Revenue - A Major Challenge for Publishers in 2018
Digital publishing took a surge in the early 2010s, with the rise in the users of smartphones and tablets. Fast forwarding to 2018, digital publishing has replaced more than half of the print publication, but making revenue out of it still remains a challenge, even for the publishing giants like the New York Times.
Publisher Revenue through Ads
Digital Ads is the first go-to option for any publisher. Although the global spent in digital ads is increasing, individual publisher revenue is decreasing, owing to a large number of competitors and also any increase in revenue is being eaten by the Google-Facebook duopoly.
More than 40% of publishers describe their digital ad revenue as shrinking or static and is not producing enough to sustain their business. Moreover, the number of people using Ad block software is steadily increasing, India alone has 122 million users. By 2020, it is estimated that websites worldwide would lose more than $27 billion in ad revenue.
Leading publishers like Economic Times and Times of India are requesting their readers to switch off the Ad blocks. Some other publishers are using anti - Adblock softwares on their websites.
Publisher Revenue through Native Ads
Native Ads is becoming a popular mode of revenue among publishers, but doing native ads can get tricky. The challenge lies in seamlessly blending the ad into the existing content of your platform. They are most effective when told as stories, building an emotional connection between the brand and the readers. And it is advisable to tag native ads as sponsored posts. Many readers feel cheated otherwise and this can do serious damage to your credibility.
Publisher Revenue through Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing has proved effective for many publishers. But, the products you promote should be within the niche of your publishing company and should be something you genuinely find good and want to promote. Otherwise, your readers would feel cheated and will lose the trust in your brand of publishing. Many publishers also recommend informing the readers that the products are affiliates.
Reader Revenue Models
Major publishers are making the switch from advertiser revenue to reader revenue. Reader revenue is what they feel will sustain their business in the long run. Some like Financial times have imposed a strict paywall - i.e all their content has to be paid for and others like New York Times are implementing a metered paywall - where a certain number of their content is free and the reader has to pay if he/she wants to access more. Freemium is another paywall model - offering readers a mix of free and paid content. Publications like Guardian are asking for donations from readers to continue their sincere journalism.
You cannot implement any of these reader revenue models if your traffic is mostly from casual readers. You should have a loyal reader base who comes back to your platform again and again. And for this, you should produce super valuable content that stands out from the ocean of content that's available to the readers today.
Publisher Revenue through Events
Events not only earn revenue through event tickets and sponsorship, but also help build a personal connection with the readers. To pull off the event effectively, you need to have dedicated and skilled team. And random events don't always work. Its best found effective when aligned with the aim and goals of your publishing business.
Venturing into New Services and Products
Many publishers are leveraging their brand name and website traffic to venture into new services and products. Like Malayalam Manorama - which has an app called ‘Ente deal’ which offers discount deals in local stores. Or the UK based, Dennis publishing which started an e-commerce under their brand name for selling cars.
No Rules - Get Innovative!
There are no written ways to make revenue out of publishing in this digital age. What works for you depends on type of content you produce and what works for somebody else might not work for you. The idea is to get innovative. Like Yourstory which has put a separate page on their website, endorsing events they are paid for.
Use data - experiment - use data again to see what works - implement.
And in the process find the right blend of revenue modes that fit you and then keep evolving!
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