Subscription Billing Blog

Digital payments and diversification for publishers: Adopting a new paid-for digital mind set and new digital models

Paid-for digital content offerings, products and services are now an important strategic priority for many publishers. While digital advertising revenue is still very much in the mix, publishers are exploring diversification strategies using multichannel models. The first blog in this four-part series on the findings from our research report, Digital Payments and Diversification: Where Next for European Publishers? published with consultancy MTM, looked at how digital content priorities and strategies must be re-evaluated. Here, we turn attention to the new digital models.

Transitioning to new digital models

Publishers need to do more than just sell content online. With “digital revenues still not measuring up to print losses” (in the words of a UK magazine publisher from our survey), many publishers in Europe have internalized the need for change and are now looking to new digital models. The transformation they are undergoing or need to undergo is extensive and involves refocusing from:

  • Display ads to branded content
  • Desktop to mobile
  • Destination sites to distributed content
  • Text to video and
  • Free to paid.

When paywalls succeed

Digital subscription models have proven successful for some, not least some news brands. The strategy of providing a proportion of free content to grow traffic while tempting site visitors with subscription-only premium content works for many publishers such as, in the UK, The Times and The Telegraph (see diagram below).

Payment models of leading national daily newspapers

Payment models of leading national daily newspapers

The success of this model depends strongly on:

  • High quality content with perceived high value that consumers are willing to pay for
  • Technology platforms to support and evolve with the strategy. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents cited technology as a key organizational challenge facing publishers developing paid-for offerings
  • Analytics tools and teams with analytics capabilities to get fully underneath user journeys and reader preferences
  • Digital expertise in content and marketing and teams with the skills to assess, understand and act on measured outcomes.

In addition, publishers are diversifying into a range of new paid-for digital products and services. These include gambling sites – as in the case of ‘Sun Bingo’ in the UK – and chargeable information services, such as those provided by consumer group ‘Which?’

Accumulating and monetizing data

As all marketers know, subscription and registration of any kind generates valuable customer data which, when used well, can lead to further opportunities to generate revenue and grow customer loyalty through targeted communications and marketing campaigns.

The real transformation is transforming to a new digital mind set

But the biggest transition is in mindset. It is not sufficient to just take print or print-like content and put it on the web. Publishers that wish to reinvent themselves as multichannel, multimedia businesses need to adopt a digital mindset. This means, for example, how to create dedicated digital content that effectively meets the needs and best practices of every medium – written or visual – and incorporating photos, short-form video, tweets, snaps, and posts enhanced with digital tools such as feedback surveys. This also requires a new generation of publishing skills that some legacy organizations may lack.

In our next blog we will consider the barriers and challenges faced by publishers pursuing paid-for digital content options. However, you don’t have to wait until then for more; you can read all about Digital Payments and Diversification: Where Next for European Publishers? or watch as I present the interim results at the FIPP Digital Innovator’s Summit in Berlin.

Finally, make sure to attend our live webinar on February 27, 2018 at 5:30 am PST (1:30 pm GMT) where I will be joined by Jon Watts, Founding Director, MTM London, as we discuss the full report.

About Author

Michael Isaacs

Michael Isaacs

Michael Isaacs is Director of Product Marketing at Vindicia. A veteran of Amdocs and former Amdocs portfolio evangelist for communications and entertainment, Michael is always running – either after customers, kids, or his marathon personal best.

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