Every crisis has one thing in common and that is an innate ability to glue people to news websites. News companies like The NY Times gave the publishing world some serious traffic goals last year as it saw a 49% increase in traffic in March when compared to Jan 2020.
Now although more eyeballs on a website makes way for more content, it nowhere promises more $$s. Exactly what we saw in this recent pandemic.
While the giants like The NYTimes and The Washington Post dodged the COVID heat by using their subscription card, the local newsrooms kept flirting with death though they were fully aware of how bad the demand had fallen. Joshua Benton, director at Neiman Journalism Lab, had predicted 2020 to be the worst year for local newsrooms. Wish we could say he was wrong.
Print revenue that was declining already hit its lowest last year. Digital too didn’t do any better. There were newsrooms like LNP (LancasterOnline) in the United States that took initiatives to boost subscriptions even during the pandemic and succeeded. But most publishers chose to lay back and see what new surprises the pandemic is yet to bring while making all their resources accessible for free.
But it was a pandemic. We had to deal with it together. So all said and done, that’s not how businesses plan to greet the post covid era. There’s a need to push the wheel again and that’s exactly what we’re about to cover next. For both the small and large scale news businesses, here’s a list of revenue streams that most newsrooms are relying on as they walk out of COVID -
Advertising lies at the heart of news publishing and there’s no denying that. Work on your ad placement, optimize the ad size, and do not ignore ad fatigue. Mind that the number of ads you’re placing is a key driver of your session duration.
The demand is slowly recovering and it’s time to get your mobile, tablet, website, social media to include display and native banners.
- Also, you’ve got embedded YouTube videos, right? Put an ad on it - pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll.
- About time you start using a text to voice converter to add the audio just above your stories and mention the sponsors there.
- This one might be too much but you can consider placing an ad on the takeovers on the homepage/category page, etc - Check out The Wight.
You’re doing a great job at engaging your niche audience. Consider monetizing it now. Become an affiliate and start selling products that you’d like to recommend.
There’s a general perception that affiliates aren’t fit for the editorials and I totally agree. They sure make your content look biased to your readers. Also, putting an affiliate link outside the content (like a banner ad) wouldn’t retrieve as much affiliate juice to a publisher. How to go about it then? If it resonated with you, consider building a separate domain like The NY Times owned wirecutter.com - one of the world’s largest affiliate review sites.
Paywalls are here. Independent (UK), Boston Globe, and even The Print (India) that have long struggled to convince its audience to pay for its quality journalism has finally taken a leap of faith. Freemium or Metered, Hard or soft - Paywalls are all set to welcome news consumers in the most flexible of ways. But it takes time and energy. It requires the team to be consistent at striking the balance between their membership fee and the availability of similar journalism in the market for free.
- Monthly content subscriptions like the OTT platforms or one where readers get to access content without ads or limited ads. Corporate subscriptions. Check out - WSJ, MIT Technology Review
- Membership access to the non-news products including the likes of Gaming, Cooking tutorials, etc.
- You could also put up your subscriptions on third-party sites like The Seattle Times does with Groupon.
Get back to the low-tech roots and go heavy on your newsletter. Building a loyal audience list is inarguably the most crucial asset a news website can own. If you have achieved that already, placing an ad on it might not be your smartest move. But there still are plenty of options you can choose from -
- Memberships like Bloomberg and The Ken (India).
- Add sponsored posts to your newsletter. You can automate the process with RSS feeds so that the newsletter updates the sponsored content at the ad space on its own.
- Audience donations. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
- Add affiliate links.
These were the monetization models that have been around for quite sometime now. We have put together a similar list for the new revenue trends that have started finding their way into news monetization. You should definitely check them out, here.