Making the Switch from Ad Revenue to Reader Revenue
The global spent on digital ads is increasing and so is the length of the ad value chain, leading to decrease in individual publisher revenue. A lion’s share of this increase in revenue is being eaten up by the Google-Facebook duopoly. Publishers are not able to sustain on ad-revenue alone. Moreover, ads kill the user experience. Some publishers in an attempt to increase ad revenue, have kept their pages so cluttered with ads, that it becomes very difficult to read the content on the page. The number of people using ad block software is steadily increasing.
By 2020, it is estimated that Adblocker led revenue loss worldwide would be more than $27 billion.
Reader Revenue is the Sustainable Solution
It's time to go back to the old school model - when readers paid for the newspapers and magazines, just that this time it is all going to be done online.
Switching to reader revenue model also puts away the pressure of creating Ad friendly content. You can thus have more freedom over your content and can create what you are passionate about. And doing this will also get you more popular with your readers.
Good Quality Content is the Foundation for your Reader Revenue Model.
Rethink your content strategy. Understand your audience better. Sketch down your audience personas - who they are, what they care about and what they love to read about. Invest in getting talented content creators - ones that care about the same issues as your readers - so that it's a natural fit. Then create in-depth content that adds real value to your audience's life.
Create Better Engagement through Personalization
You have to get your audience experience the great content you have created. Your marketing should mainly focus on the following
- Getting your content to potential audience
- Building a relationship with your readers
- Getting them into a habit of coming back to your platform
Find out what mediums or platforms your potential audience use currently. Run campaigns and put out relevant content to attract new readers.
Ensure that you show your right audience the right content at the right time.
You have to form an emotional connection with your readers. You can't use one-size fits all strategy. What's valuable for someone may not be valuable for someone else. Thus you have got to get your audience data and deliver personalised content to get them sticking to your brand.
Engagement is the key factor in getting your readers hooked to your content. Beef up your internal tools for engagement. Entice your readers to comment and share your content and get them looping around your web pages. Sending out personalised push notifications can also get them into a habit of reading your content.
Different Subscription Models
- Paywall - When all of your content has to be paid for.
- Metered paywall - When a certain number of your content is free and the reader has to pay if he/she wants to access more.
- Freemium paywall model- Offering readers a mix of free and paid content.
- Reader donations -Getting voluntary one-time or monthly donations from your readers.
What works for you depends on who you are and the type of content you create. The Guardian believes in keeping their content free for their audience and is thus asking them for donations instead of imposing a paywall. The New York Times is implementing metered paywalls - where the reader are given ten free content a day and they have to pay to access more. The financial times, on the other hand, has imposed a strict paywall.
Add More Value to your Readers’ Money.
Your readers love it when they get something free along with the subscriptions. The Forbes has created a community for their subscribers to network with each other. Another publication is giving free Spotify subscriptions along with their content.
It's not a Flip of the Coin Switch
You have to make a gradual shift from ad revenue to direct reader revenue. Do a lot of research and test before you implement any model. You can start with donations - then switch to the metered paywall and ultimately to paywalls.
You have to clearly communicate to your readers on why you are doing this and also the terms and conditions of the subscriptions.
It's not just about Subscriptions
Reader revenue is not just about subscriptions or monthly donations. It's about monetising that relationship you have built with your readers. Use your brand name to deliver more products and services. Like The Atlantic, which is selling e-books on its platforms. Many other publications are hosting events that align with their brand purpose.
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