The Future of Monetization: How Today’s Savvy Digital Publishers Are Preparing for Tomorrow

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It’s an exciting time for digital publishing. Increasingly, consumers depend on digital channels for learning, entertainment, and shopping. A recent report found that as of April 2019, almost 4.4 billion people, or 58% of the worldwide population, are online.

With an ever-growing online audience, and increasing competition between content producers and publishers, digital publishers must quickly learn how to make money from their content and their platform.

If you’re wondering where to invest your time and effort when it comes to monetizing your digital content, look at what some of the world’s most savvy digital publishers are focusing on today for future financial success.

The Rise of the Subscriber

Paywalls, walled gardens, pay-to-play, whatever term you use, it’s hard to miss the growing number of subscriber and membership opportunities for online users.

During one of Adweek’s Masters of Monetization sessions, Karen Eccles, director of commercial innovation at U.K.-based newspaper The Telegraph, was upfront about how important subscribers are to her publication’s future.

“We’ve developed a subs-first approach to our readership,” she explained.

She said that the willingness of online readers, especially young people, to pay for ‘real news’ and ‘quality content’ makes serving those paid subscribers a priority over all other forms of monetization at The Telegraph.

This recurring income stream from subscribers helps smooth out the cash flow ups-and-downs that plague digital publishers.

Ramping Up Online Video

Forward-thinking digital publishers also harness the power of new video technologies to provide the visual content online users want and are willing to pay for.

As Emma Winchurch-Beale, president of World Media Group and international sales director at U.S.-based newspaper The Washington Post, explains in this ExchangeWire piece, advertisers attract new viewers with the latest technology – good news for publishers.

“The evolution of AR/AI [augmented reality and artificial intelligence] and 360 video technologies will play a part in driving revenue for publishers, enabling advertisers to literally transport customers to a destination or event; storytelling in an ever more engaging and impactful way.”

Smart digital publishers also leverage visually engaging high-quality content through platforms such as Taboola, Facebook and Instagram Stories, IGTV, and YouTube.

Platforms such as Twitch, which began as a live-streaming platform for gamers and expanded to live-streaming activities such as cooking and crafting, allow video publishers to monetize their videos in several innovative ways.

These include paid subscriptions and adding ads to the video stream to avoid ad-blocking detection.

Don’t Abandon Advertising

Despite the rise of other forms of monetization for digital publishers, advertising still offers a significant revenue stream. If anything, the broadening diversity of digital channels gives publishers more digital real estate to offer advertisers.

During AdvertisingWeek’s Future of Publishing conference earlier this year, Hamish Nicklin, chief revenue officer of U.K. multi-media company Guardian News & Media, discussed how the Guardian is working to diversify its channels to better connect with audiences, as well as brands.

“What that means – in the world of advertising, is a lot more opportunities for people to partner with us,” he said. “We do print, we do audio, we do video, we have an awful lot of different channels and ways we can communicate with readers and also with brands. And that’s just a real evolution of the traditional approach.”

Aside from news sites, advertising revenue continues to offer a solid monetization strategy for other types of content creators and digital publishers as well.

“Advertising is a key part of the Twitch experience, because that’s how content creators generate a large portion of their revenue on Twitch,” explains Steve Ford, VP sales Europe for Twitch.

Diversifying Income Streams… Within Income Streams

Look at the monetization activities of savvy digital publishers and it is obvious that diversifying income streams is crucial.

Everywhere, publishers are developing and implementing plans to earn money from activities such as signing up subscribers/members, introducing or expanding e-commerce platforms to sell digital products or tangible merchandise, lead generation and advertising. No one is focusing on a single income stream.

There’s also a move towards diversifying the income opportunities within each income stream.

During Advertising Week’s Future of Publishing Conference, Pete Wootton, chief digital officer of U.K.-based publisher Dennis Publishing, explained that advertising offers several different income stream opportunities.

“[You can] diversify within advertising, through things like content partnership and native advertising, maximizing reader revenue, affiliate strategy,” he said.

Position your digital publication for success in an increasingly crowded online world with a strong, yet diverse monetization strategy. Provide quality content to your paid subscribers, increase your video content, and diversify income opportunities across and within each income stream. Implementing these strategies today will make all the difference to your success tomorrow.

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