paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

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4. Reed Elsevier

Business information, United Kingdom (Public)

Last year’s rank: N/A

Digital Content Revenue

$5,936,578,200 (63% of total)


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Digital Snapshot

One of the biggest beasts in classical B2B publishing, the Anglo-Dutch group operates its Elsevier science and health publisher, the LexisNexis research service, a tradeshows business and niche trade publisher Reed Business Information. In other words, right at the point exposed by digital disruption. But Reed is successfully migrating its customers from atoms to bits – now print, which made half of Reed’s revenue five years ago, is just a fifth, and digital is 63 percent.

Key Move

The transition trick has been re-imagining what businessfolk want as tools, not merely publications. RBI, which remains part of Reed after an aborted sell-off attempt, has continued divesting titles while launching and buying subscription data services. That culminated in the recent announcement of a planned sale of Hollywood trade bible Variety.

Our Methodology

Reed Elsevier says digital content is 63% of its total revenue across divisions.

Source: 2011 Annual Return

— RA

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