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Diversified revenues in 5 simple steps

Note-taking skills let you down at the AOP Forum? (Or just too busy tweeting?)

Here are the 5 main points, which should set you on your way to publisher nirvana - a truly diversified digital business.

AOP Forum PanelThe Forum Panel: (Left to Right) Tim Gentry, Tom Whitwell, Tom Wright & Benedicte Autret

1. Make apps that maximise mobile - using GPS, camera & microphone

Benedicte Autret: publishers should profit more from Google’s product development cycle.

For instance - the Google APIs you can leverage on top of an app – imagine what you might be able to build on top of this real time translation functionality. (Forward to 18 mins into the video)

Smart phones are driving super-connectivity (iPhone/Android = 24% of market, 70% of use of mobile web), and the cloud is making vast resources applicable to a single task.
“Personally, I can’t wait for the time when my Ocado app syncs with my fridge and cupboard.”
However, a note of caution from Dominic Collins: “As soon as you see a bandwagon, it’s gone.” Also, from Tom Whitwell: “If your site is free, how are you going to charge for an app?” (More on this later…)

2. Gating certain types of content results in rich data

Tom Wright: ‘The lessons learned in b2b apply to B2C too.'

Incisive Media Tech PortfolioTom Wright / Incisive Media's Business Tech PortfolioThe purchasing decision process starts with the web, not going direct to sales people. With this in mind, is a vertical search engine which aggregates high quality IT-related reports which decision-makers can download in return for imparting information on their company.

Wright explained how his clients are changing the way they advertise, increasingly towards a cost per response model (ie Google AdWords), not CPM (really ‘just shifting the print model online’). The model works on a CPA or cost per lead basis, closely aligning itself with the Google model.

Other, high traffic, low data sites funnel traffic ITHound's way, the ‘jewel in the crown’ here being contextual links, not a million miles away from a certain search giant's...

This approach has transformed editorial into a profit centre, with clients even commissioning extra content, then promoting Incisive’s brands to customers on their behalf.

This process has made content creation the biggest growth area for revenues in Incisive’s Technology Group – quite an achievement.

3. Get real paid

Saying that celeb/weird/homogenised breaking coverage are leading the commodification of news, Tom Whitwell drew the parallel between this race for eyeballs and Demand Media’s SEO-led approach to editorial.

Whitwell highlighted the following areas in the Times' move to paid:

  • In developing its new site, it asked: ‘how to make readers happy’, not 'how to drive readers to click through 100s of page views’.
  • A paid community allows a publisher to build direct relationships between readers (under their real names) and journalists – again, a huge volume of comments ‘doesn’t equal a discussion’
  • Going paid requires an absolute commitment to customer service, he warned
  • Developing ways of acquiring new readers, e.g. – subs introducing new subs, will be crucial to the paid Times’ long-term success
  • Speaking about advertisers’ view on publishers going paid, you can obviously no longer compete in terms of scale, but, on the other hand, you are no longer dealing with ‘drive-by traffic’, but rather real people that you know - an engaged community

Returning to Whitwell’s earlier point - If you have a free site, how can you charge for apps?

Tim Gentry responded that GNM's iPhone app was not charging for content, but UX

4. Go open – launch an ad network via API

Alternatively, go the other way: open your content to the web (and mobile devices), and reap the benefits of partnerships, wider influence and developer innovation.

This is the strategy, Tim Gentry explained, which GNM is implementing with its Open Platform.

If you believe the web ‘is fundamentally a place for sharing, and view readers (not to mention outside developers) as ‘participators’ in content’, this may be the route for you.
‘Drive engagement on our digital properties by bringing in data and apps from the Internet’Open In
For examples of the Guardian’s approach, see its Enjoy England brand partnership , or content partnerships like football aggregator GoalRun and What could I cook.
‘Increase our reach by distributing our content, ads and more across the Internet’Open Out

5. Go face to face

Surely an under-exploited area (at least in b2c circles) is user clubs and their accompanying events.

Both the Times and the Guardian are making strides in this area, the former giving the examples of the Times CEO Summit, and Spelling Bee, the latter (via Extra) happenings such as its Family Day in October, which is already sold out.

Members can download speaker presentations from the event.

Listen to's podcast: The Times, Guardian, Incisive and Google at AOP diversifying revenues forum

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