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Improve Your Web Site's Value Through Syndication

by Brian Schraff


Online syndication is emerging as the next-generation business architecture of the Internet. Borrowing from its predecessors in the broadcasting, cable and newspaper industries, the Web is seeing a proliferation of syndication deals.

In these syndication arrangements, entities that create content (content publishers/site producers) license their content to partner sites who integrate it with their own content and/or other syndicated content. In essence, partner sites become distributors of others' content.

Some of the hottest content trading hands in these syndication deals includes business, entertainment, health, sports and finance.

For example,, an online financial and investment news publication, and, an Internet media company, recently announced a content syndication agreement to feature selected financial markets coverage from on the News Channel.

The syndication agreement provides benefits to both parties, as evidenced by statements from executives of the two companies. " and have built a following by consistently providing trustworthy news and insightful commentary," said Kevin W. English, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of "We are thrilled to showcase's expertise in covering the financial arena to over one million readers, enabling them to stay abreast of a rapidly changing market."

From the partner site's perspective, " produces some of the most provocative and intelligent writing about Wall Street that you'll find anywhere—online or offline," said Andrew Ross, a co-founder and Vice President of Business and Strategic Development of "'s content can also help our users make key financial and investment decisions."

One content provider, Universal Press Syndicate, long known for its syndicated materials published in daily newspapers and other print media, now provides content through partner sites on the Web. Through Universal Uclick, the company syndicates its comic strips, editorial and commentary, puzzles, games, etc., to online partners.

In the entertainment arena, providers such as WWW.COM enable partner sites to provide entertainment to their visitors. In the case of WWW.COM, the entertainment is music from over 200 stations in the company's radio network. Visitors listen to music for free on a co-branded music tuner on the partner site. This benefits the partner sites because the music motivates visitors to stay on their sites for a longer period of time. It also creates an additional revenue stream for the partner sites, because they earn income each time a visitor listens to music on their sites.

Syndication deals are a popular mode of content sharing in the online healthcare industry. InteliHealth , a joint venture between Aetna U.S. Healthcare, and Johns Hopkins University and Health System, manages the InteliHealth Professional Network (IPN). IPN carries content and resources including news, journals, databases, directories, continuing education and career opportunities. Intelihealth is both a content provider and a partner site; it includes content from health content providers on its site, and provides its own content to partner sites, such as The Orange County Register . Visitors to OCR who click on the "Health & Fitness" icon get access to the newspaper site's own health content, as well as to the vast health resources provided by Intelihealth.

In the sports world, syndication is a very healthy business. One of the more popular sports content providers is CBS Sportsline. The program is designed to provide partner Web sites with the freshest sports information available online via its SportsLine SportsBrief, providing the partner sites' audiences with sports information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via a live headline feed to the partner site. All content links back to SportsLine for the full coverage of the story. Content options range from general sports news to specific sports news on topics such as baseball, football and basketball.

The syndication model applies not only to content, but also to ecommerce, as well as to dynamic applications such as search engine tools, email and calendar applications. GoTo, for example, syndicates its search engine to partner sites. GoTo provides two ways to add search to partner sites. The search-in-a-box option allows partner sites to place a search box on their home page; search results are then delivered on The integrated search option takes users to search results delivered within the partner site's branded environment.

Ecommerce syndication deals are commonplace in the online travel business. Take, for example, a travel site such as American Airlines . After logging onto the site, you can purchase your airline tickets, then book a hotel room and reserve a rental car. You execute all of these transactions without ever leaving the American Airlines site. However, all of the transactions are handled through BookSmart, which remains anonymous to the American Airlines site visitor. This syndication arrangement benefits American Airlines because BookSmart is an established, risk-minimized service that provides a revenue-sharing opportunity.

Not all syndicators remain anonymous, however. Some content providers require that the partner sites identify them as the content providers. Oftentimes, partner sites prefer to co-brand the content with the providers in order to gain credibility for their sites.

While many content providers offer direct syndication of their content inventory, there are networks that simplify the buying and selling of content. These networks, such as iSyndicate, are in the business of aggregating and distributing content on behalf of outside content providers. Content intermediaries, as they are called, provide economies of scale that simplify the process of incorporating other publishers' content into partner sites. The content intermediary may also provide the delivery, in addition to online reporting, customer service and technical support. These networks also send the content providers monthly reports listing the URLs of the customers' sites driving traffic to their content.

Partner sites typically pay an initial fee to set up the network of links that will integrate the syndicated content onto their sites and then pay ongoing content fees. Content publishers are typically paid by the content intermediary based on a negotiated share of license fees or advertising revenue generated by their content on partner sites. iSyndicate also offers an alternate payment model; the company offers free news headlines and photos to subscribers (partner sites), which drives traffic to content providers, who then pay iSyndicate on a click-through basis.

There are several factors driving the increase in online syndication. As previously illustrated, there are revenue opportunities for the content providers. For those content providers who own a vast inventory of content, it makes good business sense to utilize the new distribution channel offered by Web syndication. Web syndication generates new revenue streams by reaching new customers across a vast network of complementary sites.

Online syndication is also a smart distribution vehicle for companies that publish ongoing articles, reports or newsletters about a specific or general-interest topic.

Syndication is an also ideal way for writers, photographers, cartoonists and other creative types to get their work in front of potentially millions of visitors. Content intermediaries, including iSyndicate, offer these individuals the opportunity to syndicate content through their networks. Web syndication allows them a new method to distribute their work, while gaining exposure and revenue.

For partner sites, there are several benefits to buying syndicated content: improving site content, adding depth and breadth to a site for a low cost, increasing site stickiness (length of visitor stay on the site), driving traffic to the site, building the site's online brand and creating a sense of community.

As the Web continues to grow, the market for syndicated Web content will grow with it. It's an ideal solution for sites that want to improve visitor experience, and content providers who want to generate additional revenue.


Schraff Group is a fully integrated Internet marketing communications firm with a successful 22-year history. The firm leverages its expertise in advertising, public relations, and Internet application development and Internet business consulting to offer its clients truly integrated business and marketing support for Internet companies. Schraff Group is Orange County's leading firm for hot ramp Internet start-ups and established Internet ventures. Additional information can be accessed at or


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