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September 28, 2011
The Bloomberg Law-SCOTUSblog Connection: More Than Just an Exclusive Ad Sponsorship Deal
Bob Ambrogi reviews what by his count is the fourth major redesign of SCOTUSblog, highlighting some of its new features as well as a pulling back on some of the last redesign's features according to quoted comments by SCOTUSblog's founder and publisher Tom Goldstein:
In some respects, I decided that we needed to move backwards to move forwards. Our last platform was so unusual that I think more than half the readers didn’t really like having the two columns noting blog posts, though there are certainly loud exceptions. I think that platform educated the readers about the other features we have – like the case pages, calendar, and statistics – so those don’t have to be front and center, with everything on a single page, any longer. And the “featured content” level is a better solution to highlighting our most important posts (including because it appears on every page).
The Bloomberg Law-SCOTUSblog Connection. In a follow up post that also covers a bit more on the SCOTUSblog makeover, Ambrogi notes, as just about everyone who received the press release in their email in-box Monday, that Bloomberg Law has become the exclusive sponsor of SCOTUSblog. From the press release:
"SCOTUSblog's comprehensive and impartial examination of the Supreme Court is an important public resource and Bloomberg Law is proud to support their ability to bring this content to the public, free of charge via the Web," said Lou Andreozzi, chairman of Bloomberg Law.
“Bloomberg Law's support will allow us to reach new readers and give existing readers new features and enhanced information. Most importantly, it will allow us to expand the resources we provide like the significant upgrade of the new SCOTUSblog platform launching today, without charge and with the same independence and high ethical standards for which we are known," said Tom Goldstein, SCOTUSblog founder and publisher.
While that is pretty standard PR language, the next paragraph is the one I find most interesting:
Bloomberg Law and SCOTUSblog plan to collaborate on new features designed to help law students learn about the Supreme Court and will work together to develop symposia, webinars and other events for business and legal professionals. The content available on the SCOTUSblog website will also be made available on Bloomberg Law, and SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein will provide exclusive business analysis for Bloomberg Law.
Initially in the ad context, I though Bloomberg Law was just redirecting its ad dollars (perhaps thinking about pulling its ads from ALM websites because of the now close working relationship between ALM and Lexis) and saw an opportunity for advertising on SCOTUS. However, based on the press release, it looks like this arrangement may be something more than just an exclusive ad sponsorship deal.
Besides being the first time I've seen BLaw mention "law students," my hunch is Bloomberg Law may be planning to host video feeds to webinars via BLaw to its subscribers that are jointly produced with SCOTUSblog (CLE credits?). Perhaps even more, like Vblog-like SCOTUS news and analysis content from SCOTUSblog's pool of contributors. Score one for Bloomberg being the first very expensive online "professional services vendor" for fully integrated legal news and development (not just how-to-use) video content into its BLaw online services.
WEXIS will have to pay catch up here in what is going to be a multi-media market. The catch-up advantage goes to TR Legal because it can integrate Reuters, something most of us thought would be available at least in text versions fully integrated at the launch of WLN. Certainly Lexis can add video content, perhaps by way of placing a camera in front of ALM legal news reporters someday.
Remember when Lexis announced it acquired exclusive licensing of ALM products and also announced that Lexis and ALM would be working together to produce new titles under the ALM brand? That led to speculation about how long would it be before Lexis bought ALM. If the Bloomberg Law-SCOTUSblog content co-creation announcement give one an oh-no feeling, I personally doubt BLaw has plans right now to acquire SCOTUSblog. BLaw will own US Law Week if/when the acquisition of BNA is concluded. I think the independence of SCOTUSblog is key here at least for now and the possiblity of co-generation of content in joint venture-like fashion is a "win-win" for both.
In And Now for the Rest of the SCOTUSblog Story, Bob Ambrogi wrote:
Of course, this is a smart move for Bloomberg Law... .Not only will it enhance Bloomberg Law’s visibility and authenticity as a legal research provider, but it could also help it gain access to authors and content it needs to help fill out its libraries of secondary materials. Those secondary libraries — treatises, practice guides, articles — are where Bloomberg still falls short of West and Lexis. It has been working furiously to remedy that, hiring armies of lawyers and creating original content.
Well, BLaw is in the process of acquiring BNA and that is a better remedy than trying to create new secondary content from scratch. Who knows, some SCOTUSblog contributors may end up with BNA contracts. A Federal Practice portfolio series someday? From this perspective, content co-generation plans announced in the press release clearly indicates that BLaw is branching out to create synergies with established high quality publishers. Should be interesting to watch. [JH]