Outside-the-Box Revenue Generators
If the publishing industry has any advantage in these tough economic times, it’s that the imperative to discover new revenue streams far predates the current crisis. Publishing’s woes are not analogous to a bursting bubble so much as a deflating balloon—with the hissing sound of advertising steadily moving from print to online.
“I like to talk about it in terms of analog dollars and digital dimes,” says Jeff Reinhardt, a former industry consultant with Berkery Noyes Media and Marketing & Information Services Group, and former executive at Primedia Business. “A lot of the Web stuff, unfortunately, is underpriced given the value of what’s being delivered. The marketplace has way undervalued it. We’ve gotten rid of 10 analog [print] dollars and replaced them with 10 digital dimes. In my opinion, no matter how much you sell, you will not catch back up to where you need to be.”
Meaning there is genuine market pressure to diversify—and publishers have responded, especially as the need to find innovative revenue streams has become more acute. Recent innovations might be classed into two types: those dealing with the repurposing of content in innovative ways (such as rich media), and those that embrace the idea that publishers have assets to leverage beyond core media products (for instance, marketing and IT know-how or deep contacts and knowledge within certain industries).
The latter trend reflects the realities of the current economic climate, Reinhardt says, citing data from Forrester Research that shows that the majority of marketing money in the business-to-business space in 2008 was spent internally—on companies’ own Web sites and promotional venues. “If that is where they are spending their money, then I [as a publisher] should be helping them do that,” Reinhardt says. “If they are buying more lead-[generation], then offer lead-gen. If they are doing more events, then who better to partner with than a media company?