Want to Charge for Digital Content?
5 Steps to a Successful Paid Content Offer
1. Clearly define your paid content strategy.
Even under the best circumstances, paid content will only be one of several revenue sources in the future. That's why publishers must determine the profit potential of paid content offers today, especially in comparison to advertising. This is the only way they will know how many readers they can afford to lose today, tomorrow and the day after due to conversion to a paid content model—which is not an easy task.
Publicly available research data sends encouraging signals (i.e., statistics), but these statements come off as overoptimistic and need to be put into context: If there is no "free" alternative for the equivalent content, many more users may pay for it than if the majority of news content is freely available. The comparison to online gaming seems to be a better fit. There, a mere 3 percent to 5 percent of users of "free-to-play" browser games pay for additional advantages in the game. The most logical approach from today's perspective would be to gradually expand the paid content areas. Yet how this works exactly and its impact on the advertising market must first be carefully examined.
2. Use value-oriented pricing as your basis.
One of the fundamental rules of pricing is that your customers will only pay for something if the value of what they gain is greater than what they are sacrificing. In other words, the value must be greater than the price. Facing an online content culture in which many offers are "on the house," paid content must provide readers with clear added value. This is not found in catchy headlines and news agency reports, but in outstanding content. Added value also can be generated through channel-specific preparation (printed newspaper, classic website, apps) and easy paying methods.