Revenue diversification for publishing and media

Media brands need to develop more revenue streams as online display advertising declines – we all know this, but the challenge is working out new business models above and beyond simply charging subscriptions for content.  At the recent 20/20 Publishing conference, several media businesses shared how they have developed new products and services for different segments of their audience.  Here’s more on how they have done it:


1.     New ad models


Dennis’ B2B titles (including ITpro and ChannelPro) now deliver 39% of commercial revenues through demand generation, according to Paul Franklin, group publisher.  To achieve this growth, they have invested in a content editor, and put significant effort into optimising their analytics, SEO and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) to ensure that they create content that will appeal to the target job titles and make it easy for them to provide their details and download.  Commercial deals are now mostly on a cost per lead basis, but good content has a long lifecycle.


Sift, who publish content for the accountancy community, have developed several new commercial products that build on the reach and strength of their community.  They run a comprehensive survey of accounting software, based on 10k respondents rating the products they use.  Sift have also created an “Insight Exchange” with over 60 subscribing clients, who are permitted to publish their content direct to the community.  The Sift team monitor analytics closely and advise clients on what types of content to publish to obtain best results, providing templates for white papers and infographics.  Sift also run a product video showcase, where the accounting community submit questions which clients then answer in a short video.


2.     Enterprise packages


Business to business publishers are increasingly moving from selling individual subscriptions to creating more tailored packages for large enterprises. Robin Crumby, the founder of Melcrum, which serves the Internal Comms community worldwide, explained the journey they made from a business which was product-focussed to one which was client-focussed.  They decided to concentrate on their few hundred best customers and developed packages of condensed content and personalised advice that helped them in their work.  These included best practice insights, practical guides, strategic tools, training programmes and access to a professional network.  Melcrum went from having thousands of subscribers at $500 each to having a few hundred members at $30-50k each. 


3.     Data and intelligence products


Intelligence and data products, sold at a premium subscription rate to a small number of corporate customers, are the holy grail for many B2B publishers, generating good cashflow, high renewal rates, global scale and a predictable lifetime value.  The key step in identifying a new opportunity is in-depth research, understanding what pain points exist for customers and the information gaps that you could fill.  If you can deliver business value for the buyers, then they will pay over £10k pa for your service.  Examples include Marklines, providing automotive production data to 3000 subscribers at £8.5k, and FeedInfo (from Agribriefing) which tracks agricultural feed prices.  Influencer Intelligence from Centaur helps brands and agencies identify which celebrities and influencers they should approach to endorse their products.  And Windpower Intelligence tracks plans to build new windfarms, essential information for suppliers and services.


4.     Live events


Most B2B publishers run live events, maybe just awards and conferences but Ed Tranter, former MD of MA Exhibitions, thinks they should be more ambitious, and launch large scale exhibitions that lever their brand and community reach.  Research is the key to a successful launch: for the Engineering Design Show, Ed and his team talked to 450 design engineers to really understand why they didn’t attend other events and what they wanted. 


To help a launch succeed, the most important sell is the internal sell: if you are the champion you have to make sure your sales and marketing team understand the benefits of the event to customers and are as enthusiastic as you are.  Events have to evolve every year – get the exhibitors excited about what’s happening next year before you do the rebook. 


A show has to live all year round – if you do this well it will contribute more revenue and kudos to the parent publication. For the Engineering Design show, 190 of the 250 exhibitors weren’t already print advertisers, so they helped expand the overall business.


If you are interested in diversifying your revenues for your media business, just get in touch to talk further about the options available to you, and what can be learnt from other publishers’ experiences.


Interested in reading more about subscriptions?  This article summarised my presentation at 20/20 publishing.


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