With the explosion of online news sources and the decreasing popularity of traditional news magazines, the revenue models of American newspapers have been altered forever. Fewer people are buying the printed version of local papers, preferring to get their news online instead. More recently, the rise of social media has led to even more changes in the way Americans get their news.
Digital Subscriptions Are the New Norm
When people think of subscribing to a newspaper, they typically think about getting the printed version delivered to their home. However, the industry has changed drastically in the digital era, with more and more newspapers exploring the lucrative world of digital subscriptions.
Launching a digital subscription is a viable option for any paper, as many people prefer to read online content instead of printed material. Besides, not all subscribers want the printed version either; some prefer to read the articles online as they become available. The appeal of a digital subscription is that it is a flexible option that can be tailored to the individual preferences of each subscriber. When a paper decides to go digital, they can retain some of their existing customers while attracting a new audience.
The advent of digital subscriptions has led to more innovative revenue models for newspapers. Some papers, such as the New York Times, have even created a paywall around their content, making it available to anyone who has paid for a digital subscription.
A Paywall Is Just a Wall
While paywalls aren’t new to the journalism industry, their use has increased in recent years. Rather than hiding their content behind a free wall, newspapers and magazines are now adopting a similar strategy, creating a paywall around certain content rather than the entire publication. A paywall is simply a type of content wall, designed to restrict access to certain articles or features. The great thing about paywalls is that they allow content to be displayed according to user needs; if someone has paid for access to certain content, that content is made available to them, otherwise it remains concealed.
The Boston Globe is one of the first newspapers to adopt a paywall strategy, limiting access to their content to users who have paid for a digital subscription. The Wall Street Journal also has a paywall around certain content rather than the entire publication, as does the New York Times, which is behind a paywall for the majority of its content.
Paywalls Offer Protection From Readers Who Aren’t Quite Certain They Want To Pay
While paywalls can be a useful tool to restrict access to content, they aren’t always as effective as one might hope. If someone wants to read the content behind a paywall but isn’t sure if they want to pay for it, they may continue to search for free alternatives, resulting in lost revenue for the content creator. Even if someone does end up paying for access to the content, the barrier of a paywall can still discourage some potential subscribers who might have otherwise been enticed by the intriguing content behind the wall.
In addition to lost revenue, publishers run the risk of alienating current subscribers by putting up a paywall. If a paper decides to put up a paywall to prevent unauthorized use of content, they could potentially lose some of their most valuable customers. However, once the paywall goes up, it can be difficult to remove, meaning that the paper may have alienated a portion of its audience as a result.
New Methods Of Revenues Generation
Even if a paper decides to stay within the confines of traditional subscription revenues, exploring new methods of generating revenue is essential. The advent of the internet has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for publications, allowing for the growth of new ways to generate revenue.
Many newspapers are migrating to digital platforms and exploring ways to make money online. Launching a blog is a viable option, as bloggers can use their content to promote products and services that may be relevant to their readers. If someone happens to find value in what you have to say, they may choose to subscribe to your blog or support you financially through a donation, making it possible for you to continue promoting valuable content. Alternatively, newspapers can sell and display ads, which provide revenue without having to create content first.
The list of potential sources of revenue is endless. If a paper discovers a lucrative niche, they can use that to establish themselves as a viable business, potentially providing jobs for journalists and other staff.
Fewer People In Media
While traditional news organizations are still around and are very much a part of the media landscape, fewer and fewer people are getting their news from these sources these days. More and more people prefer to get their news from a variety of different sources, including local papers, national newspapers, and the internet. Local papers used to be the go-to source for people seeking information about their community, but with so much content hidden behind a paywall, people are turning to the internet for their news.
While the traditional 9-5 job still exists in some form, media companies are adjusting to the changing times, laying off staff while exploring new ways to make money. If you’re looking for a steady job in the media industry, now may not be the best time to seek employment.
New Audience Baskets Aren’t Binary
The way people get their news has changed, and so has the way papers are trying to attract new and existing audiences. While earlier print publications tried to draw in as many eyeballs as possible by offering all the content for free, today’s papers are trying to segment their audience into different groups and offer them a tailored experience based on their interests. This strategy is called personalization and has become quite popular in recent years.
To try and appeal to as many people as possible, early papers would have a variety of content ranging from breaking news to entertainment stories to sports to politics. While the content might be interesting to someone, it was often quite overwhelming, with little subtlety in terms of appeal. Now, with audiences segmented into different interest groups, entertainment and lifestyle stories may draw in a completely different audience than a breaking news story, creating a more refined experience for readers. This type of strategy requires a paper to have a keen understanding of their audience, anticipating their interests and motivations.
The Future Of Revenue Generation
With the vast majority of news outlets exploring new ways to make money online, the industry is in the throes of a complete transformation. While the methods and approaches used by papers today might seem unfamiliar to readers trained in traditional journalism, in the next few years, everything about newspapers will change.
According to HubSpot Blogs’ Future of Revenue Growth report, 66% of executives in the media industry plan to increase their revenue from existing sources by utilizing new platforms and technologies for content distribution. The great thing about these new approaches is that they provide viable alternatives for newspapers and other content creators who want to explore new ways to make money.
Traditional approaches to generating revenue, such as print subscriptions and banner adverts, will no doubt still be around for some time, but papers need to keep evolving to stay ahead of the game.