What market today isn't being kept on its toes by the unrelenting pace of digital innovation? That said, some industries are proving to adapt better than others to the demands of our new digital landscape. With a heritage steeped in print, the publishing industry is often viewed as a sector that is struggling to come to terms with the meteoric pace of change.
Media companies used to enjoy a simple value proposition; with their two valuable assets – unique content and a loyal audience – they made money by delivering quality content to those audiences. But this neat equation is being disrupted by a changing digital landscape marked by increasing complexity and cost. This ever-changing transmedia landscape provides unprecedented opportunities to expand reach, and grow audience, but it also creates the need to spend more money on reaching the same people in new places.
I took part in a panel session last month on "How to Monetise Online Video" at the Publishing Expo in London, where a lot of the discussion centred on how the digital revolution has been the changing way we're consuming content, and how the publishing industry can adapt, yet still generate revenue. The growth of the Web, and the unprecedented rise in mobile technology, has meant that publishers have to contend with an audience demanding content where and when it's convenient for them. What's more, video – one of the most transformative media segments today – is dominating online. It's revolutionising the way we interact with brands and content. Appetite for mobile video in particular is huge; the audience for video viewing on mobile grew 262 percent last year alone.
Today's transmedia world means there's big money to be made in video advertising, and the opportunity is growing consistently. There is no doubt that the B2C market "gets" the video monetisation opportunity, but publishers are undoubtedly lagging behind when it comes to acting on it, and many simply don't understand the size of the revenue opportunity in the digital space.
The money has moved to a different place, so it is vital that publishers act with more urgency, and get their digital monetisation strategy off-the-ground. There are a number of areas to be considered when laying the groundwork for a successful monetisation strategy:
- Devices: Where will you put content and how will you reach users across a sea of fragmented devices?
- Conversion: How can you increase traffic, engagement and conversion with rich media?
- Social: How can you leverage social media and video sharing sites?
- Insight: How will you get information about content performance across every destination? Real-time analytics are key to evaluating what works and demonstrating to your advertisers/sponsors that you have an audience demanding video
- Scale: How can you scale your current DIY infrastructure and keep up with the rate of innovation? Is your strategy making business sense?
Ultimately, you know your audience better than anyone – you know what they are interested in and what they are reading about. It's important to maintain the quality of the viewer experience and also to tailor your monetisation strategy to your audience – for example, it doesn't make sense to put a thirty-second pre-roll in front of a thirty-second video, because your viewer isn't being rewarded with sufficient content to merit that kind of demand on their attention for advertising. Likewise, it doesn't make sense to simply rule out pre-roll as a means of monetisation; skippable ad functionality is proving to be highly effective. Users who have not skipped the ad at the soonest opportunity are proven to be highly engaged with that content.
As the Financial Times editor Lionel Barber put it, news is now no longer the stuff of newspapers; it's the "job of the Web." And just as the function of newspapers has been changing, so is the role of the Web, with more and more focus on the likes of video and mobile meaning that online publications are gradually transforming into thriving video destinations. The key is to take that valuable asset – the unique content – and recognise that the audience consuming that content can be maintained and grown via multi-platform delivery and monetisation.