Print is not going anywhere! Publishers have had advertisements in their titles long enough to prove that ad profits mostly come from print. In today’s market, where ads are how publishers make their margins, print needs to be the focus. That said, making additional revenue by incorporating digital is key in today’s blended media market.
Digital content is versatile. First, digital allows publishers to create more editorial and imagery. Second, publishers can use digital to help drive subscriptions and distribution. Lastly, publishers can incorporate new types of content. However, most publishers are still skeptical about digital because their focus is print. Publishers feel they have to sacrifice time, energy, and money from print to make digital feasible.
So how can publishers feel more comfortable dedicating time, energy, and money into a digital strategy? The best way is to look at how other publishers are monetizing digital successfully. Each publisher may be unique, but trends and concepts cross over the entire market, and there are plenty of publishers marrying print and digital well. These 9 types of digital are tried and true examples of this.
A. Website Related “Digital”
1. Digital Editions
Digital editions provide instantaneous access to the printed content through mobile and electronic devices. For that ease of access, publishers can easily apply a premium or upsell existing subscriptions. Also, the final print file and the file for a digital edition can be identical. Publishers upload their file, add additional links, pages, or other added media, and a digital edition is ready in as fast as 5 minutes.
Great example: 805 Living
2. Paywalls and Web Gates
Not every publication uses a paid content or subscription model for their print titles. That does not mean the digital content has to follow that same model. Websites provide ease of access and the opportunity to include additional content. That ease and extra content extend beyond the traditional offerings of a print publication, so charging for that luxury is normal. A publisher could use digital subscriptions or micro-transactions to monetize accessing exactly what the reader wants.
Great example: Albuquerque the Magazine
Applications combine the best of a website and digital edition, and are customized for a mobile device. It offers the ideal delivery of all content by a publisher to their audience. Apps deliver all formats of content, ads, and notifications in a controlled and branded environment. Apps also deliver in a free, freemium (it is free for some features but paid for others), or paid (costs money to download or has a monthly subscription) capacity, based on the publisher’s choice.
Great example: National Geographic
B. Connection-Related “Digital”
4. Social Media
Originally designed for recreational connection online, social media platforms have become the largest hubs of online traffic. They are the place with the largest amount of content consumption in the world. That means publishers should be using social media. Distribution of content is the obvious use, linking to the website and original editorial. The other option is to actually sell ad space on social. Creating posts for advertisers is very similar to selling sponsored content. Another option is selling ads on social media ad networks. These ads are not limited to social media, but can extend across the internet to find the relevant audience. Also, since these ads do not show up as a post, a publisher’s editorial posting is not muddled by ads.
Great example: BUILD Magazine – Big Sky
Emails are still highly effective, and email platforms are easy to monetize and make profitable. Emails also are versatile (birthdays, holidays, events, special sales, etc.). If a publisher is doing subscriptions with email part of their required information, it is easy to build an initial mailing list. For monetization, it is easy to sell sponsorships of newsletters, put ads in a sidebar of an email, and use email to distribute offers and calls-to-action.
Great example: 5280 Magazine
C. Content-Related “Digital”
6. Video Content
As an alternative content format, video is one of the more-easily monetized forms of digital. Videos can supplement a print or web story. They can provide exclusive, additional content (upsold if done well). They can be used for education in the form of “how-to” videos. Also, they can be used as ads or promotional content. Publishers can even curate 3rd-party video related to their audience or stories, skipping the cost of making video content altogether.
Great example: Thrasher Magazine
Like video, podcasts are another type of content to leverage. On a podcast, everything is pre-recorded, giving publishers full editorial control. Podcasts are also streamable online or downloadable for offline consumption. They are affordable to produce, averaging $200 an episode. They are also easy to upsell to advertisers for two reasons. First, audio ads, like radio, get a lot of attention. Second, publishers can sell to an advertiser the option of being the podcast story; the publisher interviews the advertiser and lets them promote themselves.
Great example: Discover Magazine
8. Sponsored Content
Thought leaders, influencers, and other content generators are everywhere and seeking opportunities to be published. Externally-produced content can be tailored to any audience upon request. Also, publishers can sell sponsored content spaces for “advertorial” purposes. The sponsor would pay to have their promotional copy included amongst the editorial content. Publishers publish it for a profit.
9. Augmented Reality
Whoever said print itself does not have the power to be digital is wrong. Augmented reality provides the ability to turn any print publication into a multimedia powerhouse by overlaying other content formats (video, podcasts, imagery, etc.) over the print. It is invisible to the eye, but with a mobile device, all that additional content comes to life. The easiest way to monetize it is to sell it to an advertiser. Now the print ad can link to a website, direct straight to online products, or have virtual tours and examples. Publishers can also use it to provide additional content that could not fit in the print.
Great example: USA Today
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