Some best practices for charging for digital content

Over the years, news outlets have experimented with a variety of models for online paid content. There’s no secret recipe, but here are some examples of the best practices for paid content, based on research by the Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association, presented by Digital Director Geir Engen during the World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | June 3, 2013

Based on 40 case studies, the research identified several key clusters and models to help news organisations decide how to effectively charge for digital content:

  • Innovative launch of the paid for content value proposition: make this transition smooth and keep the barriers as low as possible, both for access and payment. Keep things simple and tell your readers why this is happening.
  • Increase availability on all platforms: Don’t focus on a single device. This is particularly true in Norway, where more than a third of readers access news through several types of devices. VG has capitalised on this, as they lead usage on all platforms including tablets, mobiles and online, enabling them to package digital revenues.
  • Innovative bundling of products: make your subscription package attractive to subscribers. In addition to offering its regular paid content, Canal Digital’s subscription includes access to an online music streaming service.
  • Metered model: best known for its adoption by The New York Times, consider a metered model before adopting a flat-fee model. Design several subscription packages to fit various interests and loyalty levels.
  • Make paid subscribers your priority: give subscribers their money’s worth, and make sure they are rewarded for their loyalty.
  • Offer exclusive content: in line with the previous point, create content that specifically caters to your subscribers.

“We believe we have to establish a rather big revenue stream from users’ digital payments,” said Engen.

“You have to focus on added value or more exclusive content on digital platforms,” he said. “Make content available anytime, anywhere, and on any device.”

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