I have read a couple of cool articles in the past week that are all looking at how publishers are changing strategy in looking for new ways to monetize their content over digital.
Long story short, almost all publishers are in agreement that micro-payments or paywalls are more interesting options compared to subscription packages for on-line monetization. As far as mobile opportunities go, this is what the publishers had to say:
Top 3 Opportunities/Major Opportunities:
1. iPad/other tablets (94%)
2. Adoption of smartphones (92%)
3. Mobile Web (81%)
Paul Sweeting in his article on Gigaom.com adds some more interesting facts on the topic. Publishers are faced with a huge challenge and that is print advertising sells better than online but print sales are down. Thus, monetization of online and mobile is paramount for survival. Another point Paul makes is that News sites are not doing well with subscriptions and that takes us back to Paidcontent.org and micropayments and paywells.
So, there seems to be some consensus or at least a new found enthusiasm in looking for more creative ways to get consumers to acquire content and a differentiation between on-line and mobile monetization.
As far as the mobile/tablet world goes, at least from what we see, the more simple our publishers make their offers in the Apple and Google stores, the more success they have. One single purchase price and one yearly subscription is surely enough to begin with. Adding to this simple mix, some banner, interstitial or even embedded video advertising is a good next step which a lot of our partners are taking advantage of.
The more options you give a consumer to acquire your content, the more opportunities you are creating to generate revenue. By tracking consumer behavior on different mediums, publishers can find that new marketing mix which is needed to remain competitive.
It reminds me of surfcasters with multiple poles planted in the sand. You surely would not use the same bait or strategy for Bluefish as compared to a Flounder. Bluefish swim in schools and are top feeders while Flounder are bottom feeders. The same rule holds true for on-line monetization and mobile.
As Paul Sweeting points out in his article, a large part of newspaper traffic comes from search engine referrals. These are not loyal consumers usually but "random bites", looking for a specific piece of information. Perhaps this is why it makes sense for news sites to set up an easy on-line micro-payment system while on mobile devices well known brands and formats can simply offer a digital version of their product at a fair price and success is just a matter of numbers. What I mean here is if a publisher develops his/her app properly and promotes it well, 100,000 downloads will equal x single purchases, x subscriptions and x $ of ARPU in advertising.
In addition, we are finding that many publishers are reaping the benefits of single sign on by offering their physical subscribers free access to the digital version as a customer retention tool (not to mention the extra advertising revenue). The more publishers can get their readers onto different digital offerings, the more they will be able to track behavior and therefore continually fine tune the product and marketing of such product.
Yes, publishing is going to get more and more competitive and the winners are going to be those who can fulfill their readers' needs for free, for sale and most definitely the proper mix of both!
One thing for sure, digital marketing executives' lives have just become much-much more complicated and I believe there is an interesting new space for companies that can offer 360 degree analytics.
Last but not least, Apple's introduction of Newsstand will facilitate all of this and we are already programming for automatic integration into Newsstand for our partners
PS. If you are as interested in this topic as we are, come and listen to our CEO, Gionata Mettifogo and the Eco of Bergamo speak on this topic in Vienna at Wan-Ifra on October, 10th.
Photo by Sandro Maccioni