3 pillars of monetization
When it comes to developing a profitable monetization strategy, there are three pillars that must form its foundation: Audience, Diversification and Business Models.
A monetization strategy is only as strong as its weakest pillar, so it’s important to build effective and sustainable tactics within each one to maximize success and achieve one’s goals.
I have lost count of the number of publishers who’ve said to me over the past few years that they are “digital first”. And while I applaud their commitment to this bits and bytes world in which we live, I’m afraid they have missed the proverbial boat by not putting readers at the helm of their close-to-sinking ships.
Too few publishers realize that the glory days of monologue journalism are over and that today’s readers are calling the shots. People own the web, not brands, and those people have the power to dictate what they want and don’t want. In terms of media…
What they want
- Frictionless access to quality content (editorial and advertising) at the right price
- An engaging, educational and entertaining experience
What they don’t want
- Barriers to access (e.g. regional restrictions, paywalls)
- Poor online experiences (e.g. intrusive and low-quality advertising, security loopholes, slow page loading and invasive data tracking)
But instead of engaging with readers, many publishers are cutting them out of the content conversation. Blaming trolls and claiming brand-protection as reasons for muzzling their readers, they justify the killing of comments and opinions on their digital properties – pushing readers away to social media to have their dialogues, and taking their advertising money with them.
When I see this happening, I’m reminded of a quote by American columnist and critic, Molly Ivins, in 2006. Her comments were targeted at the newspaper industry, but the same can be said for magazines, “I don’t mind being in a dying industry, but it really pisses me off to be in one that’s committing suicide.”
Know your audience to grow your audience
Driven mostly by millennials who were forecasted to control US$2.45 trillion of purchasing power globally last year, the world is moving from a knowledge-based economy to a passion-based one.
A 2015 study conducted by The Cambridge Group (TCG) showed that when brands are able to tap into a customer’s passion, profits will follow. And that consumers who have a sizeable emotional engagement and passion for a product or service are the most willing to pay for those products and services that meet their needs.
I don’t mind being in a dying industry, but it really pisses me off to be in one that’s committing suicide.”
American columnist and critic, Molly Ivins
To better serve these consumers, some publishers are starting to segment their content based on people’s passions, producing bundles that could be packaged separately and include not only written content, but audio, video and even syndicated content from other sources such as broadcast media. Even Facebook is experimenting in segmenting its newsfeed in its mission to become the world’s best personalized newspaper.
But how does a publisher discover its readers’ passions? One answer – Smart Data.
Going beyond data mining and statistical analysis, Smart Data exploits behavioral analytics to predict how people will discover, consume and engage with content based on ambiances, what’s happening around them and what they’re doing at any point in time.
Those predictions will lead to more and more granular levels of targeting, allowing publishing systems to choose the optimal content (including ads) to deliver to the person, when, where and how they want to receive it.
The technology is continuing to develop, but it’s already being deployed by people-focused brands, such as Netflix where
60% of the viewings are the result of Smart Data-driven recommendation algorithms that go way beyond user star ratings.
In a recent interview with Ken Doctor of Newsonomics, he advocated that publishers should invest in Smart Data in a big way in 2016, “I’ve been urging publishers to think about business intelligence, also called analytics, or data science. It is becoming the center of every media business. You have to have knowledge of your customers and what they’re reading and want to read, and similarly of your advertisers and what they want and how well you’re performing. Without that core of business intelligence, you’re flying blind at this point, and by 2020 you won’t have any business left.”
But before you can learn about your audience, you need to find them and then get them to discover you – something that’s getting harder to do every digital day. In the US alone there are more than 18,000 magazine titles; that’s 225 billion pages of editorial content competing for readers’ eyeballs.
And even when a publisher does gain the attention of a reader, retaining it is also getting much tougher. Fifteen years ago humans had an attention span of 12 seconds. Today we’re sitting at 8.25 seconds – almost a second less than that of a goldfish! It’s no wonder that in the UK the average number of minutes per day a reader will spend in 2017 with a magazine will have declined 58% from 2010 to just two minutes.
To attract and retain the interest of readers, publishers need to engage with them between page-flips through…