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12 March 2019 3 min read

Content in the Digital Age (part 2): Capturing value today and tomorrow

Chris Evans

Chris Evans
Consultant | Products and services | London

In the first blog of this two-part series, we discussed strategies for locating a real, captive audience as the first port of call for monetising content. Once content creators truly understand ‘who’ and ‘where’ their audience is, they find an endless array of options for ‘how’ to reach them. But what is the most effective? Even more concerning, could any of these distribution techniques damage a brand or leach value from content?

Finding immediate value today

After creating top content, brands need to think carefully about how they build revenue streams today, choosing from a foray of options such as subscriptions, transactional, partnerships, advertising, sponsorship, product placement, and affiliate marketing to name just a few. Programmatic advertising, a buzzword of the last few years, automates the media buying process, satisfying advertising demand with advertising supply - often with an automated bidding process, and by targeting specific demographics and behaviours.

However, with YouTube (as an example) taking 45% of ad revenue, content providers might think they are losing out on their share of the pie. Additionally, media producers have limited control over which (potentially divisive or offensive) adverts appear next to their content. For this reason, many have opted for carefully chosen partnerships, branded content initiatives or sponsorship deals. Others, such as The Guardian and Wikipedia, are flipping this model completely and asking for voluntary donations.

Social media superstars are consistently finding new revenue streams: directing followers to their e-commerce sites, being paid to ‘shoutout’ products, creating branded content and rallying support for charities. Elliot Tebele created an entire Media company, Jerry Studios, around the success of his viral Instagram account, now offering brand advisory, contributing to Netflix documentaries and building fame for the infamous Fyre festival. And we are just breaking the surface. When you have strong content, there are a lot of ways to monetise it.

Building a community around your content for tomorrow

Once you’ve conjured a captive audience and generated revenue streams, the ultimate content monetisation technique is to build a franchise around your story. We have seen many examples of this done successfully. Lady Gaga has an army of hard-core fans willing to pay a hefty premium on tickets to see her at Coachella or watch her Hollywood debut A Star is Born. Look at the numerous and consistently profitable Harry Potter spin-offs – a London Studio Tour, a West-End show and international theme parks - all of which stay true to the original books and maintain the high-quality production value of the film franchise. A whole secondary economy has been assembled around strong intellectual property with die-hard fans, eagerly awaiting the next instalment. And remember: this all started with an initial niche following around a children’s book.

If there's one lesson to take from all this, it is that there is no set formula to monetising content - but a strong product and sharp judgment will always be indispensable.