Co-Branding – Dealing With Content Creation

Forming an alliance with another party on the web in an effort to make more money for both of you is very common on the web and usually a smart move. The actual relationship can be a bit tricky and absolutely must be put in writing. Why? Well, let’s take a look at the content creation issue.

What is an online alliance? Well, it usually is a business project between two parties that don’t really compete with each other, but have to assets that could produce revenues when combined. Let’s look at a rather obvious example.

Fox News has a website. Fox is a well known for having a conservative leaning when it comes to political views. Now imagine a book publisher that offers up titles from leading conservative politicians and commentators. The Fox site has lots of traffic, but Fox doesn’t publish books. The publisher has books that would probably be a big hit with Fox visitors, but the publisher doesn’t have much traffic coming to its site. Teaming up would seem to be a win-win. The same would be true for msnbc.com and a publisher offering books from leading liberal authors. The politics isn’t the issue. The relationship is.

While this seems like a win-win, what about content creation? There are a number of issues. Who is going to write the sales copy? Will the other party have the right to refuse it or edit it? What about excerpts from the books? Will Fox be allowed to publish them on its site? If so, who chooses the text to be shown? What if the deal doesn’t work out? How long does Fox have to take it down? Will Fox be allowed to use the trademarks of the publisher and, if so, to what extent and on what media? Conversely, can the publisher do marketing claiming the books are “endorsed by Fox News”?

As you can see, the simple win-win situation doesn’t look so simple anymore. It is still a clear win-win relationship, but the devil is in the details as the old cliché goes. The key is to deal with these issues up front to prevent them from becoming a major issue down the line. This is true whether the parties are big corporate entities or small mom and pop internet businesses.

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