Reinventing the Publishing Wheel Series: Creating Revenue Opportunities
Before the beginning of this year, many publishers use to consider programmatic as a reliable, easily scalable revenue stream. However, as media begin to embrace a new era of transparency, audiences are calling for a revival of truth and honesty in the content they consume. This has implications on the previously huge source of income from Ad vendors. With data breaches along with GDPR’s after-effects injecting further doubt into Ad Revenue reliance, a lot of publishers have been asking, at what point did we lose control of our own revenue streams?
This is the final part of our series focused on discussing the main struggles in the publishing industry. In this three-piece series, we summarise the keys take away and solutions adopted by publishers from the start of this year. In this third post, we focus on how the publishing industry is diversifying its revenue stream to survive.
Though the decrease in Ad revenue may prove a problem for some, there are still publishers that see it generating results. At Digiday Vail, Heather Dietrick stated they still believe in advertising at the Daily Beast, where 50% of their revenue is still being garnered from advertising. But with Google’s delay on a proper GDPR compliance structure, which has created a ripple effect to other brands, people are getting increasingly antsy with the interconnectedness of bigger companies, and the debris that starts falling when they are unstable.
At Digiday Vail, Mathew Barnes stated that programmatic isn’t a main source of revenue at ESPN, and that branded content takes the forefront. It goes without saying the content you create is the heart and soul of your brand and influences the willingness for your audience to invest. If you have a look at our previous article in this series, we hash-out some ideas of how you can become more self-sufficient through memberships. With a variety of new models for subscriptions, driven revenue pioneered by publishers like De Correspondent, the possibility of generating revenue from readers is out there. The New York Times, Vanity Fair and Star Tribune are just a few of the many outlets that are dedicating resources to growing subscriptions.
FROM OFFLINE TO YOUR POCKET
Outside of this, a lot of what we overheard at Cannes Lions, was around the importance of live events. Time Out Group has been hosting various events that reflect their content and branding, including a floating cinema on the Thames sponsored by Rekorderlig Botanicals cider and a silent disco at The Shard skyscraper. The uptake of more events has seen a revenue increase of 19% year on year for Time Out, generating great partnerships and opportunities to collaborate with sponsors. This way, your audience also has an opportunity to be included in your brand activities, which will in-turn further brand awareness.
Dazed is another brand using the offline world to uplift the online engagement. With all co-branded projects having an experience included, Dazed is doubling their efforts running 40 events or parties for brands this year. To stay connect and create relevant content, the publisher asks its audience about important issues they’re currently facing. This collaborative system delivers an authentic experience matching their history of being provocative. On the other hand, Bleacher Report is using their events as ‘proof-of-concept’ and generates their revenue through merchandising and content licensing.
Though events are a huge pull, they are not always viable budget-wise. But collaborations and partnerships come in many forms, one of them being branded content. At the Digital Publishing Innovation Summit in London, Ali Gray spoke about the value of creating authentic branded content and the partnership with Samsung at Harper’s Bazaar UK. The collaboration placed the branded content centre stage, leaving its intentions transparent, but also maintaining the same level of creative and editorial. The opportunities presented in branded content shouldn’t jeopardise your brand identity. Being clear on the intention of advertising and presenting it in a way that’s identifiable and enjoyable for your readers is a win-win. This way you can maintain the ethos and reliability of your brand, while also generating revenue.
At Digiday’s video summit in Amsterdam, we had the opportunity to hear Andrew Saunders talk about the various revenue routes Tastemade has taken along its company journey. Starting with food tutorials, they were able to take their concept and develop a flourishing food brand out of it, including e-commerce. Tastemade’s demographic is defined as an audience that craves quick and accessible introductions to cooking food. Seeing this, the brand start offering cooking starter kits, materials and equipment, extending the visual experience to a physical reality. This eventually lead to the opening of their restaurant in Santa Monica and a brick-and-mortar cafe in Brazil. If the goal is your own merchandise, introducing e-commerce doesn’t fit every model, and what you sell should reflect the ideology of your brand.
DIVERSIFYING YOUR OWN REVENUE
From all the suggestions above, the main thing to keep in mind is that your strategy has to fit the constraints of what is possible for you while also reflecting your brand identity and ethos. For example, organising live events that showcase travel and experience fit Time Out’s branding or project protest slogans on London’s landmarks and being provocative like Dazed. Keep your brand voice ‘real’ must be the main focus.
Brick-and-mortar store and e-commerce that extend cooking experiences like Tastemade can be a good opportunity to engage your audience and encouraging their further participation in your content. But don’t forget to grow commerce revenue you will have to spend on people and technology to keep everything flowing. What we would recommend most of all is listen to your audience and using the above examples as inspiration to develop your own unique stream of revenue.