There are so many different monetization models available today, it’s no wonder so many publishers are confused about which ones are right for them. Taking a look at the most common ones…
Print isn’t dead yet although the last rites are being read over some newsprint. There will always be a place for print with some readers;
One of the biggest challenges facing publishers today is how to monetize the masses with the growing popularity of ad blockers and people’s willingness to pay for digital news trending in the wrong direction.
I like to compare them to music aficionados who still purchase vinyl records – a highly discerning crowd, but not a market loaded with money.
Digital editions are seeing some revival in the industry, but with the growing mistrust in mainstream media, it’s hard to see a prosperous future for this form of paid content in the long term.
Metered and hard paywalls have largely plateaued. Even the poster child of paywalls, The New York Times with one million+ digital subscribers, has seen its growth flatten in recent years.
Free content aggregation services that rely on advertising revenue (e.g. Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, Snapchat Discover, etc.) can bring value in terms of content reach, but they also bring risks, such as the forfeiture of content control, the potential loss of advertiser loyalty, brand degradation, editorial and advertorial censorship and less and less reason for readers to visit a publisher’s website again.
Paid content aggregation services include:
- Newsstands (Google Play, Amazon, Zinio)
- “iTunes for news” (e.g. Blendle)
- “Netflix for news” (e.g. PressReader, Readly, Magzter)
Some of these platforms offer freemium models, but when a reader wants to read premium content, they’ll have to pay for it. That being said, given the spending trends of readers, it’s unlikely that publishers can survive on the declining number of news junkies willing to cough up the cash.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that quality journalism should come with a price; I just don’t think the readers should necessarily be the ones to pay it. Let someone else pay through sponsored access.
One form of sponsored access happens between publishers and their advertisers, where the advertisers who provide quality and relevant ads within the issue pay on behalf of readers for access to that premium publication.
Another form of sponsored access that is gaining serious momentum worldwide is with hotels, airlines, restaurants, cruise ships, corporate offices and libraries. Today, thousands of these customer-first businesses such as Qantas Airways, AccorHotels, Uber, Silversea Cruises and the Library of Congress, to name just a few, are sponsoring unlimited access to thousands of magazines and newspapers.
Not only does it provide high value to their target markets and help businesses differentiate themselves from disruptive competition, it just makes dollars and sense to them.
The business model is simple. It costs nothing for publishers to join and when someone (i.e. a sponsor such as a hotel or airline) pays for content read by their hotel guests or airline passengers, the publisher gets paid.
It’s a win-win-win situation all around:
- Readers get the desired frictionless access to quality, trusted content and an engaging, educational or entertaining experience for free;
- Businesses are able to offer unique value to their customers in an eco-friendly way, saving money while growing brand equity and loyalty across all demographics;
- Publishers can instantly serve a massive audience of hundreds of millions of people they couldn’t possibly reach on their own, growing reach, audited circulation and revenues.
Pillars for profit
We’re living in an industry where the only constant seems to be disruption of everything we’ve held dear for decades. It’s no wonder fear infiltrates almost every aspect of our business – fear of change, fear of ad blockers, fear of cannibalization, fear of brand irrelevancy and, let’s face it, fear of extinction itself.
But instead of being paralyzed by that fear, take heart in the fact that:
- Audiences have a huge appetite for quality content and always will
- Opportunities for diversification with new revenue possibilities are there for the taking
- Reader - and publisher - friendly business models are available for every publisher, regardless of content type, size or region.
Audience First + Diversification + the Right Business Models are the three pillars to a successful monetization strategy. Embrace them with a new passion that will lead you to profitability!