What investors need to know about research content subscriptions

Investors across asset classes and regions are increasingly using primary research content, such as transcripts of interviews with industry specialists, as a core part of their due diligence and monitoring. This is often in addition to an expert network.

By Joshua Maxey, Co-Founder, Third Bridge

Transcripts are the bedrock of the research content category, which has been growing rapidly and now includes earnings calls, investor-led interviews, moderator-led interviews, and proprietary transcripts of private consultations (click here for more information about transcript models). With more primary research providers entering the content space, investors have several options when it comes to access and payment models.

With a traditional subscription, the investor pays a fixed price for unlimited access to research content until the renewal date – much like a newspaper subscription – and with the option of paying monthly or annually. Contracts may also span multiple years, with the renewal price fixed in exchange for the long-term commitment. 

However, there are several considerations with subscription models. Firstly, the provider may demand a higher fee at renewal if the investor adds additional users to their licence that was priced for a smaller number of users. Alternatively, the investor might be forced to upgrade if the provider feels they have exceeded a reasonable download volume. As such, investors should familiarise themselves with the types of levers that could be applied for upgrades or price increases.

Content segmentation

Importantly, subscriptions can also be tailored to parameters agreed on by the investor and provider. The content the investor is granted access to can be segmented based on:

  • Region or country
  • Sector or sub-sector
  • Asset class
  • Delayed content (which has been available to other investors already for a certain period of time)
  • Premium content  

Here, too, there are important factors to note. Segmentation based on country/region, sector/sub-sector and/or asset class can create challenges because the lines of delineation are not always clear. Ensuring the provider has a robust search and tagging engine is therefore one way of ensuring that the right content can be found. Additionally, with delayed content, investors should consider the impact of an embargo period (which could be two weeks or even one month) on their ability to access timely information and insights.

Subscription models: who has access? 

Then of course, there is the question of who has access to the content. Several options are available, including:

  • Seat-based (individual)
  • Team-based
  • Enterprise (with the subscription premium determined by size of firm)
  • Fund or strategy

One of the most important considerations here are the ramifications of password sharing, which applies primarily to the seat-based model. Password sharing can in fact cause frustration for both the client and provider. For example, the client may discover their account has been suspended if the provider discovers or even suspects they have shared their password with individuals not included in the plan. While some providers are more lenient than others in this regard, they may use password sharing as a reason to command a higher fee at renewal.

Some content providers also offer their services on a pay-as-you-go basis, but something to be aware of here is that with this approach clients are forced to decide on which pieces of content are most relevant to them. This goes against the notion that investors benefit most from their primary research when they are able to consume a range of insights. 

It is also worth noting that if the content is linked to an expert network, there have been models where investors are able to use their credits to pay for content (click here for more information about expert network payment models). 

Additional considerations

As we have seen, when it comes to primary research content, investors need to be mindful about their current and longer-term needs. They also need to fully understand the parameters that define their subscription – not just what they can access, but who can access it. This can only be achieved by asking the right questions, some of which may not always be obvious. Other factors investors should consider asking their vendor or a prospective vendor include:

  • Does the option of accessing the content via third parties come with the subscription, or is there an additional fee for this?
  • Are add-ons available for additional content other than interview transcripts?
  • Does the vendor operate on a self-service basis or does an account manager source and recommend the content? Also, how robust is the recommendation engine?
  • What does the vendor’s support model look like? Will there be a dedicated point-person, and can the investor access any analysts? 
  • As content continues to evolve in primary research, there is also increasing investor appetite for data feeds. Investors may therefore benefit from understanding API integration capabilities.

Ultimately, when exploring options for primary research content, investors must ensure they understand how each vendor operates and their stance on each of the factors discussed in this article. This is because not only do vendors offer different types of content, but they also have different approaches to segmentation, access and payment models. 

Discover Third Bridge’s content suite: Forum, analyst-led Interviews, Community, investor-led Interviews, Maps, for a single view of value chains, and Primers and Tearsheets, for fundamental information on private companies.

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The information used in compiling this document has been obtained by Third Bridge from experts participating in Forum Interviews. Third Bridge does not warrant the accuracy of the information and has not independently verified it. It should not be regarded as a trade recommendation or form the basis of any investment decision.

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