Adding and Selling Digital Only Content

August 27, 2014

As publishers move beyond offering a strict replication of their print product in the digital realm (also known as “replica,”) some are asking about the best way to start creating more value for their digital content. One of the strongest ways to increase the caliber of the digital content – in addition to designing for the digital platform – is to offer digital-only content.
This strategy often works best for publishers seeking to achieve any of the following:

As a bonus, no matter what your reason for adding digital-friendly content to your publication, you’ll create a better experience for the reader.
To start, you’ll want to make sure the content you choose for your digital-only additions make sense: they’re in digital format, and they engage readers from the start. Stories best told in video format is a great example of digital only content. This means avoiding adding clips just for the sake of extra content, but instead focusing on posting about stories that are interesting to watch and are best told in the combination of audio and visual elements. It might also look like stories that are made more clear, engaging, or impactful with the addition of interactive content and animation. This is particularly true of difficult concepts that need to be interacted with to be understood, or particularly emotive pieces that benefit from music or powerful images.
Strategically, you should consider starting small. Ease your audience and advertisers into embracing the value of your digital content by proving to them what you’re going to deliver. Starting small also gives you time to test and monitor what kinds of digital content your audience responds to. This will help you be more effective in delivering what your audience is looking for, and subsequently, will increase your audience’s engagement with your content.
You can start small by including a video clip here and there, but a stronger method is to intentionally run one or two digital “specials.” These special editions should blatantly focus on a specific kind of content; ideally, that’s content that works better digitally so you can promote it more easily to readers and advertisers. This could look like an edition that pulls powerful statistics and quotes from previous editions and illustrates them with slideshows or animated graphics to drive home the point. Or it could be the video backstories of key persons interviewed for other issues in which readers showed high interest. As this would be a testing phase for you, try selling a limited number sponsorships or ads, allowing for high visibility for the advertiser. This will help you increase the rates to advertise, while also allowing you to deliver exclusivity and the potential for strong engagement time.
Using “special” editions to focus on adding powerful digital-only content can also serve to highlight content on other channels that might need a boost in circulation. You can even expect to look beyond reusing videos from your YouTube channel. If you have other forms of content, such as whitepapers or case studies or charts, this material can easily be pulled into a special edition. For instance, you could publish an annual digital-only catalog of your digital white papers, which would increase the value of your white papers by delivering them to your readers’ inboxes, rather than staying stagnant on your website for readers to seek and find. By doing this, you increase your whitepapers’ reach and value, allowing you to charge more for advertisers to sponsor them.
Developing the right strategy for your particular audience and content library will require taking a look at what content makes sense as digital-only value-add, as well as what your readers respond to. But by starting small, and testing regularly, you can offer your readers a better digital reading experience, and in turn your advertisers a better value.


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