“It’s an environment where you are really hearing about global trends in niche publishing”– Ein Hintergrund-Artikel zur internationalen Fachverlagskonferenz SIPA Munich 2012 vom 28.-30.03.2012

Andy McLaughlin

Paywalls have become a huge issue for specialized information companies – for all media companies, really. At SIPA Munich on March 29, Joris van Lierop of the leading Dutch financial newspaper, FD Mediagroep, will tell how they successfully introduced a paywall model in June and show data from the launch.

In addition, van Lierop, who also spent seven years with Wolters Kluwer, will speak about the development of sustainable business models for high quality content. Will people pay for news? In this case, yes they will.

At last summer’s SIPA UK Conference, Ken Cooke said that the first question to look at when it comes to paywalls is your online content. “Just because it’s monetisable in print doesn’t mean it works online,” he said. “As an example we have a publication that provides real in-depth analysis into dense topics, great looking on the page, unfortunately a 5,000-word dissertation doesn’t exactly scan well online! Beyond that, do you know what your customers really want to pay for online…and not just what they read?”

Stephen Roberts of the Guardian Business & Professional added to the subject. “The need for blended paywall strategies is strongest when open content is needed for marketing, for brand building and to maintain one’s share of the conversation in niche professional contexts. A robust account management and business development function eliminates some of the need for open content to drive transactional sales and new business, and means that the paywall can be closed further.”

The paywall model of the Dutch financial newspaper is just one example of prime industry issues that will be presented by a worldly group of speakers on March 28-30. SIPA Munich, now in its fourth year, is the most international of SIPA’s four major annual conferences. Last year saw attendees from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, North America and, of course, Europe. And that makes for an exciting business environment. “It’s an environment where you are really hearing about global trends in niche publishing,” said Andy McLaughlin, SIPA president. “You can’t help but get new business ideas when you are dealing with that much cultural and business innovation.”

Sometimes, a great notion can come from the furthest outposts. Ingo Claus, a freelance consultant in Germany, will deliver a session on specialized information publishing in Russia. Is Russia really the big black box in the East? Does the country offer more chances and opportunities than challenges for special information publishers?

Craig Rodney, managing director for Cerebra Communications in South Africa, will present, New Opportunities – Mobile and Social Publishing in Africa.   Publishing in Africa isn’t easy but as the lights begin to come on, the opportunities are showing themselves.

Florin Campeanu, general manager of Rentrop & Straton in Romania, will deliver a session titled, Printed Content Is Dead. Long Live Digital Content! Why the Tablet PC Is the New Rising Star of the Gutenberg Galaxy? Learn how to package your content digitally, with maximum profits and minimum costs.“

The most important thing of being a SIPA member is the power I feel to be a part of a big and important world  organization,” said Campeanu. “Networking at SIPA events is great. I met nice people in Washington, Miami, Munich and London, and I exchanged a lot of useful information which helped me in my business. At the same time, our managers and product-management staff also take the opportunity to attend SIPA conferences. They always come back to Romania with new editorial and marketing ideas.”

Jeska Harrington Gould, managing director from Research, Ltd., will present a case study of Research Ltd.’s transition from online content provision to adding workflow tools. The transition allowed them to significantly boost revenue from the existing customer base and become more embedded in their work processes. “I don’t think it’s necessarily ground breaking,” she said, “but it’s the next step on from just cashing in individual subs to a site license for content. It also has the advantage of having measurable revenue results because we did it three years ago so we have a track record.”

In addition, Grzegorz Giza, CEO of Wydawnictwo Wiedza in Praktyka, Poland, will deliver Working in the Cloud, SaaS for Lawyers. Helmut Graf, CEO of VNR Verlag für Die Deutsche Wirtschaft in Bonn, Germany, Robert Brady, president of Fortis, and Gould will take part in a panel titled, Squeezing More Juice From the Lemon. And Meg Hargreaves, SVP & publisher, federal legislative services, CQ Roll Call, will present a Product Development Case Study from their new Executive Briefings.

“I am proud of its tremendous international appeal,” McLaughlin said. “However, what makes me most proud is that as an organization we can point to this as growth in a time when other associations were shrinking and not taking new risks. The SIPA brand is strong. Our content and value is strong, and SIPA Munich is proof of that.”


Andy McLaughlin, PaperClip Communications, Moderator der SIPA Munich 2012

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