Add value through the editorial process
The prevailing wisdom is that publishers are under threat from free content online. However, the sheer quantity of unvetted, unreliable content in the digital realm is actually driving discerning readers to seek out reliable sources and quality content. Publishers that add value through robust journalist effort and editorial activities create a product that people are willing to pay for.
At the end of Q4 2020, The New York Times announced its digital revenue had overtaken print. ‘The last 10 years were about proving our strategy of journalism worth paying for. The next 10 will be about scaling that idea’ said their President and Chief Executive Officer, Meredith Kopit Levien in their accompanying press release.
The opportunity for publishers is to create and use brand equity to cut through this noise. By having a strong value proposition - such as journalistic integrity, editorial rigor, or a strong message - publishers can find, engage and monetize audiences that feel aligned to their brand.
Craig Llewelyn-Williams, principal consultant at The App Lab and digital product development expert concurs. ‘The volume of content out there has a diminishing return - as content multiplies, people seek out the quality sources they crave and trust. The sector needs to communicate the fact that not all content is created equally. There’s free-and-trusted (like The BBC), branded-and-trusted (like Which?), and then there’s everything else - content where the quality, accuracy, and potential bias are unknown.’
Publishers need to communicate the value that they add whenever they seek to convert readers to subscribers. For example, if you offer metered access, a reader’s final free article is a great opportunity to remind them how much they have used, enjoyed, and valued your content.