Social and Mobile Trends Influence Ancillary Media Revenues

While the display advertising market continues to provide publishers with a healthy revenue stream, savvy media organizations are mining consumer trends to help create new products for revenue growth and to engage readers.

From The Washington Post's foray into daily deals to the FT's innovative use of HTML5 to deliver an app-like experience while maintaining a direct revenue and relationship and with the consumer, media companies are finding more ways to increase revenues. Here are some compelling revenue-generating strategies publishers are finding success with today.


The smartphone and tablet revolution has provided publishers with the opportunity to reach consumers willing to pay for content through a variety of formats. A recent OPA study revealed that over 79% of app downloaders paid for mobile content in the last year.

Publications are rightly seizing upon this interest by spending significant money on R&D for immersive app experiences. Media apps can range from mobile extensions of a publication's site to food and dining guides to enhanced multimedia offerings. Hearst Communications recently launched CFG: Cosmo For Guys, its first app-only publication, a development that will become more prevalent.


HTLM5, a language for structuring and presenting content for the World Wide Web, provides a great opportunity for media companies to provide deeper online and mobile experiences to consumers. Denise Warren, SVP and chief advertising officer at The New York Times Media Group, told the audience at OMMA last week The New York Times is placing a "big bet" on HTML5.

It has allowed The New York Times to create mobile application-like experiences for its readers, while increasing their revenues and retaining customer data. In June 2011, the FTintroduced one of the publishing industry's first HTLM5-based mobile "apps". Recently, Google News and Amazon announced their own HTML5-enhanced sites, and I suspect more publications and organizations will follow suit.

Publications such as Sacramento Bee and Atlanta Journal Constitution have recognized the power of the deal sites like Groupon and Living Social to acquire new customers to offer discounts on subscriptions. But the deals movement also affords publications the opportunity to enhance their revenues by offering deals to their existing audiences. The Washington Post launched its own deal sites in March 2011. The Post unveiled The Capitol Deal, expanding and rebranding their already existing site on restaurant deals, to include all matter of local services.

Online Subscriptions:

Earlier online subscription adopters like Consumer Reports and The Wall Street Journal offer multi-platform products with diverse revenue structures, centering on the same key component: high-quality, affinity-based media that the consumer is willing to pay for.

The New York Times
unveiled a subscription model in early 2011 that allows for visitors to sample content before receiving a prompt to subscribe. It designed it with an eye towards the increasing ability of social media to drive traffic -- allowing access to those who find articles via Twitter or Facebook links. This enables the publication to use social media to cultivate new readership and protect traffic numbers, which advertisers still use as a metric for business decisions.

Soon after The New York Times announced that it had sold 281,000 digital subscriptions in only four months, Time  announced an online subscription for its print edition content. The subscription revenue structure is becoming a critical component in enabling online publishers to continue to thrive in the ever-changing digital marketplace.

The trend will no doubt continue as publications increase their use of Facebook's "social apps" capabilities. The Guardian and WSJ were among the media companies that unveiled new "social" apps, which will extend the reach of their content, both paid and free, on the largest social network in the world.

The New Yorker's annual festival marries the best and brightest of its staff with the leading lights of Hollywood, politics and culture. But, more importantly, it gives the magazine a chance to extend The New Yorker experience to its readers in a more dynamic way. Results from a recent UK survey of 200 specialist publishers found that nearly half (47%) already boast a live event portfolio with many more considering running live events in the next two years. Publications are increasingly identifying events as an opportunity to drive greater engagement with their audience, and, of course, increase non-publishing revenues. And, now, social media allows publications to extend events online to a larger audience.

Media companies looking to extend their revenues can take advantage of all of the above opportunities. From events to apps, the future is bright for those in the media that explore complementary channels for providing value to their readers.

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