Monday, December 9, 2013

What Happened To Martindale-Hubbell / Lawyers.com?



It is commonly said that a jack of all trades is a master of none. 

On August 30th, LexisNexis (which owns the Martindale-Hubbell & Lawyers.com brands) announced a “joint venture” with Internet Brands to operate their internet marketing solutions together. Along with the announcement came Lexis’s elimination of 205 “roles”, including their CEO and head of marketing and business solutions, indicating that these roles will be carried out by Internet Brands. Naturally this creates a lot of questions for their attorney website clients who originally bought something more than directory listings with LexisNexis – especially since many/most/all? of the brand websites listed with Internet Brands are directories and blogs.  
 
So Who Is Internet Brands?

According to their website, Internet Brands was founded in 1998 as CarsDirect.com. In 2005, they decided to diversify (expand) their industry vertical niches and in 2006 changed their name to Internet Brands. The vertical brands listed by category on their website currently includes: Automotive, Careers, Health, Home, Legal, Licensing, Money, Shopping & Travel. Does expanding verticals outside of the legal space work for directories? AVVO tried it once expanding to lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. – now they are back to just legal. So does Internet Brands want to be a master of directories or a master of a business vertical?

What Does This Mean For Attorneys?

For a number of years now, I have had numerous attorneys ask me if they should continue to pay for and/or promote their AV ratings online. My question back to them was simple: “What is the quantifiable value it is providing you and what is your Return On Investment with it?” This is a simple measurement for all marketing and brand management – not just for them. In most cases, the attorneys couldn’t answer the question thereby answering it for themselves. In essence, this simply illustrates who much brand value may be left with these brands and as has been written by others recently in the legal marketing space, does their value even exist anymore?

I am not going to pretend to know what the future holds for the Martindale-Hubbell & Lawyers.com brands but I cannot deny the trends I have witnessed recently. Attorneys have questioned the value of their AV ratings, I rarely ever see a Lawyers.com TV commercial anymore and LexisNexis has decided to give-up sole management/ownership of these two brands to a company that runs many brands in many verticals. Does this mean nobody wanted to buy them first?

Looking forward, this could be welcome news for attorneys who rely solely on web portals like Lawyers.com to generate leads but it leaves a lot more questions about the other brands and services previously provided.  More importantly, it also draws to question if this new industry-ubiquitous entity provides all of the value needed to successfully market as an attorney. Internet Brands currently lists around 238 total brands (websites) on their website – 6 of which are legal brands (2.52%). Even a jack of all trades can do the math…

#lawyermarketing 

4 comments:

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