What are examples and results of innovative monetization strategies used by top publishers online across the UK?
As of July 2016, some of the top online publishers in the United Kingdom include BBC, DMG Media, The Guardian UK, and Trinity Mirror. These four publishing companies have implemented multiple strategies in order to increase monetization for their businesses. Below you will find a breakdown of the innovative ways in which each publishing company builds revenue, as well as the results of these methods.
In 2015, DMG Media partnered with Fonix, a mobile payment service for media and telecommunication companies, in order to offer "interactive mobile services" to their customers. This partnership has provided DMG the opportunity to increase their engagement with the online community. Through Fonix, DMG offers "competitions, feedback, sports and news alerts, paywall and other content services." While not all of their content requires a payment from readers, Fonix has made it possible for DMG to require a subscription or payment for premium news. The addition of contests through purchasing access has also enticed a larger audience to pay the extra price. Between 2015 and 2016, this new partnership increased the consumer mobile spending by 28% for DMG Media.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
In July 2017, BBC informed the public that they would be investing $44 million into developing children's content meant to compete with YouTube and Netflix. These funds are directed specifically towards BBCs youth video content, like CBeebies (an online BBC site for children), CBBC, and BBC's TV channels for children. BBC stated that their reason for this investment is due to the decline in "children's TV viewership." Viewership in 2015 dropped from 15 to 13.5 hours a week, and by November 2016, it was reported that youth were spending more time online than watching TV. The goal of investing in children's online video content is to get viewers interested early on in their development and retain them over time, thus securing the future viewer base. Since this is a new program that is investing in children, the success is not yet known.
The Guardian UK
In 2014, The Guardian launched a membership program that supports the ideals of a publishing company. The company has made it clear that this program is not a paywall — content is free for everyone, regardless of membership status. Rather, the idea behind the membership is a support system of individuals that believe in Guardian's journalism and wish for it to remain open to the public. Members, instead, receive priority booking and discounts on sponsored events. Membership is offered on a multi-tier scale: Supporters pay $6.32/month, partners pay $19/month, and patrons pay $76/month. Through this program, The Guardian has gained over 200,000 subscribers paying for the supporter membership, a number that grew from just 15,000 in the past year. At the current growth rate, the company is expecting to have around 1 million subscribers by April 2019, generating over $73 million in revenue.
Trinity Mirror has made use of a multi-faceted approach in order to monetize through ads. The publishing company gets 40% of their total digital revenue through programmatic ads alone. By partnering with Zenith Optimedia, the company has been able to target individuals that may be interested in specific information that they have to offer. This is done through video ads on platforms like YouTube that get prospective readers interested and make them want to return for more. This partnership has increased the publishing company's yields by 100% for videos on their website. Trinity Mirror has also partnered with Facebook to strategically place ads to instant articles. This allows readers to read and view information from the company without even leaving the page, increasing the revenue yield from Facebook by 30%. Trinity Mirror has also made a significant use of header bidding — a method for priority ad placement on web pages — to get ads to their articles seen in more locations. This practice has increased the total programmatic revenue for the company by 17%.
The use of ads, investing, and memberships have made it possible for the above companies to monetize through their online publishing sites. The Guardian, Trinity Mirror, and DMG Media have seen a prominent revenue growth through the new revenue-building strategies that they have implemented. Because BBCs investment is new and in a young community, it is difficult to know the results of this strategy. However, should it work, this could produce long-term revenue for the publishing company through retaining users.