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Publishers can be "more creative and have bigger ideas" than the competition

Publishers can be “more creative and have bigger ideas” than the competition, said News International Head of Digital Commercial Jim Mullen, in a bravado speech delivered at AOP’s forum on diversifying revenue on 29 January. Despite having previously worked in advertising for 14 years, he said he had never seen anything matching the creativity of his editorial team at News International.

“Archipelagoes, not single islands”

Media owners are not the only companies looking at diversifying revenue in the present economic climate, we learned at the event:

Chairing the forum, Gary Cole, Online Sales Director, ITV, and Chairman of AOP's Commercial Committee described how digital agency AKQA is now developing ‘service ecologies’ (i.e. – a range of diverse new, ‘non-core’ revenue streams) for its clients, which include Apple, Nokia and Nike.

In an indication of how brands can adapt dramatically over time, Cole reminded the audience that in the 1920s, mobile giant Nokia was still selling rubber.

Quoting eMarketer CEO Geoff Ramsey’s speech at the AOP Summit last October, (members can watch the full video here) Cole said publishers should look to be developing into ‘archipelagoes of islands’ instead of sticking to their ‘single islands’.

For eCommerce, context is key

With this in mind, Telegraph Digital Director Brian Harrison outlined how his title is innovating around transactional affiliate links (as covered by PaidContent:UK). He stressed that getting the context of these right for TMG's readers is key, and is also calling for a new approach to commercial/editorial collaboration.

Such seismic changes in approach are “mandatory, not optional” in the present economic climate, he said.

Summarising, Harrison added: “The how is what will make [diversification successful], the what is easy.”

Diversification in action

The audience then heard two very different, but practical case studies of publishers who had also successfully diversified their business models:

Jason Biffin, E-Commerce Director at Trader Media Group outlined how has grown to include a range of services relevant and useful to its army of online readers, and chiming with Harrison’s earlier points, said: “it’s only at a time like now you really see the benefits of going beyond core revenues”. Along the way, of course, “sacred cows had to give way.”

CBS Interactive’s Sales Director Parbinder Dhariwal also outlined the innovative online-only publisher’s approach to diversifying revenue: harnessing the wealth of data behind CBS’ range of successful video game websites, GameSpot Trax has evolved to become an invaluable subscription-based resource to all levels of the computer game industry.

CBS is also looking to offer similar live insight services over a range of industries covered by its portfolio of niche sites.

“Identify your microsegment”

In summary, Jim Mullen urged the audience to “identify the microsegments of e-commerce that fit into your brand value…it’s all about the consumer”.

Last, but definitely not least, “editorial must buy into it”, as they have in spades for Sun Bingo, and its lasting success in a ruthlessly competitive area of gaming speaks volumes about that commitment.

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