First of all, a giant disclosure. I’ve had a large amount of involvement with Econsultancy over the last few years. Econsultancy is a client, I’m one of its guest bloggers, I’ve been to Econsultancy events, parties, training sessions and have worked with them in partnership with several of my former and current clients. I know a number of the guys that work there very well.
With that out of the way, I can say – with a clear conscience – that I was absolutely delighted to learn yesterday that the company has been purchased by Centaur for £50m.
I’ve argued for years that anyone wanting to see whether publishers could make any money out of the web (especially when it came to trade titles) should look no further than Econsultancy for a shining example. I’ve also argued that, in the digital marketing space, Econsultancy is exactly what NMA should have become years ago (Econsultancy was founded in 1999).
The model is fantastically simple. First of all, create great, free content. Don’t regurgitate news that you can get elsewhere, but provide value-add analysis and editorial that meets the needs of the target audience. The Econsultancy blog has become one of the most powerful mouthpieces in the digital industry (and I have the stats to back up that claim) and drives significant, relevant traffic. It also works very well for organic search and helps build a community (the Econsultancy Twitter account hit 100,000 followers this week (NMA has 37,000).
Secondly, create awesome research, training and events that, because it is awesome and proven, companies will be more than happy to pay for.
And there’s your business model.
I’m fascinated by this deal. Fascinated to see if Centaur can leave Econsultancy alone and allow it to do what it does best. Fascinated to see what will become of NMA. Fascinated to see whether the Econsultancy model will be adopted (successfully) by other titles in the Centaur stable.
It’s a big gamble. It’s a lot of money and Centaur have been forced to take out a sizeable loan to see it through.
But if Centaur can retain everything that is great about Econsultancy, enhance it and learn from it then £50m could look like a snip.