How will digital publishers pay their way?

The shift from traditional print media to digital has been documented and debated for years. While some welcome the change in direction, others see it as a travesty and a blow for the publishing industry.
There’s no doubt that the abundance of free content online has hurt print media. Readers are becoming accustomed to receiving content straight to their smartphones, eReaders, tablets and desktops. It leaves the future of publishing a little unclear.
While the landscape has no doubt changed, there is a future for publishers if they’re willing and open to new ideas. Both digital and traditional publishers have established other revenue streams by monetising online content. While there are many challenges to face, there’s also a chance to grasp new opportunities.
Here’s a look at the future of monetising digital content.
Also read: How digital publishers are combating ad blockers


There’s no denying the fact that readers and viewers are spoilt for choice. There are hundreds of free digital publications, blogs and news feeds itching to grab their attention. All of this free and exciting content can leave people reluctant to pay for it.
In a recent poll, 88% of participants admitted they don’t pay for content. That’s a big percentage to compete with, but it’s doable using creativity and innovation.
Technology can play a part in how well received a publisher’s digital content is. While native digital publications are on top of technological innovations, traditional publishing can sometimes fall short. Dated technology often means websites aren’t well optimised for mobile and sites aren’t as user-friendly. This can leave audiences moving away to find sites that are reliable and easy to navigate.
Another challenge is social media. Facebook has become direct competition for a lot of publishers due to their article-uploading features and massive audience reach.




This is a prime time for traditional publishers to re-energise their output and build on their existing reputations. Understanding the culture of consuming content through digital devices aids the discovery of different ways to monetise platforms.
Established publishers have the advantage of experience and reputation. They can now create paying membership or subscription services to build on this history. It’s not enough to expect readers to pay for news they can find elsewhere; publishers should offer additional bonuses, such as tools, incentives, and extras that can’t be found anywhere else.
Also read: (Book Business Magazine) How to manage the digital development process


Polls suggest that younger generations are far more accepting of advertising instead of paying for subscriptions. The internet is an advertising haven, due to the data that is being recorded at every level. People are more accustomed to seeing ads as a standard feature of their web experience.
This gives publishers a great opportunity for monetisation by working with advertising agencies and directly with brands. The content can remain free, but the surrounding advertising acts as a revenue stream.
As social media becomes more focused on image and video, this gives publishers another opportunity to use advertising space. Capturing audience attention can be tough, but video packages are an excellent way to pull people in. It’s also a format that advertisers are comfortable and familiar with, making it more attractive for them.

Cloud technology

While traditional publishers may find it a challenging and lengthy process updating their technology and software, cloud technology has made it easier. The cloud gives them the opportunity to make changes faster. Instant reaction to readers’ likes and dislikes means publishers can keep their content relevant and stay on top of trends.

Facebook distribution

The big players such as the BBC, The New York Times and The Guardian have already signed up to distribute through Facebook channels. There’s no denying the impact Facebook has in the world of trends, news and sharing. Getting on board with Facebook helps publishers to connect with readers, their friends, and family. Publishers who lag behind run the risk of a decline in readership.
Facebook is the epicentre for connection and catching up with the latest in international and local news. It’s a one-stop shop for many to keep up to date with friends, but also to stay updated with what’s happening in the world.
All publishers are unique and what works for one may not work for others. It’s important to establish which elements of monetising content are worth developing by staying in tune with audience opinion and developments in technology.
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