Twelve Approaches to Cash in on Your Digital Assets

After Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character uttered those immortal words, “Show me the money!” in “Jerry Maguire,” he went on to land a multimillion-dollar contract. More important, in real life the film grossed over $274 million worldwide and Gooding won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance. They were all shown the money.

When it comes to monetizing your digital assets, we all wish it were so easy as to utter the phrase “Show me the money.” Therefore the next C for thriving in the digital age that we’ll discuss is “commerce.”

Publishers and media companies of all shapes and sizes are creating, testing, and searching for new ways to be shown the money. As we all know, there’s no magical Jerry Maguire who has all the answers in today’s constantly evolving and dynamic marketplace.

One essential step toward successfully monetizing your digital assets is to establish a multipronged monetization model (MPMM).

To establish and successfully create an MPMM, you must understand what the different prongs, or revenue streams, are. Then to determine the best prongs to implement and how to approach them, you must evaluate many things, including your assets and their worth to your audience, your audience’s value to your advertisers, your ability to leverage and contextually repurpose content, your technology capabilities, the quality of your partners/vendors, and your organizational resources. Then you need to develop a execution plan and ensure your sales and marketing, product development, and technology infrastructures are in place to innovate and execute.

The components of an MPMM have various options and nuances within each. Whether you’re big or small; B2C (define) or B2B (define); global, national, regional, or local, here are some approaches you can consider (we’ll drill down on some specific ones in upcoming columns):

  • Advertising and sponsorships:

    • There are a variety of advertising approaches to consider, including display advertising, PPC (define), your own ad network, third-party ad networks, ad auctions, and the intelligent use of house ads.

    • Deliver ads and line up sponsorships for a variety of online products, including Web sites, microsites, interactive services, e-newsletters, contests, Webcasts, video series, white papers, reports, games, virtual events, mobile, and RSS feeds.
    • Transform in-person events into 24 x 7 relationships for all stakeholders that enable the creation of more online ad opportunities.
  • Paid articles:
    • Offer premium content that must be paid for via subscription (annual, monthly, etc.) or micropayments.

    • Offer archives that require paid access.
    • Create online and print combinations where you get access to both.
  • Subscription-based databases and search tools:
    • Customers will pay to access data and tools because these are often hard to get and can save a lot of time and money in research and analysis.

    • Online searchable directories with compelling data and well-designed search interface often have pay-for access. Consider offering some free teaser data.
  • Content licensing: License your assets, such as articles, charts, and photos, to third-party aggregators and content partners.
  • E-commerce store:
    • You can establish an online store to sell both digital and physical products. These could include your publication’s back or special issues, event tickets, CD-ROM products that have yet to be converted to online, hats featuring your logo, and other assorted goodies.

    • Make sure to cross-sell and up-sell, just as an online retailer does.
  • Classifieds: Offer a deep classifieds section targeted to your audience.
  • Revenue-sharing deals:
    • Collaborating with partners and vendors to jointly develop online products and launch online initiatives can be a great way for both sides to share the revenue as well as the risk.

    • There are also many new online content and video portal services and widgets that have business models based on revenue shares tied to the performance of your assets.
  • Copyright revenue: There are various methods to generate copyright revenue via online reprint services. You may not get rich doing this, but it can generate some dollars and serve as a promotional vehicle as reprints with your logo on it are distributed by your customer.
  • List rental: List rental can be a revenue source, and there are a variety of service providers that can handle the details for you.
  • Transaction bounty deals: Explore opportunities where you collect transaction bounties if you generate a transaction for your partner.
  • Affiliate programs: If you recommend products to your audience, there may be an affiliate program for you to consider joining.
  • Consulting services: If your e-media team has a lot of digital expertise, you may want to offer its services to other companies on a consulting basis.

Your organization’s multipronged revenue model may include two of these approaches. It may include all of them. Best of luck in determining what’s optimal for your organization.

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