The Benefits of Licensed Content for Curation

By Lyndsey • NewsCred Blog • Jun 14, 2013


By Stefan Deeran / Content Sales Director, NewsCred –

Today’s top digital marketers know that they need compelling third-party content to keep their audiences engaged on owned and operated sites and social channels. But getting the right mix can be a challenge. Content curation helps brands scale their content marketing campaigns to the pace of the web, and nothing brings balance and authenticity like content from trusted sources.

As you develop your content strategy, you’ll likely compare both unlicensed content, also known as aggregated content, and licensed content options. NewsCred began as an aggregator of unlicensed content before moving up to high-value licensed content, so we are well positioned to describe the benefits and disadvantages of either option. Let’s take a look.

The Unlicensed Content Model

In using this model, brands take headlines and excerpts from other news sites and blogs and displays snippets of third-party content on their own pages.  With aggregated content you can provide your readers with a curated ‘cheat sheet’ featuring interesting articles around a given topic.

However, unlicensed content comes with its limitations. Curators must link back to the original source, which means readers are required to leave the site in order to read the full article.  Furthermore, it’s up to content curators to figure out how much of an article they can aggregate under murky ‘fair use’ laws. Worst can scenario? Aggregators may face legal action if they chose to not comply with existing copyright laws.

The Licensed Content Model

With licensed content curation, brands have the right to publish full- text articles from premium publishers on their own sites.  This results in an ideal user experience, allowing for simple navigation and easy consumption, while making your site a dedicated destination for high-quality journalism.

The only downside of licensed content is the cost. In general, monthly fees are required in exchange for republishing rights.  But even with added licensing fees, the use of full-text content leads to greater ROI. According to a recent CopyPress report, 62% of marketers find featured articles to have the most ROI compared to other forms of content, and 65.6% consider high-profile bylines to be important to content marketing strategies.

Let’s take a look at why.

The Benefits of Licensed Content

Vast Selection

Platforms like NewsCred provide brands with high-quality content from over 2,500 global sources. This includes wire services like Reuters, Bloomberg and AP, as well as major news publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. We even offer quality magazines including The Economist and Forbes, in addition to long tail sites in every B2B and B2C niche like The Daily Muse, Fathom, MedCity News and XConomy.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Social referrals are becoming an important traffic driver, upsetting the traditional reliance on organic search. Publishers and B2B and B2C brands alike are quickly learning that social media is an effective tool when it comes to the distribution of content. According to a recent eMarketer study, 36% of B2C marketing professionals view the creation of article or blog content as an effective social media marketing tactic, making content creation the most important aspect of social media marketing overall.

With licensed content, you can share a link on your social channels and send readers back to your site, as opposed to directing a reader back to the site of the original publisher. This helps greatly in terms of traffic growth and incremental social referrals.

But SEO is still important.  When sites begin to use licensed, full-text content, they start to increase search traffic simply due to the fact they now have more pages to offer Google when indexing. Pages with full-text licensed content helps to generate incremental social shares and inbound links, thereby increasing a site’s PageRank and the likelihood they will come up on top in relevant search queries.

Pages that consist of nothing but scraped, unlicensed content offer little value to readers. In the eyes of Google, pages containing unlicensed content appear as spam, and Google’s Penguin algorithm update is specifically designed to filter out aggregator sites containing “text generated from scraping Atom/RSS feeds” or pages “stitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value.”


When using unlicensed content, brands and publishers run the risk of violating copyright laws.  A benefit of licensing content is that every article comes with a tracking pixel to verify the original publishers’ copyright compliance as well. These pixels also allow for in-depth audience analytics that can in turn inform which articles should be published next.

It’s worth noting that unlicensed content has a higher likelihood of linking to unreliable third-party sites that could be damaging to a brand’s reputation.  Using licensed content ensures that every source is reputable, and guarantees that the third-party is in compliance with relevant industry regulations.

Modification & Editorialization

Stitching together aggregated excerpts and rewriting headlines requires manpower and dedicated, internal resources.

With licensed content editorial teams don’t have to waste time with editing.  No one knows how to craft a shareable article and a snappy headline like a professional journalist!


In the absence of licensing fees, scraped content might appear to be free in all respects, but there’s a price to pay when it comes to to figuring out which articles are “safe”, or reputable. Editors need to consider whether or not their staff has the bandwidth to cut through the noise in order to find valuable, trustworthy content. Not to mention the opportunity cost if you’re not serving your audience as well as your competitors are. Your choice in scraping content might end up costing you.

So, Which Option Is Right for Your Brand?

Unlicensed content curation might make sense if a brand is new to the content marketing space and their social media managers want to experiment with aggregation.

However, once a brand realizes how vital high-quality content is for your digital channels, it’s easy to see why licensing full-text articles is the proper route to take. Given the highly competitive nature of the web today, consumers deserve to have the best user experience possible. Remember: if you don’t provide it, the competition is only a click away.


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