Solving the mystery of monetisation

by PETER DRAGAR, EDITION DIGITAL

January 2016

There is no single sure-fire way of making your publication pay. But there are plenty of options if you want to monetise your digital content. Your choices depend on the available budget, the target group and, last but not least, the popularity of the publisher’s brand.

The most obvious option is to sell content through applications on app stores such as the Apple Appstore, Google Play and Amazon. This makes a lot of sense for established publications, whose readers are ready to seek them out amongst a mass of available apps. The same is true for niche publications with a strong and loyal group of readers. But don’t forget that you will have to share a large part of the sales revenue with Apple, Google or Amazon. Apple’s fee stands at 30% of any sold copy or subscription fee, while Google keeps 40%. It’s also important to keep tabs on your subscribers’ data. But if you sell through the Apple Store, the buyers’ database is owned by Apple and not the publisher.

For new publications, however, it probably makes more sense to create your own sales channel and sell content through your own branded newsstands. The advantage of these newsstands is that the publisher keeps all the proceeds. For smaller publishers with a single publication, the best and cheapest solution is to employ a single-title newsstand, which allows you to sell individual publications as well as subscriptions.

Larger publishers can employ a branded multi-title newsstand, which allows you to sell several different publications. A multi-title newsstand also allows for the sales of bundles, which can include various individual publications or even combine different subscriptions.

In principle, the optimal solution is the combination of a self-branded newsstand and sales through applications on popular app stores, to make your publication available wherever your users are looking.

An average reader accesses digital content via at least three various devices. During working hours, the main method is a desktop computer, free time is dominated by tablets, and most people never part from their smart phones so a multiplatform approach can cover all the bases. It’s also vital to make switching between content as easy as possible. An integrated approach serves as an ideal solution, allowing readers to access the magazine they bought at an app store via their desktops, mobile devices and tablets.

Whichever sales strategy you decide upon, never forget the promotion of your digital content and publications. Email marketing, push notifications and social networks are critical for the success of a digital publication. But if it also exists in printed form, make sure to carry out promotions in paper copies as well.

Create a true digital publication, don’t just do a PDF replica. Enrich your content, create galleries and add videos. Once you’re ready to go live, take your time to correctly publish all the required artwork and fields for each store. All these fields represent search quality and good SEO bonuses. Finally, set a price and go live. The majority of mistakes happen when publishers stop promoting an online magazine after going live. Having a good online magazine is not enough. You have to promote it on every possible channel. Furthermore, don’t forget to analyse your stats. If your traffic flow is not fluid enough, you’re doing something wrong. To complete a newsstand lifecycle: create, publish, promote, analyse.

This article was first published in THE_EDITION, a print and digital magazine exploring the vast opportunities in digital publishing.