With an acquisition and new hires, ALM sets its sights on subscriptions and mobile
Sept. 19, 2012 – Bill Carter, the new president and CEO of ALM, speaks about b-to-b media industry with great fervor. Carter, who previously held executive roles at Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis, describes b-to-b as “dynamic” and “a changing industry." And although he’s only been in charge for a few months, he has already made a few dynamic changes within ALM. In May, Carter brought on former colleague Lenny Izzo to serve as senior vp of marketing. Earlier this summer, Carter announced that Kevin Michielsen, who also boasts a legal information service background, would take on the role of chief operating officer. ALM also announced the company would undergo a variety of organizational changes impacting several of its teams, including yesterday’s appointment of Jeffrey Litvack as senior vp of digital media.
With new key executives now in place, many with backgrounds in digital and business information, Carter says he’s focusing on boosting the company’s online services. “Online and mobile is definitely the wave of the future,” says Carter, “but there's still a lot of experimentation to be done on the proper ways to monetize it. I'm a big believer, especially for a vertical business like ALM who's targeting specific groups of legal professionals, that opportunities do exist in subscriptions for content. Coming from that information background, one of the things that we are thinking about a lot here is 'How do we take what we do on our daily basis, this news -- this real-time information coming in -- how can you aggregate that information, analyze it and produce insights and results for our targeted professionals?’ If you do that it allows you to expand into new products and offerings, and those can give you opportunities for subscription products.”
Subscriptions are a big part of Carter’s vision for ALM in efforts to diversify its revenue stream (in October, Carter, along with Kevin Worth, president and CEO of The Deal, will share insights at ABM Executive Forum on a session called “Corporate Licensing and Subscriptions: The REAL Paid Content Opportunity”). Last week, ALM announced that it had acquired RivalEdge, a data platform that monitors and filters legal news for attorneys. RivalEdge’s portfolio -- including FirmWatch, which tracks law firm news, and LateralWatch, which monitors attorney hires and moves -- will be folded into ALM’s Legal Intelligence division.
“The big piece is it's a listening platform that can monitor not only ALM content but news that is being produced by individuals, news organizations and law firms themselves,” says Carter. “We can take all that information that is out on the Internet, find it, parse it, aggregate it and personalize it for the legal professional. RivalEdge helps us better find out what's happening and deliver that information to attorneys and legal professionals in ways that they want to see it, use it.”
Using sophisticated algorithms, RivalEdge allows legal professionals to search by concept not just keywords, differing from many RSS feeds and services, such as Google Alerts, which only pick up news that include precise terms. After subscribing, legal professionals can receive e-mail alerts or check the website for news over the last 30 days. ALM attends to take the service a step further by enhancing its analytical capabilities. If a certain concept sees a spike in news coverage, ALM wants to have the capability to spot the trend and immediately alert subscribers who are monitoring the concept.
Mobile on the rise
Mobile is another promising area for ALM, says Carter. “Every month we see the increase in mobile users. People are getting alerts and are starting to read much more of the full magazines on there. [We’re] trying to figure out how we stay there with our customers, how do we keep moving in that direction, what additional value can we bring to it.” Taking ownership of this area is newly appointed Litvack, the former chief operating officer and general manager of iCircular at the Associated Press, a mobile advertising advertising platform for preprints. In addition to directing ALM’s mobile efforts, Litvack will oversee Law.com and the corporate strategy for its digital products.
Carter hints that there might be more news announced in the future as he aims to expand his subscription-based products. The key, he says, is being the expert in your niche. “We are very focused on a couple of verticals, and we understand these verticals very well,” he says. “As others look at paid content, they really have got to understand the customer. Once you understand the customer, you put a product out there and watch it. Overall it's being very well-connected with the customer and understanding the customer and what their needs are.”
-Elizabeth A. Reid