Click on a story from The Guardian website and you will be served with a crowdfunding message inviting you to make a contribution.
“Unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – our journalism remains accessible to all, so more people have access to accurate information with integrity at its heart,” it says.
More power to them. Of course, crowdfunding isn’t their only source of money. Publishers at a lower level of the chain have few options for financing quality content.
“In the traditional model, news organizations would pay money to a staff to curate content and aggregate their audience from search and social,” says Jeff Kupietsky, the CEO of PowerInbox. “The readers were happy, and there was enough financial incentive to make it work.”
No longer. “The model is under tremendous pressure,” he adds. “there’s too heavy a reliance on sources of traffic, social and search as sources of traffic, and they’re not finding alternatives.”
Why aren’t those sources working? Because we are quickly moving toward a cookie-less universe.
One problem with cookies is that they don’t establish the reader’s identity — not the way email newsletters do.
“A subscriber to an e-letter, unlike a reader on website, is no longer anonymous to the publisher,” Kupietzky says. And when identity has been established, content can be tailored to fit the interests of the reader.
As for paywalls, “the exceptions prove the role,” Kupietzky says. “They work for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, but the bulk of the publisher community is not able to convince end users to pay them to offset the cost of their curation.”
So how do they subsidize the effort?
Kupietzky contends that publishers can monetize their email newsletters with advertising. Of course, that’s what his firm specializes in — it’s an ad-tech platform that connects newsletter publishers and advertisers.
Such revenue can serve as “an incremental revenue source on top of existing revenue sources,” he says. Or it can be their exclusive source. Research shows that readers are comfortable with the tradeoff — having ads served along with content.
Kupietzky previously shared with Email Insider the results of a survey done by his firm showing that readers trust email newsletters more than they do social media.
And of 1,000 consumers polled, 58% say trust in the publisher is more important than the content in getting them to open the newsletter.
We always knew it.