• Publisher Strategies

4 New Revenue Streams For Publishers That Are A Must In 2023

Last updated on Mar 29, 2024

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4 New Revenue Streams For Publishers That Are A Must In 2023


News companies and media houses are more active than ever before. And, there’s no going back to a slower pace after this as your readers are only going to expect more. But in order to maintain this steady flow of quality journalism, you need steady ROI. 

Considering the ad fraud, misleading data, and the confusing cookie standards (analytics showing inflated audience data for 7 days’ life span of Apple’s third-party cookie) of the programmatic world at the moment, I dare not mention display and native here.

A #BackdontBlock campaign ran in a UK publication (Newsworks) appeared on an average of 40,524 different domains, only 19% of which were actually premium. The vast majority of the domains were other websites and the unregulated long-tail of the internet that left advertisers wondering for what was that ad spend really spent.

On January 1, 2020, Google announced the discontinuity of its third-party cookies to resolve the privacy concerns of cross-site tracking. While we’re not sure how adverse the situation will get or whether or not there will be another cross-tacking system replacing this, there will be implications.

Alright, let’s say we do see the dead-end here but what else if not programmatic? 

1. Direct Sales

We need to look for the best path forward that utilizes the first-party data from the on-site tracking for direct advertising. It’s actually better than the native and display advertising that at times end up placing spammy redirects on your website. 

Direct advertising gets you better ad revenue plus you get to own the campaign. Creatives, copies, placement, frequency, you make the calls. 

Take that first step: Create a media kit for your website. 

What’s that? A dedicated web page that presents specific information about advertising, press, or marketing opportunities at your publications. It can be as detailed as Guardian’s media kit or The Washington Post you can simply mention the content formats and channels your website would expose a brand to, like this.  

What next? Create your advertising rate card (a sample document) to list the prices charged for various inventories. You don’t necessarily need a fancy PDF like the one I just linked, you can also create a clean (easy to understand) spreadsheet and list the details there. 

You would also need a material specifications document (a sample document) that would talk about the terms and conditions of direct advertising at your Newsroom. 

Identify your target audience and your value proposition. Differentiate yourself from the competition. And most importantly, be persistent. Direct selling takes time but once the wheel starts spinning, it’s all gold.

Metrics to track while scaling - 

  • CPM - Cost per thousand impressions
  • CTR - Click Through Rate
  • RPM - Ad revenue per thousand impressions
  • Direct ads CPM vs Programmatic CPM
  • ROI - In-house ad network cost (monthly) vs direct ad revenue (monthly)

Tools to be used - 

  • Advertiser Research - SellerCrowd, AgencyCompile, WhatRunsWhere, etc
  • Publisher CRM for Sales (Outreach and reporting) - Zoho CRM, HubSpot CRM, Insightly

What can be covered - 

  • Hello Bar/Email/Tweet/Facebook Post Sponsorship
  • Overlay Ads
  • Webinar ads
  • Email Banners
  • Corner ads
  • Pre-roll video ads

2. Subscriptions and Memberships -

With most global citizens vaccinated by the summer of 2022, the year of free COVID content access will, at last, come to an end. Newsrooms that have invested in nurturing the readers in the last 12 months have a really good chance at retention. The internet for a publisher is flooding with juicy subscription stats right now. It works. But what about the left ones, what can they do? 


Connect with the people you serve the right way - pre/post/during COVID - doesn’t matter. Your content is consuming a lot to get consumed by a reader - identify the value it deserves. Paywalls and logins are only going to become more prevalent once this pandemic ends. So start right now.

You might witness a sharp audience decline once the focus is shifted to a premium audience but that’s the risk you’d have to take if you’re in it for a longer run. 

Also, in case you feel that the community doesn’t require the high standards of answers that your content is putting out there, find the community you’re answering the questions for.

Metrics to track while scaling - 

  • Subscriber acquisition rate
  • Subscriber churn rate
  • Out of your entire community base, how many people attended the XYZ virtual event. 
  • How often does this community engage with us usually?

Tools to be used - 

  • Paywalls - LaterPay, Piano
  • Newsletter subscriptions - MailChimp, iZooto

What can be covered - 

  • Category subscriptions → Corporate subscriptions, student subscriptions, COVID update membership.
  • Trial subscriptions → Freemium and metered subscriptions.
  • Hard Paywalls
  • Subscriptions for non-news sections → Games, cooking, opinions, etc
  • Visitor surveys → audiences’ data that can be sold to DMPs/used in key decisions. 
  • Subscriptions from a different platform → Affiliates and paid partners.
  • Newsletter/news subscriptions → emails/push notifications permissions to access content 

3. Podcast Monetization -

The total US podcast market revenue reached $708.1 million in the year 2019 having ‘News’ as the leading genre for advertisers, as per a report published by IAB in 2020. The same report shows that the industry expects podcast advertising to grow by 15% (14.7%) this year (which was earlier estimated to grow by around 29.6% in 2020).

Close to one billion dollars and we’ve only referred to advertising yet. Podcast monetization can truly turn the tables for quality journalism. Almost 80% of Indians tuned into their radios last year. Even in the UK, radio news has been on the rise ever since the pandemic hit the country, making publishers hopeful of finally witnessing the days of audio storytelling coming back to life.  

Think your newsroom might give it a shot? Share these stats with them - According to AdvertiseCast, the industry average rates (CPM) for podcast advertising are $18 for a 30-second ad and $25 for a 60 seconds ad. 

Metrics to track while scaling -

While there’s no sure way to find out if a podcast will be a success, here are the metrics you can track once it starts gaining traction among your listeners -

  • Downloads per episode
  • Traffic redirected
  • Exclusive promo code copied/used
  • Listener engagement post ad (drop-offs vs retained listeners)

Tools to be used - 

  • Recording - Zencaster, Zoom
  • Publishing - Google Podcasts, Podnova, iTunes, 
  • Advertising - AdvertiseCast, Midroll, Radiotail

What can be covered - 

  • Audience Donations
  • Podcast sponsorship - Sponsoring your own podcast or placing some else’s ad.
  • Paid memberships → Sell only the premium episodes or implement a hard paywall
  • Syndicate your show on YouTube
  • Branded content → Sell products related to the podcast topic 

4. Ecommerce for Publishers -

Let’s start by looking at the evolution of eCommerce in publishing -

From Problem/Solution (content) → Browser → Brand (Product) + Trust. It has moved to Problem/Solution (content) + Trust → Product  

Yep, ‘Has Moved’ -

→ According to Digiday, Hearst (a US publication) developed 4 ecommerce products in recent years. 

→ Along with affiliate successes (BuzzFeed content drove more than $425 million in attributable transactions in 2019- Jonah Peretti - CEO BuzzFeed), BuzzFeed also owns various lifestyle brands including Nifty, Goodful, As/Is, and Tasty that drives a lot of ecommerce revenue for the media company. 

→ The Seattle Times sells wall art (plaques, posters, and canvas wraps).

There are plenty of examples that place ecommerce under a successful (rising) revenue trend for publishers. 

I get that eCommerce is not an easy feat to achieve. Building → nurturing → retaining a digital audience requires patience, time (and $$s). 

But on the flip side, once retained, this audience can shift the paradigm of online buying. Buying from an ecommerce store vs from a brand that you cherish and trust (that you know have cherry-picked that option for your precise needs) goes a long way.  

Metrics to track while scaling -

  • Conversion rate
  • Audience churn via ecommerce
  • Product feedbacks (must)
  • Acquisition cost (in case of a new visitor)
  • The average order value of a visitor
  • Cart abandonment rate
  • Net Promoter Score 

Tools to be used - 

  • eCommerce platforms - StackCommerce, Shopify
  • Affiliate link management - Pretty links WordPress plugin

What can be covered - 

  • Build and sell - Selling owned products
  • Affiliate advertising - Selling sponsored products 
  • Branded content - Products (recommended) covered as an integral part of a topic.  
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Neha Tanwer
Neha Tanwer
Neha is a Product Marketer @iZooto who works with a single focus of helping publishers grow faster and better. Coming from the lap of Himalayas, she is a theatre artist, who loves dropping gears to travel the mountains. When not in office, she can be found roaming in the streets of Delhi finding next good cafeteria to eat at.

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