The 2014 Specialized Information Publishers Association (SIPA) Annual Conference took place last week in Washington, DC. Once again, it highlighted formidable innovation in this vibrant part of the publishing industry.
Among the many things that impressed me this year were:
- A beautifully realized new information service based on public mortgage finance data, built on the Tableau platform.
- A publisher helping an advertiser profile a massive hidden customer segment. They then “connected the dots” to upsell to that market to the tune of tens of millions of dollars per year via an intermediary partner.
- A print publisher transforming its operations by hiring a fleet of developers to build digital market intelligence services that rival Bloomberg.
- Innovative marketing strategies, including:
- Convincing buyers to dump competitive products in exchange for a sweetheart deal on services.
- Getting customers to share internal market data in exchange for aggregate data.
- Persuading clients to spend on products with demonstrable returns on investment.
Most SIPA members produce subscription-based information services in niche markets, but product offerings also include more and more database information services, seminars, training, and mobile current awareness services. Entrepreneurs founded or run many of these, making them a sort of “skunk works” for the publishing industry as a whole.
Much of their success is due to the true “community” that SIPA’s members have built to identify and cultivate talent among their ranks. As a fledgling editor, I myself participated in the Newsletter Association, a precursor to SIPA. I’m proud to say that this helped me to truly understand the mechanics of the industry. Without the guidance of industry leaders who freely shared their insight and connections, I doubt that half of my new product successes ever would have seen the light of day!