3 ways publishers can overcome monetization barriers - Reuters News Agency

3 ways publishers can overcome monetization barriers

From ad-blockers to free content, let’s take a look at the ways publishers can adapt to persuade consumers to pay for news.

Oct 25, 2017

There is a wide disparity in consumer attitudes towards paying for news. Reuters Institute research found in the US, UK, Finland and Spain more than eight in ten (84%) have not paid for news in the last year.

Consumers can, however, be persuaded to pay if publishers identify the barriers adding to consumer reluctance and build on trends in the news environment that are working.

Let’s take a look at the key consumer barriers and what lessons can be learned to help publishers improve their content and monetization strategies…


The key barriers to paying for online news

In a qualitative study written by Kantar Media, researchers found two main reasons why those surveyed chose not to pay for news:

  1. The abundance and prevalence of free content poses a challenge for publishers looking to distinguish their value.
  2. Ad-blockers are on the rise. Usage of ad-blockers is much higher amongst under-35s and people who use news the most. The vast majority of those who have downloaded a blocker tend to be regular users and once downloaded, rarely go back.

Consumers who pay for news favour quality.

What lessons can be learned from these barriers? 

1. Quality is an important driver

Consumers who pay for news favour quality. Quality can include accuracy and impartiality of reporting, breadth and depth of coverage as well as expert analysis. Scarcity of premium adds value and inspires consumers to pay for content.

This was seen in the six months since the Trump presidential victory. The New York Times saw an increase in around 500,000 digital subscribers The Wall Street Journal added around 200,000 members. Much of this growth has come from those on the political left and the young.This highlighted the appeal of paying for accountable journalism.

The Telegraph have also shifted their focus to quality content and have seen a robust audience since implementing a tighter paywall.

We have not seen a decline since introducing premium content. As a consequence of adopting this strategy, our broader audience has remained robust.”

Chris Taylor, chief information officer, The Telegraph.

2. Evergreen content is valuable

The longevity of evergreen content suggests deeper analysis and value. That is why publishers, such as BuzzFeed, have been re-packaging archive content in innovative ways for years.

Swiss news publisher Le Temps, has implemented a slack bot to help editors in choosing what content to turn evergreen. The bot also alerts the optimal time for content to be re-published.


3. Consumers champion flexibility

The Kantar Media study found those surveyed favored a pay-per-use of a bundle of providers proposition. This option combines micropayments and aggregation.

Those surveyed voiced praise at having a wide range of sources. Publishers such as Blendleand Curio are tapping into this demand and are providing readers the a pick and mix range of premium content from various sources.

Want to find out more promising observations on consumer attitudes? Download the Attitudes to Paying for News report by Kantar Media.