Digital publishers have greatly benefited from content monetization and digital revolution, realizing the benefits of easier and faster delivery of content, and extending their audience across geographical boundaries. The impact of the internet and digital technologies on businesses has been well-documented. Digitization has motivated organizations to embrace new technologies and transform their business models. They can now experiment with various content monetization strategies to reap maximum benefits from their digital content. The need to adopt content monetization strategies becomes all the more important in the face of the rising costs of content acquisition and distribution. These strategies would help to generate revenues through digital content both for the short and long term.
This article looks at various content monetization opportunities for digital publishers based on the emerging trends and how they can be used as viable business models.
Offer Free Content: A possible content monetization strategy can be to offer a sample of content free of charge. The free content offer is actually an investment in future success. This is because sites providing valued content become very popular with satisfied readers who even share links with others on social media, thus, spreading positive word of mouth and influencing others to also read the content. Offering free content is a way to build loyal customers and make your content viral. However, this content monetization strategy works for the short-term and becomes unsustainable for the long run. As a result, many publishers begin with a free model and then transits to another one, which can be ad-supported or subscription-based.
Implement Paywall: In this form of content strategy, you can offer free content to create interest and then make access to the rest payable. Several digital newspapers and magazines are already following this strategy successfully. For instance, someone on your social media shares a link to an article in the New York Times newspaper and you click on it. You will be able to read a brief about the article but to read it fully, you will be asked to subscribe and make a monthly or yearly payment. Paywall content is therefore available for paid customers. This being said, this content monetization strategy works only if you have a strong brand or have built a strong reputation for quality content with your readers over a period of time.
Setting up an e-commerce platform: As a publisher, you can distribute your content through third-party sites or set up your own e-commerce system. You can directly sell your content to your customers on your site. However, this process can be a bit costly, and secondly you will have to deal with factors such as customer service, inventory control, and order fulfillment. This content monetization strategy works once you have built a huge customer base that purchases from you regularly.
Adopt a tiered access approach: The tiered approach is a combination of free and paid content. In this approach, publishers can offer sample content for free on registration or free trial subscription and then gain higher-level access for the more advanced content. With higher tiers, you can offer more content, and more timely content, along with several other value-added features. A successful example of the tiered access approach is best illustrated by the case of The New Yorker which set up a paywall for customers who had to pay to access its current digital issues. However, it allows free access to its archives for five months. This content monetization strategy proved very successful with the free subscribers converting them into paying customers after the close of the five-month window.
DRM-protect your content: Finally, make sure that you use digital rights management software to protect the copyright of your content. The Internet offers several advantages to a publisher; however, on the flip side, it makes it extremely easy for readers to share content for free. If your content is not DRM-protected you stand to lose on revenues and also your reputation.
Subscriptions: Subscriptions can be a steady form of revenue for the medium to long term. Subscriptions as a content monetization strategy is best illustrated on video content streaming sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The subscription-based content monetization strategy works well if you offer exclusive content. However, with the Internet, there is a huge amount of content that is available for free and so there is always the possibility that they might find the same content free or at a reduced price from your competitors. Subscriptions work only when you can guarantee exclusivity, and even this alone cannot guarantee reader engagement.
Affiliate Linking: This can prove an effective content monetization strategy if done right. Several e-commerce sites have affiliate programs that offer referral rewards for driving traffic to their website. In this strategy, consumers post detailed reviews of the content available on the publisher’s site and give its link encouraging readers to click on it and visit the site. Affiliate marketing helps to drive traffic to the publisher’s website, thereby, improving its visibility while also the opportunity to convert prospects into paying customers.
Native Advertising: Apart from customers, publishers can also boost their revenues through native advertising. Native ads refer to the sponsored posts that are proving successful for both advertisers and publishers.
APIs: As a publisher, you can monetize your content by making it available via APIs. This allows you to make your content accessible while retaining complete control. This method works for both new and archive content.
Multi-platform access: These days, readers use a variety of platforms to access the content. As a publisher, you can maximize your content reach by ensuring that you provide a seamless reading experience across all the platforms and devices even as they continue to evolve.
The Internet has opened up many new and cost-effective means to tap new audience and improve the bottom line. However, there is a lot of free content available on the Internet which poses stiff competition to the publishers. Adding to their woes is the fact that the online medium makes it extremely simple to share and download content which can result in loss of revenues. One way out for the publishers is to DRM-protect their content in order to monetize from it. Then there are other content monetization strategies they can follow to realize greater revenues. These include offering free content samples to draw in the audience and then mandating registrations and subscriptions to access the rest of it. Affiliate marketing is another strategy that has proved to be extremely successful. Finally, publishers should make sure that their content is responsive to all devices including the mobile because smartphones have emerged as the most popular medium for people to consume content.