JupiterResearch, the New York-based digital-research firm that Alan Meckler’s JupiterMedia sold last year, tries to balance the benefits of selling paid research (largely invisible but highly profitable) and publishing free content (influential and visible, but profitless). To a lesser extent, newspapers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal perpetually struggle with the same trade-off, as do Wall Street research divisions, magazines, and other content providers.
Jupiter sells its digital research services for about $8,000 a year, each. The same analysts who write the research, meanwhile, also write free blogs. The blogs allow the analysts to stay visible, with their content appearing in search engines, RSS feeds, other blogs and sites–distribution and branding they would never get through the paid research alone. The blogs also act as direct advertising for the research: If you like what the analyst has to say on his/her blog, you might (might) pony up.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to have one’s cake and eat it, too, and Jupiter’s analyst blogs are often as annoying (and brand-damaging) as they are helpful. The reader is lured to the site by a compelling headline in the RSS feed, only to find a small content nugget plus links to research that the non-subscriber is unable to see. It’s a fine line: JupiterResearch can charge whatever it wants for its research, and contrary to the whines of some in the ‘Net community, information does not have to be free. When the blog posts convert one’s RSS feed entry into a JupiterResearch advertisement, however–as this one by analyst David Card does today–they do the firm (and Card) more harm than good.