning of premium scholarly content, allowing publishers to test out what kinds of content are attracting premium access far more quickly than traditional marketing cycles are likely to capture.

So not only is "rental" content valuable in terms of its direct and ad-supported revenues, but also valuable because it is, in effect, "live" market research into "willingness to pay" habits in specific market sectors. It is then up to publishers, of course, to respond to the insight that they can gain from this sales data to consider new slices and titles that can respond to premium opportunities more rapidly. The more partners that a company such as DeepDyve gets, the more insight they are likely to have available to their partners via use and sales metadata to determine such trends. Should Google Scholar join the many established publishers already using DeepDyve, their metadata on content usage could become more interesting yet.

To some degree these concepts are "Publishing 101" ideas, but the speed with which research markets are shifting are changing the ways in which they need to be applied. With permanent collections of well-established journals constantly under the pressure of institutional budget cuts, the pressure is on scholarly publishers to define "must-have" collections that are really responsive to the needs of their customers. DeepDyve's content discovery and "rental" tools can help publishers to respond to both opportunities and threats to premium revenues more rapidly, even as they build premium revenues on an on-demand basis. Yes, this may seem like ancillary revenues to some publishers, but it is revenue that is both sorely needed and which can be a guide to where best to grow broader revenues that are more easily defended in challenging times.
Post a Comment