Reimagining User Generated Revenue: Monetising Digital Content -- the Humane Way Publishers need to be flexible and understanding. At the end, how many subscriptions will a consumer buy? One or two. At best a couple more. But, the same user will not mind paying if the content is good, and if he is offered choice, ease of access and affordability
Let us start with simple facts. In twelve months, starting July 2020, online news consumption grew by 26% to 80.13 billion page views. Visits surged 24% during the same period to 26.10 billion.
During the pandemic, while publishers saw a speedy growth in content consumption, it also forced them to take a hard look at digital revenue, beyond digital advertising.
Enters, the paywall to build a new kind of revenue: user-generated revenue, mostly driven by subscription. Publishers rushed to put their content (exclusive and premium) behind the subscription paywall. Honestly, some of them made good progress, but most of them are still struggling to make pay-walling of content a successful way to generate money from hundreds of thousands of users.
Here is our logic, as to why, your user generated revenue funnel is not yielding results:
- The Rise of the Paywalls: In two years more than 35 news publishers in India have launched subscriptions, putting content behind paywalls. This has led to fragmentation of the paying users
- The half-hearted paywall: Fearing drop in traffic, publishers continue to distribute premium content for free on platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram, compromising the ‘premiumness’ of the content
- The Inhuman Paywall: While putting a subscription layer on top of the content, most publishers exclude a larger number of payers, who are willing to pay for one piece of content, but do not like to be forced to buy a long-term subscription
- The Choiceless Paywall: Many users like to consume content in single units, and they appreciate when given a choice to do that (instead of a bundled offer which has no flexibility)
But, the paywall can be more humane, more understanding, resonating with the buyer of content – exactly the way publishers want their content to resonate with their audience. Why should a paywall be different? Better and more user-generated-revenue (UGR) can be made if a little bit of thought is invested into implementing a paywall.
This brings us to:
What users want? What publishers can do?
Single-platform approach: Publishers could put in place a single payment mechanism that is versatile to support all UGR offerings – micropayments, passes, and subscriptions to address the need of the hour
Generate premium content: To maximize revenue, publishers should provide only generic and non-exclusive content for free and ensure that premium content is behind a dynamic and customisable paywall
Offer Easy Access: A universal login for easy access of premium content anywhere on internet. Users appreciate single access and are more inclined to pay for what they need and want, as long as they enjoy a seamless experience
Monetise every click: Publishers can make money from every click and visit on their websites and apps receive – or when users stumble upon their content on social media, search, referrals, through browsers. Micropayment unlocks a much larger paying user base
Personalise user journeys: Introducing gradual content gating strategies that provide users choice of paying once through a micro-payment or by purchasing an e-pass, whose validity could be for a day, week, fortnight, or month, will help expand loyalty base amongst users
Publishers need to be flexible and understanding. At the end, how many subscriptions will a consumer buy? One or two. At best a couple more. But, the same user will not mind paying if the content is good, and if he is offered choice, ease of access and affordability.