Re-inventing media monetization!

An age old problem. The media world is changing and the entire publishing world is suffering. The subscriptions for traditional print media are going downhill and people are not willing to pay for online content. As a consequence of the difficult situation, the media has started making free online content less free. First by setting up paywalls for online content, and more recently by selling subscriptions to electronic publications which look exactly the same as the traditional print publication, with ads and all included. And of course limiting the free online content, “because it’s cannibalizing our business”.

It seems that none of that is working very well, but why? After all the information and news offering available today, people have so many possibilities when choosing where to get the content from and how to consume it. If you get the same content for free, why would you pay for it? Someone always offers most of the content free. At least if the content is casual, generic content, copied from some other source.

Solution stems from the basics

There are three different types of journalistic content categories that people consume:

News content. This is generic, short, available first and consumed only once. Typically served and consumed “everywhere” from screens in the public transport, to a feed on your mobile device. Content is being produced by news agencies and aggregated by major news outlets such as CNN, BBC, YLE, HS, Al-Jazeera and likes. Oh, and then it’s being “quoted” by thousands of others. Worth paying something if you get it fast, good, easy and everywhere.

Deep expert content. This is typically specific content for a certain topic. Some magazines such as Harward Business Review are doing a great job with in-depth content around their selected topics. Well worth paying for, right?

(Hyper)local content. Any content that is interesting to the local community. What happens in your own neighbourhood. Something that the rest of the world has no interest. Thousands of publications that support their own and unite people. Also worth paying to know what’s going on at home.

Choose your content category

In order to have good and wanted content, you need to be the best choice for the consumer in one of the categories. Or at least get to be shortlisted.

You should choose the positioning for the content. Are we going to be the leader in the news content, the best expert in a chosen topic or the chosen local publisher? It’s unlikely that anyone can be all three at the same time.

Rethink your primary channel

Once you are close to achieve the chosen content position, start thinking the best delivery method from the beginning. If your target readers have 80% penetration for mobile data, put priority in producing the best, fastest and most in-depth content there. If you can deliver the content for 90% of your community by printing them copies when they head out to their daily chores, make it happen. If you need to use two channels to reach most of your audience, put them both in equal priority position.

Do not plan or deliver any channels just because they are trendy or everyone does it. You have the best content and the most convenient channel. Why divide resources and focus to anything else?

For the same reason, if you have existing channels that really doesn’t reach your audience, start a quick exit plan for that channel. You can’t win with it.

Turn the earning structure upside down

Now, since you own the best content and channel, you have all the attributes to be number one on the shortlist.

#1 publisher can ask money from the consumers, since they are providing the best value to the customer. Put a premium price for your priority channel. There is a price fit, you probably need to do some research and testing to find out the right level.

No need to perform lock-in

Many subscription businesses are selling with all kinds of lock-in sales models. You don’t need to do that because you are the best. Be open, allow people to try something else. This will make the joining easy. If you are good enough but they leave, they will come back eventually. This will strengthen the leader position and make you even stronger.

Then you only need marketing

So, you are the best, most convenient, easiest to join and no-strings-atteched content publisher. Now you need customers.

This should be easy. Just make yourself known among your target audience by caring about them and sharing to them. Use your content creation skills to make yourself a topic for discussion.

And the rest is history…

Do you think I’m crazy? Do you know I’m wrong? That’s ok. Join the discussion in re-inventing the media monetization.

I love to be proven wrong. A challenge.

12 thoughts on “Re-inventing media monetization!

  1. Perhaps the media could make more money by begin less general and more lifestyle/tg driven via automated filters. In the age that enables endless customization of what you consume, money will only be made by the “filters”. Same news will be re-worded, repositioned or censored to cater your values/believes. Syndication and packaging has been the way without brands except in the space reserved for commercials. Perhaps the solution is a combination of your proposal. Maybe I’m ready to pay for quality content, that is relevant and current to my lifestyle. Perhaps in the end it will be the consumer brands that will own the media sphere and will spin and filter according to what they are maybe to read free good quality health related content you will have to buy Puma sneakers. Retailers are already forcing the media to adjust e.g. the Wallmart refusing to sell magazine with an image of aborted fetus or a gay priest on the cover because of their “all-american family values”. Maybe we are finally going to be free of media controlled by bald, overweight, journalism-educated, 40 something white males. And replaced with garden-variety marcom people 🙂

    1. Nice thinking, Tino! The content publisher may not be a traditional media house, even though they have certain advantages at the moment. It’s interesting how the brands are taking control since they have more agility compared to media houses. Not having a control to the distribution channel is making this all very different.

      Interesting to see how neutrality and objectivity will matter with the content. Is Rovio media audience credible to tell something about toys or movies?

        1. Tino 😉 Another good point in your original comment that I missed – the tough challenge of defining target groups with old ways. Let’s take another discussion about dismissing targeting the Kotler way….

          P.S. I’m not journalism-educated, so no harm done 😉

          1. This is finally getting interesting… these days profiling, segmenting, is getting so deeply personalised as the Big Data can enable tracking and analysis onto very personal behavioral level. If done right. But often when I say to people that “Segmentation is dead” I get this anger from marketing people about this and that. And I do believe into old AIDA model, I believe in Kotler’s principles… And to some (weak) extent I believe in basic segmentation too. But the main dilemma (in this all “modern marketing etc etc”) is, I guess, that pretty much everyone’s talking about it, but nobody’s really doing it. Let’s do it!!!

    1. Thanks Loek! I’ll find time for this too.

      There are so many very different active threads in various social media networks around this, I need to try to put them together and write at least one more blog post.

      Very interesting issue altogether, trying to solve one of the biggest problems for the last decade for media industry.

  2. I agree with most of the points, with minor additions. These days it’s not enough to have the best content and the best channels.. you have to first create authority in that category before you can claim that prized monetization. In most cases, that means committing to a big content blitz over several months before you reach that level. Doable though, and sometimes faster than that.

    What’s wrong with lock-in, though? If you really have that authority, we would you shy away from claiming the customer as yours?

    Of course, everything depends on the niche in question..

    1. Good point with the authority. I think authority comes through content and is being delivered by marketing content tidbits and word of mouth, maybe also community dialogue that must be enabled around the content somewhere. Anyways, authority is essential.

      With regards to lock-in, I believe that many companies in general get lazy in holding their true position (content, good product, superior customer service) and allow competition to be better. Lock-in is always a forced position to ensure mid-long term revenue. If you have true authority and you maintain it by improving the right way, you shouldn’t worry about loosing customers. And non-lock-in can be used as marketing & sales argument and strengthen the authority even further… 🙂

  3. A new way of thinking could be deciding to put a sum (eg 10 or 20 € monthly) on your bank’s net investment account – and then with one click to spend where you really see interesting ideas. Some of us prefer goods, some clubs, some apps.

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