Mochila, a publishing technology startup launched in 2006 with the promise of creating an iTunes-like marketplace for editorial content, is shifting its business focus towards content syndication.
The company has inked a deal with International Data Group (IDG), publisher of tech-enthusiast titles PC World and GamePro, to package and distribute its content to a growing network of Web publishers, including prominent newspaper sites such as LATimes.com, ChicagoTribune.Com and DenverPost.com. According to Mochila executives, over 40 sites reaching upwards of 40 million unique users have signed on to participate in the new program, with about 125 expected to join by the end of first quarter.
The plan is for the editorial teams from both IDG and Mochila to collaborate every two weeks on a package of general consumer-friendly articles, videos and photos pulled from IDG’s magazines and sites (a recent package contained recommendations on high-definition TVs for the Super Bowl).
Then, using Mochila’s proprietary technology, the content is automatically pushed out to partner sites. IDG sells ads that accompany the syndicated content, with Mochila taking a small cut. Ultimately, Mochila’s vision is to replicate its IDG pacts with a wide variety of publishers, allowing it to distribute all sorts of content.
This new strategy is a departure from Mochila’s original end goal, which was to build an à la carte shopping engine where editors of smaller sites and blogs could cherry-pick articles as needed from publishers like the Associated Press, CNET and Hearst. Adoption of such a different publishing tactic has been slow. “That pull model wasn’t getting the kind of traction we’d hoped,” said Carolyn Bekkedahl, Mochila’s president and chief revenue officer. “That depended on a lot of people changing their behavior.”
And while that ‘pull’ business isn’t going away, Bekkedahl sees more potential for pushing content out, as most editors are comfortable with syndication, and need content in this era of staff cutbacks. “We still believe in that model,” she said. “What we’ve done here is walked up the food chain a little bit from the long tail…This is really nice solution for mid-sized sites like newspapers. These are sites that are well-lit and generate enough traffic to be interesting to advertisers.”
For IDG, the new Mochila arrangement allows the publisher to increase the number of premium impressions it can sell while eventually boosting traffic to its own sites.
“The rationale behind this is that IDG’s sites get some of the best CPMs out there,” said Mike Romoff, vp, syndication and networks at IDG. “The more you can grow those audiences through syndication, the better.”
And while IDG has struck direct syndication deals on its own with large sites like Yahoo and NYTimes.com, working with Mochila provides scale and technical efficiency. “They bring to the table technology…that is easily implemented by a lot of sites. And they also have great relationships.”