Content Strategy: Content Revenue Models – Part I

In my definition of content strategy, I have emphasized that any successful content strategy should take revenue generation into consideration.

Generally, there’s two different categories of revenue models in content strategy: direct revenues and indirect ones. e.g. selling content is kind of direct revenue model, while making brand awareness to boost up future sales is an indirect revenue model.

But it’s very important to note that even in indirect revenue models there should be a clear logic and a detailed analysis behind. Every content strategist has to provide success measures and trace the contribution of every action in the final goal. Sure every action will be more similar to trial and error and guess game for the first time but soon it will turn into a predictable action plan.

Here we take a look into most popular content revenue models:

Direct Selling Revenue Model 

In this revenue model, the content provider sells the content to the audience directly. As Microsoft sells every single copy of windows or a singer sells his or her last album to the fans or a publisher sells the printed version or digital version of a book to the customers.

Subscription (Time Based Access) Revenue Model

In this revenue model, the content provider sells the access to the content within a particular time frame. Do not mix this model with the classic model of subscription used by journals and newspapers. The classic model of journal and newspaper subscription is just a type of bulk direct selling. Instead of purchasing one copy of a newspaper every day you pay the price for 30 copies and receive a quantity discount. In the content strategy with the term of subscription model, we mean selling access to the content without any specific promise about the content volume or the content growth rate.

Scribd is a good example of subscription revenue model. You pay a monthly or yearly fee and get access to a huge digital library. There’s no guarantee that tomorrow the new books will be added. There’s a content pool and you have the permission to dive in. that’s all!

Quantity Based Access Revenue Model

In this revenue model, there’s a collection of content but you purchase access to a limited subset of the content on your choice. Just take a look at the bundle options of Elsevier. There are thousands of articles and you can pay a specific amount of money to buy 10 or 20 or 50 articles. It may look like the bulk direct selling model. But as we will discuss in future, customer stickiness in much higher in QBA in comparison to the direct selling revenue model.

Selling Advertising Space

In this revenue model, content is free for the audience. Everyone has a free access to the content. The content provider tries to build the largest possible customer base. Then the revenue is generated by selling advertising space. As there’s no free lunch anywhere in this world we can say in this revenue model the advertiser pays the price of the content and buys the attention of the audience. Radio, television and newspapers are the most classic examples of this revenue model. But today the most popular examples are websites and digital applications.

Content revenue models are not limited to the above categories. In the next article, I’ve disscussed the other possible and popular revenue models.