March 11, 2010
I’m back from the FIPP Digital Innovators Summit last week in Berlin, Germany where a variety of international publishers presented their strategies for monetizing digital content. If there’s one thing that was clear from the conference, it’s that there’s a lot of confusion on what a “digital strategy” means.
Many publishers only use their Web site as part of their digital strategy. Of this group, some companies are using the Web to drive traffic to additional monetized services (i.e paid job listing boards for newspapers; wedding mag TheKnot.com has an entire strategy around wedding services). Some other publishers are using a premium paid content model (The Economist). Still others are trying to monetize via iPhone apps (or expecting to monetize via iPad apps). None are placing their bets on increased CPM rates from ads.
The challenge in monetizing digital content lies in the fact that content has become a commodity. Given the confusion over monetization at the Digital Innovators Summit though, it was clear to me that publishers don’t just need another monetization model. Fundamentally, we need to increase the value around content by transforming it into a content experience. It is this content experience that provides differentiation and allows publishers to monetize more effectively.
What is a content experience? One way could be an application like we’ve produced with WIRED magazine that allows increased reader engagement and interactivity with both content and ads. Instead of passively sifting through articles online, readers navigate through the magazine in innovative ways, interact with photo slideshows/video snippets, and engage with advertising content (like through 360 degree object rotation). These interactive features, combined with the tablet form-factor, allow publishers to reach readers in new ways and provide a differentiated option that creates value. Instead of just another monetization model, we need to think about what readers actually want from the content they consume. Increasingly, readers will want a connection with their content in new and innovative ways – a content experience.