Digital Product Development for news and media: How to monetize your content?

by Sreejith Partha

The news, media, and entertainment industry is part of a significant digital product development evolution that is constantly shape-shifting. It’s only logical that industries adapt and thrive on this digital wave, and one of the best ways to do that is to monetize content. Media moguls such as Netflix, Spotify, and TikTok have established themselves over the years, and consumers have gotten used to paying a premium due to the brand recognition and quality of content that they consistently deliver. But what about an individual or companies that are new to monetizing content, and want to get the best bang for their buck?

Let’s dive into this topic together and explore strategic ways to monetize your content!  

Content Monetization: First the Basics!

Digital Product Development

If you are consistent and persistent despite a few initial hurdles, your content marketing efforts on the digital product development platform can successfully bring in money. However, in order to do this well, you will need to have a clear understanding of your target audience, the digital product development you plan to use, and your brand value. Then there’s the strategic thinking around finding synergy between these and the money. The three most common monetization methods are: 

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Premium content
  • Memberships 
  • Ads

Affiliate Marketing: This is one of the most commonly used approaches to monetize content. Nearly 83% of brands utilize affiliate marketing to grow their revenue streams. This is a commission-based content monetization structure wherein you showcase the products and services of any other company, and you get a cut when a sale is made. There’s a long list of products and services that companies can collaborate on and monetize their content.

Premium Content: In this approach, a portion of your content is available for free but the premium content is only accessible for members who pay for it. A brand has to tread a fine line between free and paid subscribers wherein even the non-paying members are enticed enough to be converted into paying customers. Some highly resourceful examples of premium content are in-depth analysis, detailed reports, high-quality journalism, exclusive interviews, coveted video content, etc. 

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Memberships: Memberships are yet another intuitive approach to monetizing content. Here the users have to pay to become a member in order to access news or media. Many solopreneurs and brands use this approach by creating online communities, masterclasses, and coaching groups. For example, if your media brand is built towards interviewing thought leaders across the globe, it’ll be critical to build a community that eventually pays for your top-notch content. 

Ads: Advertising is an age-old tried and tested approach for monetizing content. It is one of the most common strategies that enables a brand to use a platform and reach the target audience. In this strategy, you need to reserve space within your existing content for advertisements from other companies. Your revenue streams can progressively grow as and when the ads are viewed, clicked, or lead to action. There are various formats that can be used such as display, video, sponsored content, and more. While you expose valuable exposure to partner brands, you also get an opportunity to effectively monetize your content. 

As per the Pew Research Center, 86% of Americans consume news through digital devices, a testament to the surge in digital media consumption (Pew Research Center, 2021).

Understand the Current State of Media Monetization Challenges

With numerous platforms vying for user attention, the current media landscape is fragmented. Adding to the woes is dwindling revenue from traditional print advertising media. So when looking at digital revenue streams, companies also need to understand user behaviors, comply with data privacy laws, and sift through misinformation. 

A Magna Global Research Report for 2023 had a forecast for 2023 wherein it was predicted that media owners’ revenue will reach $833 Billion in 2023, a 5% growth vs. 2022 ($795bn), but a closer look reveals that the revenue goals have come down compared to 2021 and years before that. 

Innovative Pricing Models for Digital Media Products Development

Monetizing content efficiently remains a challenge in this rapidly evolving industry. Media houses need to be innovative with their pricing models. A combination of a user-centric approach and advanced technology can help them come up with efficient strategies to monetize content. Let us take a look at some of the ways to do so:

Paywalls: The Fortresses of Exclusive Content

  • Paywalls: Restricting access to content behind a payment barrier. The New York Times implemented this strategy successfully, garnering over 7.5 million digital-only subscriptions in 2020 (Statista, 2020). In order to win, companies need to create appealing content that can captivate the user’s attention. This strategy is the most effective one for media houses with loyal and engaged users.

This pricing model offers different variations, including:

  • Hard Paywalls: Offering minimal to no free content, insisting users subscribe to access any material.
  • Soft Paywalls (Metered Paywalls): Allowing users access to a limited number of articles for free before asking them to subscribe.

By offering high-quality content — such as in-depth analyses, exclusive interviews, and detailed reports — media houses can entice a loyal customer base willing to pay for the exclusive access.

AVOD and SVOD: The Battle of Free vs. Subscription

Ad-Based Video On Demand (AVOD) and Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) are two models pivoting on video content.

  • AVOD: This model offers content for free but accompanies it with advertisements. The revenue is generated through these ads. Platforms like YouTube successfully utilize this model, hosting a myriad of content while generating revenue through ads.
  • SVOD: This involves charging users a subscription fee for accessing content without ads. Platforms such as Netflix and Hulu have seen a tremendous rise, with Netflix accounting for a revenue of over 25 billion USD in 2020 (Statista, 2020).

Advertisements: The Evergreen Revenue Generator

Advertisements continue to be a robust revenue stream, with the digital sphere offering enhanced strategies such as:

  • Google DFP (DoubleClick for Publishers) is a comprehensive hosted ad-serving platform that streamlines your ad management for websites, mobile webpages, and mobile applications. It offers a variety of tools to manage the process of dynamically allocating ad space to different advertisers.
  • Native Ads: These are advertisements that match the look, feel, and function of the media format in which they appear. They blend seamlessly with the platform, offering a non-intrusive ad experience. According to a report by Sharethrough and IPG Media Lab, consumers looked at native ads 53% more frequently than display ads (Sharethrough, 2016).

Content Recommendation Platforms: The Guiding Light to Relevant Content

Content recommendation platforms like Taboola and Outbrain play a crucial role in driving traffic and monetizing content through sponsored links. These platforms operate by:

  • Promoting Content: They promote your content on high-traffic websites, increasing visibility and audience engagement.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Using algorithms, they offer personalized content recommendations to users, enhancing user experience and increasing the likelihood of engagement

Developing a Personalized Experience for Your Audience

Personalization stands central to enhancing user engagement. Implementing tailored advertisements based on user behavior and preferences can significantly boost revenue streams. Platforms like Netflix have mastered this by utilizing Big Data to offer personalized recommendations, resulting in increased user engagement.

Leveraging Social Media and Influencer Marketing

Social media and influencer marketing have emerged as potent tools for monetization. Collaborating with influencers can enhance brand visibility and drive traffic. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, businesses make $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2023).

The Importance of Mobile and App Development

Mobile and app development hold paramount significance in capturing a wider audience. Features like push notifications can keep users engaged, while native ads integrated seamlessly can enhance user experience without being intrusive.

A study by the Reuters Institute highlighted that over 73% of users access news through mobile devices, emphasizing the growing importance of mobile platforms in the news ecosystem (Reuters Institute, 2020).

Monetizing Podcasts and other Audio Content

Podcasts have emerged as a lucrative avenue for monetization, with Statista projecting the U.S. podcasting industry to reach $2 billion in advertising revenue by 2023 (Statista, 2022). Leveraging unique audio content to cater to niche audiences can be a successful monetization strategy.

Leveraging Data Analytics to Drive Revenue Growth

Data analytics can power growth by offering insights into user behavior, enabling the creation of personalized content and advertising strategies. According to a Dresner Advisory Services report, 53% of companies are leveraging big data analytics (Forbes, 2021).

Case Studies in Monetization: Insights from The New York Times and Netflix

Discover how industry giants like The New York Times (NYT) and Netflix have mastered monetization of their news and media content. These case studies showcase their successful strategies.

The New York Times

Evolved from a print-centric to a subscriber-focused model. By harnessing data analytics, they personalized content and significantly increased their subscriber base.

Netflix

Expertly employed data analytics to gauge user preferences, leading to the creation of hit series such as “House of Cards,” tailored to viewer interests.”

News, Media, and Entertainment: Finding the Right Partner

Product Development

News, Media, and entertainment industries need to stay ahead of the technology and innovation curve – it’s non-negotiable to survive in this competitive market. So whether you are a traditional media outlet planning to monetize your content or a budding startup trying to break into the industry, keep these pointers in mind when finding the right partner. 

Define Your Goals: Define your objective about what you want to achieve from this partnership. What are the avenues that make sense for you or your organization right now to monetize content? Defining your goals will help you identify a partner that aligns with your objectives. 

Experience Does Wonders: With a crowded space for the news, media, and entertainment industry an experienced and reliable partner who has a great track record in the industry can be a great help for you. In order to ascertain whether the partner is right for you, you can look for case studies and references that showcase their expertise in achieving content monetization goals and avenues similar to yours. A partner with relevant experience can provide insights and solutions tailored to the unique nuisance of your sector. 

The Budget Balance: Developing digital solutions and content monetization strategies can be a costly affair at times, so it’s essential to find a partner whose pricing aligns with your budget. Consider the long-term cost, such as updates, maintenance, and resources. A transparent discussion about the budget, and value creation from it should help in deciding. 

Compatibility and Communication: These qualities go beyond expertise because a successful partnership thrives on effective communication and a shared understanding of your objectives. Collaborate and work with a team that values open and transparent communication. A good team provides regular feedback, and timely updates, and is transparent. 

Conclusion

Navigating digital product development and monetization requires deep knowledge of the latest trends and technologies alongside a solid technology foundation. Organizations looking to monetize content need to leverage innovative pricing models, personalize user experience, and utilize advanced data analytics in order to pave a successful digital product development journey in the news and media sector. 

Practical Logix: Solving Real World Problems!

Our goal at Practical Logix is to solve problems that matter. We keep the user experience as a central theme when building software. Our team examines how the software we’re building solves the problems our users face. Our relevant experience in digital product development and a great reputation in the global market give us an edge when solving real-world problems in content monetization for news and media companies. 

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