Genealogy is Serious Big Business for Ancestry.com and MyHeritage

In a time when all online businesses are looking at how to turn their sites into profits, genealogy sites are reporting online business models that are turning our passion for family history into big money.

Investors.com reported recently on Ancestry.com (ACOM) and their sales growth and status.

In the past quarter, earnings left 125%. Ancestry is outperforming other stocks in the market by 96%, delighting investors, even though its current rating isn’t very high and a sell off has been happening. Still, analytics are predicting a 51% increase by the end of the year or more. Experts report Ancestry has a market cap of USD $2 billion.

Business Insider recently highlighted MyHeritage, a Tel Aviv based company whose aggressive marketing family history model is taking on Ancestry.

According to that article and another by AllThingsD, “MyHeritage may have cracked the code on social payments.”

These sites make money from advertising and premium subscriptions to “advanced” features. MyHeritage gained attention recently for using social media and networking to encourage family members to subscribe in their new “Family Goal” marketing strategy.

By encouraging family members to “share the costs” in MyHeritage, members feel like they are getting a better deal.

Its new “Family Goals” will allow families to encourage each other to chip in to pay together for those subscriptions.

In testing earlier this year, these MyHeritage group plans were split among an average of three family members, and anecdotally families said that by spreading around the commitment to pay for the site, they felt more invested in it.

Combined with personal emails as part of their marketing campaign, it appears that the campaign is creating a sense of loyalty and easily increasing profits for the 57 million registered users service.

While these business sites are more fascinated with the social networking aspect of their marketing campaign, it’s fascinating for family history researchers to consider the wisdom of participating in such services.

While sharing the costs of subscription might help family members feel more vested in the service, does it really encourage them to contribute to the family history research and data?

If a family history researcher can’t find family members to share the cost, can they afford it on their own? Is there a perception now that the service is too costly without splitting the costs? Is the cost, shared or not, truly worth it? What services and benefits are available that can’t be found elsewhere for free or lower costs?

More important for family history bloggers and online publishers, what are the terms of service and who owns the data on these services. Can it be imported and exported freely and easily? What happens if the research dies or loses interest? Will their subscription transfer to someone else? Or will their information be closed out and lost?

Genealogy has been big business online for the past 10 years and I expect it to grow even bigger as it gets easier for people of all ages and levels of web experience become interested in their family’s history, especially with the current aging population.

Most Recent Articles by Lorelle VanFossen


About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen hosts Family History Blog covering her ancestors and related family members. She is one of the top bloggers in the world, and host of the Lorelle on WordPress, providing WordPress and blogging tips for bloggers of all levels. A popular keynote speaker and trainer, she is also editor, producer, contributor, and official disruptive thinker for Bitwire Media which includes WordCast, Making My Life Network, Stories of Our Journeys, Life on the Road, WordCast Conversations, and the very popular WordCast Podcast.
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3 Responses to Genealogy is Serious Big Business for Ancestry.com and MyHeritage

  1. Pingback: Lorelle’s World as of July 18th, 2011 | Taking Your Camera on the Road

  2. Andrew Gorczycki says:

    Lorelle,
    Thanks for very interesting resources published on your site.
    I would like to start my own heritage site.
    Could you kindly suggest the best platform to start?
    my intuition is to start with wordpress blog site but I would also like to include family tree and automated input form for family members dispersed around the world.
    Are there any wordpress plugins which support genealogy?

    Thanks again and best regards,

    Andrew

    • I replied to this but it appears the reply didn’t take. My apologies.

      I recommend WordPress. If you are totally new to this, WordPress.com. All family tree services and software allow exporting of family trees (make sure only deceased and not enough information on the living to violate privacy) in HTML format. You can copy the content code (not the entire HTML page) and paste it into a Page on WordPress using the HTML Editor in the Page Panel, like I have here. No Plugins required.

      I’m still researching WordPress Plugins that support genealogy and so far, I haven’t found anything that’s easy to use and integrates with most family history sites and software, but brilliant work is being done on some to convert GEDCOM files. I’ll be researching these and writing about them soon.

      Thanks.

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