What are examples and results of innovative monetization strategies used by top publishers online across the USA?
Monetizing digital content is not an easy task. It's very difficult to attract the attention of the readers or customers towards blogs or websites and convert them into paid subscribers. The research below provides innovative strategies used by well-known and popular digital content publishing companies like Twitter, Netflix, The New Yorker, Amazon and many others.
Although, no specific definition was provided regarding the term "innovative" in relation to various monetization strategies used by "top" publishers online across the USA, first of all common monetization strategies were searched for after digging through several articles, and from there only those facts and strategies were considered that were not common and had examples that were innovative. So, the research highlights those uncommon examples that were used by various "well-known" and "popular" publishers that were assumed to be amongst the "top" ones across the USA. A deep dive of the findings is listed below.
Twitter's free-at-first gamble approach
Providing digital content online for free during the launch of the site or blog for short-term is an innovative and excellent strategy in order to gain a quick popularity and building a readership or customer base. Many sites or blogs after providing free content for a short duration start ad-support, ask for a subscription and receive investor revenue in order to support its content on a long-term basis. The biggest example of this strategy is the fee micro-blogging site Twitter, which was worth $10 billion in 2016 even after achieving a much higher feat in 2013 by fetching $40 billion.
Netflix's straightforward sale approach
This is one of the simplest approaches that involves direct sales by setting up of an e-commerce content monetization platform and asking customers to buy goods and services directly from the publisher. However, the publisher has to face the burden of inventory control, customer service, order fulfillment, among many other difficulties in this approach. Using this strategy sites like Netflix have been very successful, but as far as a new publisher is concerned there is always a possibility of a customer finding the same content for free somewhere else, and hence this approach doesn't guarantee 100% customer's engagement.
The New Yorker's metered paywall approach
In this approach, the content is provided for free digital access for a limited period and then the customer is asked for a purchase. This technique for monetization is far better than those in the "Dark Ages" of the internet where the content was exclusively available to a publisher, who demanded payments from the customers by hiding that exclusive content behind the paywalls. However, today such exclusivity is not feasible as similar or exact content could be available somewhere else for free access. The approach has been successful for The New Yorker which provided free content to anyone for five months and then charged for accessing its digital content by instituting a paywall. With this approach, The New Yorker was able to attract a large number readers and even converted many of them as paid subscribers after the five months of free access.
Amazon's affiliate link approach
The approach is used mostly by e-commerce sites like Amazon and many others, provides value to the reviewers of their products on a particular blog or a site that includes a referral link to the e-commerce site. The reviewers who provide a detailed review of the products through their blog posts are credited for each sale made by the affiliate e-commerce sites. The reviewers or promoters use various search engine strategies like Google Adwords to draw traffic to their sites or blogs. In 2016 one of the Amazon's affiliate review sites, The Wirecutter was purchased by The New York Times for $30 million.
Apster's native advertising campaign approach
Instead of asking for subscription fee from the customers, the digital publishers rely on sponsored posts and hence is beneficial for both the publishers and advertisers. Apester uses the same approach by providing an experimental storytelling platform for publishers, brands, and consumers. In 2016, they had shared over a billion content posts on publications like The Huffington Post, The Telegraph, and USA Today.
The non-traditional marketing campaign
The digital content publishers these are also developing innovative marketing approaches for monetizing their online content. One such technique is the event promotion. According to a recent report by HubSpot Benchmark 35% of digital marketers found this technique of event promotion increasingly effective to promote their content online other the other effective strategies like native advertising. In the same survey, the traditional print advertising approach was found to be a less effective approach by 47% of digital publishers.
Some of the most popular and innovative event promotion techniques, other than the print media, includes leveraging webinar sponsorship, event sponsorship, newsletter sponsorship, publishing e-books, selling subscribers list, introducing new product or content to engage the readers or customers, among many others.
Other innovative approaches
1. Tiered Access offering: Using this approach the publishers provide a sample or the main highlights of the content to the user as a free subscriber and provides the complete or detailed content only after paid subscription by the user.
2. Multi-platform Access: The publisher can publish the content on wide variety of platforms to attract the customer traffic lying across all platforms by providing them a seamless experience.
3. Micro-transactions: The method can easily co-exist with the more common subscription approach, but some user want to pay only to a particular feature in the content instead of paying for the whole content, in such a case this technique can independently exist using various strategies like Pay To Play or Own, which ask for payment or micro-payment only when user wants to access or download that particular feature of the content.
4. Publishing e-book through Leanpub: Leanpub is an innovative platform that allows authors to effectively write, publish and sell their e-books. It provides 90% royalty, minus 50¢ per sale, to the author. The platform also provides a variable pricing model with which the authors can easily increase or decrease the price of their published works based on the feedback they receive from the readers.
To wrap it up, the research above highlights various innovative techniques like free-at-first gamble approach, straightforward sale approach, metered paywall approach, affiliate link approach, and event promotion approach, among many others that have been successfully implemented by some well-known companies across the USA. The research also provides some other approaches that could be effectively implemented by the digital publishing companies to monetize their online digital content.