As subscription revenue growth across print and digital audiences has become the new norm in the media industry, publishers can no longer rely solely on advertising revenue while charting a path to profitability.
But how can publishers win by identifying audiences most likely to buy as digital subscriptions are in the spotlight?
There is a winning formula evident in the current revolution in the industry that solves this challenge.
Here is how it works:
1. Adopting the Wave of Paywalls
Over the past eight years, local news publishers have increasingly adopted paywalls as a means of growing and retaining subscriber revenue. This shift was propelled by success at the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post in growing digital subscriptions.
This rise of digital subscription revenue promotes value for both publishers and readers. For publishers, new revenue streams are fostered. This is key to helping sustain or offset business pressures facing newsrooms due to changing news consumption habits.
Readers have a more appealing experience because of fewer ads on publisher websites. This gives them cleaner experiences, faster page load times and overall less clutter.
While digital subscription paywalls may limit the ad revenue opportunity from ads served on a publisher’s site, they do provide publishers with an opportunity to refine their advertising revenue strategy.
2. Gaining Stronger Consumer Insights
As consumers move from desktop to mobile and paywalls limit the number of visitors reading content, a good sales strategy requires selling digital inventory in more concrete ways. This starts with emphasizing quality of content and audience, while moving away from impression-based selling.
To do both successfully, the publisher must have audience insights platforms that validate both content and audience values. This requires insights that go beyond basic demographics. Publishers will need to highlight their audience’s psychographics: consumer preferences, affinities and likelihood to buy.
3. Adopting the Shift to Sponsorships
Publishers and advertisers benefit from the ensuing strategy shift that emphasizes sponsorships. Instead of offering or chasing impressions on a publisher’s site with better insights to validate an environment, sponsorships are the prevailing opportunity on the site.
An advertiser can invest in fixed blocks of advertising or shares of voice of certain types of content. An example of this could be 50 percent of advertising adjacent to all football content for one week or 100 percent of the pre-roll ad placements within video content for a day.
The benefits of this strategy are obvious:
- Advertisers get more visibility in the environments they want the most
- Fewer competitors or other advertisers run at the same time making the ad message more likely to get noticed
- Publishers typically get higher revenue per page view (RPM) and are no longer focused on trying to deliver impressions at all costs
- Readers see a cleaner environment and the sponsorships (when promoted) tell them that advertising partners value the opportunity
4. Providing Digital Marketing Services
Finally, as digital advertising requires more sophistication by advertisers to manage their platforms and campaigns, media publishers who meet those needs become essential partners.
The trend for digital marketing services expansion by media companies is well documented. Virtually every media company with direct sales teams now offers digital marketing services in some form and a growing number have either acquired digital agencies or service companies or built their own.
Publishers offering digital marketing services redeploy sales operations to include search engine marketing, data / campaign analysis, programmatic ad buying, email marketing, custom content, social media management and website building.
Offered in addition to their traditional owned inventory, publishers needed to build stories on how the services and audience reach complemented their core offering. Publishers find themselves now competing with traditional digital agencies. Ensuring their core competencies and platforms are leading edge is a constant challenge and puts even more emphasis on having the right strategy, partners and operational structure.
Hope for the Future
Today absolutely anyone can become a publisher and audience impressions are overly abundant. Given the commoditized environment media publishers find themselves in now, it’s imperative for media companies to maximize and accentuate the distinct value of their audience and content.
Publishers that adopt these strategies are well positioned to connect with their readers and advertisers will view them as a strategic partner in delivering vitally important marketing services and insights. Winning is possible when you understand your consumer better, pair that with your distinct value and then deliver it at scale.
Learn more about how Resonate can help your media company gain stronger consumer insights. Get in touch below and we’d love to show you how!
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