As a successful niche publisher, developing a plan for smart growth for your media company means saying “No” to ideas that don’t fit your business model, and “Yes” to ideas that spur revenue growth and audience value. How can you choose wisely?
We interviewed Ted Williams, founder/CEO of Charlotte Agenda, for insights on developing and monetizing audience by making the right choices among revenue channels. He launched with a tiny staff, no outside investment, and quickly drove revenues close to $1MM.
What are some good guidelines for niche publishers to determine the right channel mix for their media company and their audience?
Ted: “In today’s environment, you have to figure out what journalism supports your business model. Scale doesn’t work because Facebook and Google will always win on scale, targeting and cost.
Publisher success will be defined by saying “no” to all the new shiny channels that don’t support their business model.”
What do you think are some of the top obstacles to revenue growth for niche publishers?
Ted: “It’s a horrifying time to be a general interest publisher – you’ll see these companies slowly die over the next few years with the exception of a few national players like the New York Times. The internet has eliminated distribution as an advantage. Geography doesn’t matter.
Another challenge is that advertisers can easily buy Facebook and Google – which both have excellent targeting, incredible reach and cost less than traditional ad offerings.
The good news is that niche publishers can take advantage of the internet’s distribution to reach more audience. You’ll see more monetization through custom content, events and subscriptions.”
Can you give us some real world examples of publishers who are leading the pack in terms of innovation?
Ted: “Both The Information and Stratechery have executed brilliantly at focusing on growing paying subscribers. The New York Times basically adopted this strategy in their latest innovation report.
Focusing on 18-34, Barstool Sports has also done an incredible job innovating. They’ve developed licensing deals, a commerce business and their advertising campaigns are brilliantly integrated.”
What do you think is next on the horizon in digital monetization strategies?
Ted: “You’ll see more focus on reader revenue (subscriptions) as Facebook and Google gobble up more and more ad dollars. You’ll also see niche publishers approach advertising more like a Minor League Baseball team approaches sponsorships.”
Editors note: Ted will be a keynote speaker at Super Niche in Charlotte, March 27-29, New Launches from Zero to 200 MPH… The Right Business Channels = The Revenue Fast Lane!
More about Ted: Ted Williams is the Founder & CEO of Charlotte Agenda. This high-growth local company’s audience includes over 400,000 UVs/mo, 60,000+ Instagram followers and 20,000+ daily newsletter subscribers. Sponsors include brands like Bank of America, Uber, and more. The Agenda has been covered by Harvard’s Nieman Lab and others as a bright spot in local media.
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