Newspapers monetization: learning from GigaOm practices


Last year, I worked in the newspaper industry as Manager of Sales Promotion for La Voix du Nord, a major regional newspaper in France. We all know that newspapers in their actual format are dying – they can not go in their present form! Media companies blame the Internet, especially Google. But is it really true that the Internet is killing the newspaper business?

Did radio kill the newspapers? Not at all. In fact, it spurred news consumption. Offering accessibility increases people’s hunger to consume news. The more our world grows, the more we want to know about it. But in the meantime, we need to know what is happening right here, right now. So for me, new technology isn’t the main issue.

I think that publishers have to change their approach to how they create content.  The industry’s primary business models are based on advertising. Advertising revenues are the key!

It is good that the industry has embraced the Internet, but they have kept the same approach i.e.:

  • Cover the news
  • Do not think about information packaging or the user experience
  • Keep focusing on (more and more) advertising

This is risky, very risky! One thing that I don’t like and most people don’t like, are pop-up ads all over the place when you read an article (User experience? Big fail). Also, no ugly paywalls are a definite put off.

Newspapers should cover the news, of course, but they also need to think about how information is packaged. Content packaging can increase circulation of the news; people do not spend much time when it comes to reading online news. Therefore, their visits should be practical and informative, and progressing through content discovery should be efficient if you want them to come back.

See, for example, how GigaOm has successfully created a mix of free and paid content. They drive traffic and awareness with their free content, yet try to engage a fraction of their users into a paid model (illustration)

Just as GigaOm has done, content creation, subscriptions and advertising should be implemented within a content monetization strategy. But that means that newspapers have to know what content can be monetized and make it clear to the readers what the benefits are! That’s added value! The main problem within big media companies is the fact that writers and business development teams are not connected. Nowadays a writer should know what kind of content needs producing and how much can be charged for it.

Whether newspapers choose paywalls, subscriptions, Google One Pass or Cleeng, their content monetization strategy should be integrated into the website editorial structure.

Here is an example of a Cleeng integration within an existing article. Part of the content is free and some value-added elements require payment. Most people will be satisfied with the free part, while others will be ready to pay to get the extra information.

Let me know what you think in the comments section or on twitter