Video continues to present opportunities for media companies, as more advertising dollars shift to online video and demand for mobile video content heats up. But there's no surefire video monetization recipe; what works for The Onion won't work for Acoustic Guitar magazine. Here are four different strategies publishers are using to monetize online video content.
Sell series sponsorship
Scott Havens, vice president of digital strategy and operations at The Atlantic Media Co., noted the reality many publishers face with video content: It's difficult to monetize a limited number of video streams, but it's also difficult to motivate small editorial staffs to devote resources to video in order to make it more scalable.
The Atlantic has found one effective way to monetize video: Selling video series to sponsors. For instance, Porsche sponsored the “Ask Andrew
” series, featuring popular Atlantic reporter Andrew Sullivan. The Atlantic, which can boast a lot of digital success
in the past year, was able to turn one writer's brand into advertising revenue
Put cameras in the hands of editors
While it can be difficult to make money from editorial video, it's still an investment The Atlantic is making, starting by building a studio for editorial staff. “If we build it they will have to use it,” Havens quipped at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo
last month in New York.
The “put cameras in the hands of editors” strategy has been one route to producing scalable video content. The concept has worked for The Journal Register
, which increased video revenue by 800 percent in 2010 versus 2009.
Monetizing editorial video comes even easier when you're The Onion. When the media company launched the Onion News Network
, it promised advertisers 200,000 views per week; instead, it got 1 million views, in the first week. “And that's how we capitalize on that,” said CEO Steve Hannah at PBC. Media outlets that don't feature The Onion's humor-oriented content will find it trickier to hit those numbers so quickly.
Syndicate video across a network
Tech publisher IDG capitalizes on advertiser demand for video content by licensing its feed to other sites in its network, said Peter Longo, CEO of IDG Syndication and Networks, speaking at PBC. IDG News Service
produces daily videos that aren't too resource-intensive (e.g. a video in front of the Apple store). As of last month, the publisher had about 40 sites hosting video content via its Brightcove
Longo's advice to other publishers: Gauge the interest advertisers have in video before investing too heavily in it. IDG has found the investment to be worthwhile. “The CPMs for us are far above anything else that we're doing,” he said.
Publishers can copy IDG's approach and produce a few videos a day or find an outside content network like Tremor Media
to provide it, Longo said. “The most important thing is to get the inventory available, get the people on your site trained to look at video.”
Sell single videos to subscribers
Though much of the discussion around video monetization centers on sponsorship and advertising, paid content can also work for publishers, particularly as demand increases for mobile video via paid apps.
String Letter Publishing
, publisher of Acoustic Guitar, has successfully sold downloadable instructional videos on its website. The numbers haven't been huge, but the product line has profitable from the start, David Lusterman, publisher at String Letter, said in an interview last month.
"One of our initial concerns was this might be something that’s a novelty to people,” Lusterman said. “We’ve been very gratified to see that there’s a constituency within our audience that likes to buy download products, and they do come back and buy them again.”
The next step for String Letter is to launch a mobile app with a subscription to stream from the publisher's library of videos. As mobile video becomes more popular and plausible (i.e. streaming technology improves), monetizing video through mobile apps will likely become more of the norm.