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Diversifying revenue streams – essential for publishers today

Digital Media Strategies – Insight from Fiare

Hot topics at this year’s DMS Europe event ranged from the art of storytelling, publishers implementing in-house studios to create their own video content, leveraging effective brand partnerships and so very much more. Overall, there was an overriding sense of optimism for the industry – stemming from the presentations and interviews with inspiring people, representing companies who are doing creative and ground-breaking things. Content is key, targeted at the right audience, at the right time and tracked in the right way.

The debate on print continues to rumble on too. It is either perilously close to death, or a world of opportunity, depending on who you speak to. Opportunistic ‘pop-up’ journalism can work, such as in the case of the New European, if you have a clearly defined audience (the longevity of that product as a print offering remains to be seen, however). One viewpoint which was unanimously held by speakers and moderators alike, is that publishers cannot rest on their laurels with traditional business models. No longer can they solely rely on a singular revenue stream - if they wish to survive in a rapidly shifting media landscape.

This theme surfaced throughout the three days of the conference, but was explored in depth during a discussion session titled: ‘Diversifying Revenue Streams & Moving Away from Over-Reliance on Advertising’. Moderated by Penmaen Media’s Carolyn Morgan, the panel was made up by Nick Blunden - CCO of The Business of Fashion, Paul Lomax – CTO of Dennis Publishing and Duncan Chater, CRO of Hearst Magazines UK. All three insisted that publishers and media brands should take the plunge and seek ways of adapting and evolving from traditional business models, so long as brand integrity is not compromised.

Chater spoke of how Hearst are constantly exploring new and innovative ways to engage and interact with their audiences. This includes a diverse range of events – which he mentions as being key for brand recognition: “We’re starting to reach a lot of readers who don’t even realise Cosmopolitan is a magazine. Their first experience of the brand is through the platforms and our events. And that’s fine.”

Lomax shed light onto the eCommerce properties of the business which include, Classic & Performance Car and Land Rover Addict. Fundamentally, diversifying revenue must align with the core values of the business. Dennis’ expertise and market-leading content production in the motoring sector made these ventures logical both for the business and its stakeholders. He was keen to emphasise that adding a marketplace or shoppable dimension to a digital property should only be done if it makes sense to the brand and its audience. Blunden stressed that diversifying revenue streams doesn’t mean that they all need to scale in the same way. Each income generator plays a role within the overall portfolio of assets. Each contributes to the overall proposition which, if executed correctly, should help the business connect with its audience and foster stronger relationships.

At Fiare we understand that executing eCommerce properly is challenging. The ‘iceberg effect’ was aptly applied to both events and eCommerce during the talk – people only see the tip above water but don’t realise the hazards and scale of the processes which are beneath the surface. This is where we come in for publishers. We manage these processes using our experience and expertise as marketplace specialists. Armed with a platform developed with sophisticated functionalities, we have a product that works. Further, it has been applied in a range of niche and mainstream markets across the globe. This has given us a comprehensive understanding of how a marketplace can enhance a vast range of businesses and enable them to unlock the value of content and audience.

At the close of the session, Morgan asked the panel what their piece of top advice would be to fellow media companies looking to explore new ways of driving revenue. Lomax suggested that there were plenty of small opportunities out there, but to take the leap of faith and pursue one big one – just as Dennis had done regarding eCommerce. Chater echoed this for his guidance: “Be brave, go for the big opportunity.” We can’t say that we disagree.