It's been three months since The Access Network Co. acquired College Media Network and it's time for a progress report. While December signifies the half-way point and a well-deserved break for college media, most businesses operate on the fiscal calendar and see December as a close of the books. With that perspective, we'd like to review what we have accomplished in just three months as the year closes and we prepare for 2011.
These rapid changes represent investment in CMN in order to transform the business into more a more stable and sustainable presence in the long run. Like most successful businesses, we have to adapt and change with the world around us. That said … harkening to our pre-Viacom days, we are back to being a lean, mean software company with our partners' priorities at the forefront.
As the year winds down, please take a look at what we have done so far and what we are planning:
In November, we introduced Sailthru as our new mail vender. Strongmail was the e-mail client CMN used under previous ownership. The system was robust, but we had little access to Strongmail to take advantage of more capabilities.
Sailthru's API allows CMN to surface analytics on the e-mail newsletters sent from CP5. We will be able to show a newspaper who receives the newsletters and how they are engaging (what stories are successful).
Currently, this information is available through private consultation, but as 2011 rolls in we lookto surface these statistics in the desktop of the CP5 admin. Contact us through support.collegepublisher.com for information on your newsletters.
The ultimate goal in this change was to reveal the value of this delivery method. E-mail newsletters provide a good way to build traffic, but we want staff members to understand the full reach of that distribution channel.
We are very excited to release AdGear as our new ad platform. Atlas has not lived up to its billing. Unfortunately, Microsoft acquired Atlas shortly after our deal was inked and that signified a slow-down on support and development of that platform.
AdGear is a software solution from Atex, the same company behind our content management platform. The two systems operate independently, but with integration across platforms. The features and functionalities are similar to Atlas, so getting to know the system should be easy. The presentation of the tools is simpler and easier for staff to engage.
New training documentation will be published here in the next couple weeks.
New Business Model
New services are available to the college market as a result of CMN's new home at The Access Network. In fact, The Access Network is restructuring our business so that membership in CMN means something much different than it used to.
Our hope in offering multiple products and services is that college newspapers will be able to thrive with more choice and flexibility. We are now to open several new distribution channels open with mobile applications on various platforms and provide city guide services.
We are also making it possible to use a variety of content management systems with our services to allow newsrooms to pick and choose which system can fit their needs (advertising modules, mobile development, etc).
Charging for Services
All of this change brings our business to the uncomfortable reality that providing these services does not come free. This has been a mounting concern for years as the costs of providing good infrastructure and secure websites have grown exponentially each year.
Many years ago, development could be underwritten with banner advertising alone. However, as our overhead has risen, our ability to offer these services for free has diminished considerably.
In order to provide consistent service to the college market, CMN must charge for services we previously provided for free. That said, if your publication meets a certain threshold of traffic each month, these fees are waived.
For a more in-depth explanation on licensing, click on this article.
We know all college newspapers are not created equal, but as a business, our decisions are guided by sustainability for the long term. We recognize the hard work that goes into each college publication and this change should be viewed not as diminishing the importance of smaller publications, but encouraging growth and reach of newspapers in smaller markets.
Starting in January 2011, our staff will be contacting each of the newspapers whose traffic does not meet the threshold in order to discuss individualized plans for sustaining operations and continuing the partnership going forward.
Development to Come
CP5 development is continuing. During the winter break, we will upgrade the CP5. This upgrade will allow CMN to surface a few new features that will make daily publishing a bit faster. Included in this code deployment is a new twist on list display, improved meta data tagging, revised mobile edition design (for increased functionality on the mobile version), and other efficiency updates to make the admin run more smoothly.
As always, please contact us with any concerns or questions.