Top business models for publishers – Part II

Jul 7, 2020 | Articles

Andrea Burgueño

Andrea Burgueño


Last week we explored some of the most common monetization strategies for publishers. However, there are many others that might now be so popular. Ready to learn more about the top business models for publishers? Then… keep reading!

Leveraging e-commerce possibilities

One of the best examples of this is Net-a-porter. It looks like a fashion magazine. In fact, it is an online fashion magazine that produces high quality content and offers valuable information about trends and products. Though, it is also the perfect e-commerce for trend setters, fashion hunters and, in general, anyone who would read a fashion magazine.

Segmentation is key for this type of business because the content is always very specific and targets a particular niche. This allows publishers to easily match the offers to their audience and to optimize the selling process.


Even though publishers can’t rely only on advertising to grow their revenue, it is still one of the most important sources of income for many of them. Like in the previous example, audience segmentation is key. Some publishers have been focusing on establishing excellent relationships with advertisers and on working on new products for them. This is great, but it requires an extra effort on another front.

Publishers need to work on knowing their audience, amplifying their reach and creating engagement. This is something that tends to be overlooked very often. A real audience is not about how many people read an article. It is about how many of those who read today’s article will read tomorrow’s article too. By creating engagement, publishers build loyal audiences that can be analyzed and segmented. Once publishers know their audiences and what to do to preserve their loyalty, they can deliver results. This way, not only their audience, but also their advertisers will be loyal. A very good example of this is Guardian Labs.

Selling software

This model of business requires much more than editorial or creative teams. It requires a significant investment in IT. Therefore, not everyone can afford it, but is it still worthwhile.

Big media companies have the advantage over small or independent magazines of having more connections and resources usually. In fact, most of them are able to sell their products to small sized publishers (see The Washington Post’s ARC, for instance).

However, selling software does not only imply having an IT team in-house, but also, having sales and consulting teams.

Monetizing databases

Probably this was one of the first options that you had in mind when we started talking about business models for publishers. It is in fact one of the most common ones (a good example of this is ProPublica).

Database marketing is actually related to selling advertising. Only it does not need to be a part of it. Advertisers who want to increase their efficiency level can use publishers’ databases for a more accurate targeting. The emergence of programmatic advertising increased the importance of data. Basically, campaign efficiency can be significantly increased just by leveraging own and third party data.

When focusing on this business model it is important for publishers to keep growing their own database. Classified ads and verticals are good assets to make it happen.

But that’s not all…

Maybe some of these business models are not viable for you (yet). Or you are already taking advantage of some of them. It might well be that you have already started to explore something new. Whatever your case is, we would love you to share your experience with us and our readers. Feel free to send us an e-mail!!!

Meanwhile… don’t miss Part III next week. Stay tuned!

What’s the most important source of income for publishers?

Definitely, the most common and most important sources of revenue publishers have is advertising. Brands use publishers as a way to reach their target audience, that’s why a big part of the revenue is destined to advertise in publishers’ sites.

Why do publishers get into e-commerce?

Since the content publishers provide tends to be specific and niche, leveraging their audience and diving into e-commerce opportunities is a good move to increase their revenue.

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