It's exciting times for the media and publishing sector as it undergoes a wave of digital transformation. The industry is looking for newer ways to engage customers and good subscription management is a huge centrepiece of this change. But how should media and publishing companies approach digital transformation? Shashank Venkat offers some food for thought...
The media and publishing industry finds itself in a state of flux. Typically characterised as an industry slow to embrace change, media moguls across the world are highly nervous due to declining revenue numbers, innovative new competitors and the changing landscape of global content consumption. In the quest for finding a viable self-sustaining business model, many publishers have experimented with paywalls
but with mixed results. Only a few publishing houses such as The New York Times and The Financial Times have really been able to enjoy some sort of success with paywalls for their businesses. However, many have tried and even revoked their paywalls after conflicting ideas about the model.
Enter Digital Transformation
Although paywalls seemed like a good stop gap measure to stem the decline of revenues, the time has now come for media outlets to take a giant leap towards digital transformation. Digital transformation is essentially a positive sum game, which brings benefits for both publishers and their subscribers. And while paywalls are autocratic and limit the readers accessing your content, digital transformation is democratic and expands the reach of your content.
Bear in mind that the next battle for readers' mindshare will essentially be fought in the digital space in areas such as data, display advertising, mobile and e-commerce. With digital transformation, businesses can develop more efficient means of revenue generation across these channels, and successful media companies will be able to generate newer revenue streams by developing more value-intensive products for their subscribers.
These new product and service offerings will be vastly different from their predecessors. After advertising, subscriptions are the primary revenue generator for most media companies. However, even today, subscriptions are seen in their most basic nature and are just used to deliver ad-free content or access to premium services. In the future, maybe businesses can offer variants such as niche subscriptions where users are paying a smaller fee to access specific parts of their content, for example.
Federated paywalls are another area which may see lots of activity. This is essentially a strategic paywall with content from multiple publishers behind it. Through data analytics and profiling, businesses will be able to match the users more tightly with the content and explore newer revenue generation opportunities. Micropayment options for usage-based services and pay-as-you-go models will also become extremely popular in the future. Newspaper and magazine publishers can also offer one-off purchases for some of their more exclusive content.
In return, subscribers will also demand a great amount of flexibility from the publishers. They will expect a seamless buying and account management experience including purchasing one-off resources, choosing different add-ons, renewing subscriptions or toggling between various subscription options and product purchases. Moreover, even business customers will come to expect a seamless self-service approach for their commercial advertising management purposes.
Publishers also need to keep in mind that consumer habits and competitive markets are in a constant state of evolution. In order to succeed, it is important to revisit, review and refine their models on an ongoing basis. The competitive landscape also makes it very difficult to garner customer loyalty, so by continually launching new products and special offers, you can always keep the buzz going about your business and stay one step ahead of the competition.
The right magazine subscription management software
To begin the digital transformation process, media and publishing houses need to perform an audit of their existing systems and processes. Often, it's not a lack of new ideas but it’s the legacy systems that hold businesses back. These systems were great when print ads were ruling the roost, but you need more flexible monetisation platforms for today's times. A big piece of this digital transformation is having access to a good subscription management platform
. These are incredibly nimble, robust platforms capable of offering flexible pricing and packaging for your products and services.
Now, there have been several reasons driving the need for good systems for publishers. First of all, businesses are grappling with a high volume and velocity of data. This data is extremely important for delivering personalised services to customers and understanding other operational aspects of the business. Moreover, with technological advancements and publishers diversifying their services, it becomes imperative to have systems which can handle complex information with ease on the inside, while delivering a seamless, immersive experience for users on the outside. This helps publishers to easily deal with the constantly evolving content consumption and advertising dynamics. With these systems in place, you can make quick and inexpensive modifications to your services and/or packages, resulting in more agile business processes.
If the media and publishing industry is to thrive in the digital era, it will have to explore newer monetisation strategies aided by technology. It is hard to predict what the winning business models of the future will be, so the endeavour should be to build a strong foundation to help your business sail through any scenario. The message is loud and clear - embrace digital transformation and future-proof your business!
(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)