By Dave Gurney, Operations Director, Alchemetrics.
Publishers, like many other businesses, are in trouble. The ongoing effects of the recession are having a direct impact on advertising sales, and as budgets remain limited these media owners are faced with falling incomes, and must look to other sources of revenue in order to survive.
The shrinking pool of advertisers has forced many publishers to cut back on printing and reduce their circulation numbers. In some extreme cases, print titles are even closing.
But let’s not panic just yet. Digital also brings with it the most important opportunity for evolution in the media and publishing sector, if media owners are prepared to embrace a new way of thinking. So what can you do to unlock the revenue potential from those interacting online?
1. First and foremost, don’t panic because your offline titles are closing.
As long as you are willing to acknowledge the changes that have and continue to take place in the media landscape, you will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that digital publishing offers.
The very nature of online publishing means that the majority of people that engage with your content will be repeat visitors, which creates the opportunity for gathering a huge amount of information and gaining revenue from this insight.
2. One of the most immediate approaches that you can take, and one which can tap into fresh sources of valuable insight, is to improve and expand the collection of reader data.
For instance, as they interact online (either visiting the site to consume news and other content, or to engage with the brand via a competition) serve them dynamic questions based on what gaps are missing in the data already held on them.
3. Creating a stock of questions which can be served up to each individual based on what you want to know about them next can fast become a prolific stream of new data and can help to turn reader and subscriber data into an up to the minute, monetised resource.
This approach also avoids asking the same individual the same question over and over again; reducing the annoyance felt by some when asked to repeat information.
4. If you choose to do this, it opens up another opportunity, that of enabling advertisers and other partners to get involved, helping to design questions based on their own requirements.
For a premium they can engage with the readership, find out their views on an infinite range of subjects, and collect all important data to enable them to interact with each individual further.
5. Competitions are another good source of interaction.
Brands can record details from entrants which will give them the opportunity to access more than just a name and contact details. The advantage of using a competition strategy is the potential collation of a dynamic database. Put simply, a competition encourages more readers / consumers to share their details. Incentivising with a partner shares the cost and improves the return.
6. Creating exclusive content can also be a useful tool in encouraging readers to impart information on them.
Asking them to register to access a special ‘members only’ area of the site can instigate a relationship based on the premise of ‘content for questions’.
7. By engaging in this method of customer information gathering, data is immediately available for the publisher to use within its own business.
Advances in technology mean data can be delivered back into the database immediately, so it’s readily available to enhance marketing and customer communication straight away. Data could assist with informed decision making, for example supporting the development of a new magazine or product launch with specific questions to potential readers within the existing audience. It could also aid subscription retention and acquisition through the ability to segment customers and target them with differing treatments and offers.
8. Increased insight on readers can also be a powerful draw for advertisers; the offer of improved demographic information, strong affinity partnerships can be built and general ad sales can be supported through more refined targeting.
With this, powerful asset readers can be better engaged by the publisher with content and offers tailored and targeted to each individual.
9. Publishers also have the opportunity to generate revenue by making the data available externally.
Underpinning any data sales must be the correct permissions from each individual; something that can be generated from the outset of the relationship by asking them their communication and channel preferences. The dynamic questions served can also be set up to make sure permission is at the top of the list in terms of questions being directed at readers, so all data is appended with this important attribute.
10. Once the correct permissions are available, data can be sold to relevant third parties as it is generated.
And I’ve already mentioned there is an opportunity for partners and advertisers to utilise the dynamic nature of serving questions even further, through the creation of tailored questions, designed to collect insight and opinions from readers which are unique and relevant to their own marketing efforts and activity.
Because of its unique nature bespoke data can be sold at a premium, thus creating another rich revenue stream for the publisher.
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