We are a lot smaller. We cannot post an article on every cartoon character, celebrity, or sports figure. We can only allocate resources for certain subjects. People say Wikipedia has so many page views and they have 3 million articles in the English language. The equivalent, given the size of our database, would be million. People go to it directly. From that we estimated the total number of times queries for which we have content get asked on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
There are between 1. But Britannica is on page 2, 3, or 4 of a Google search and very few people venture to the second page, so therefore we get extremely low traffic—0. The analysis showed that Britannica still makes money despite little search engine referral traffic, which is great. So we make money and are significantly profitable and growing without participating in that platform.
It was difficult to pinpoint. Why would they pay for this biography and not another? Perhaps people are not willing to pay for Abraham Lincoln. So then does it make sense for us to have Lincoln behind our pay wall? Humanities and science draw a lot of subscriptions. Articles that have to do with places and events, as opposed to biographies of well-known individuals. But you asked about Wikipedia. What bothers me is that a process that involves the experts, that is rigorous, a process that ensures that what you read is well-written and factually correct is not as popular.
That really is not good, not just for Britannica, but for society. This is a year-old turnaround——a company that has made it to a new business model. Our model worked before newspapers. Britannica was the canary in the coal mine. We were the first to feel the impact of technology—CD-ROMS, the fact that print was so costly, needing sales people, the editorial investment.
We have been struggling and working with that impact in a precipitous way.
The lessons have been going on for 15 years. Today is a wonderful graduation day for us. We have replaced print dollars with digital pennies. But at the same time, we have maintained the revenue for the company and increased the profitability. Our top line has remained the same for eight years. We lost lots of money in the s and started making money in Access to the Internet and broadband started to happen. And schools got wired. So we created a new set of products that had nothing to do with the editorial process but with curriculum specialists and instructional designers and listening to teachers.
And that has made us a very different company. By Karen A. Frenkel 6 minute Read. Paris: Odile Jacob. Berghaus, B.
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