Jun 06, 2018 Categories: Social Media & Digital Communications Tags: Brand Visibility, Communications Program, PR

opening a lock National brands on the forefront of daily news breaking stories like The Financial Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have implemented a paywall model over the past several years to success. Bloomberg News is the latest publisher to pursue the paywall model for its main news site.

Paywall models affect both the consumption and dissemination of media, and have many organizations scratching their heads about how to generate broad awareness when major media brands are protecting what used to be free content.

The new paywall reality means organizations must rethink the media opportunities and what has value today.

New forms of media – many free and open to all consumers—that used to be seen as second-tier are quickly becoming preferred outlets for organizations of all sizes, and getting to know and understand them is critical for successful communications today. Here are just a few: 

  • PODCASTS: According to Edison’s ‘Share of Ear’ Study, Americans listened to 21 million hours of podcasts per day in 2015, with one major contributing factor the ability for consumers to listen to a podcast episode on-demand on their smartphones. Consumers must “opt-in” to their podcast choices by subscribing, providing exposure to a higher-value, targeted audiences as well measurable reach data. 
  • LIVE STREAMING NEWS: The best example is Cheddar, described as a ‘quasi-CNBC for millennials.’ The financial news network streams three hours of live content daily from the floor of the NYSE to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Amazon Prime and audio on iHeartRadio. Cheddar’s streams on social media platforms has opened it to mainstream consideration – it reportedly garnered 148 million views in August 2017 across all of its platforms. 
  • SOCIAL MEDIA VIDEO: Content producers like Al Jazeera Plus and NowThis specifically create videos for maximum playability on social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. Beyond pioneering the medium’s most effective use, they’ve helped set the standard for branded online video that is unique, engaging and mobile-friendly. In addition, online video posted on social media platforms provides the opportunity for users to share – adding another dimension to their distribution capabilities and allowing additional insight into audience sentiment. 
  • LINKEDIN NEWS: LinkedIn is evolving from a professional networking service to an original, content-first, social media platform with the launch of LinkedIn News and acquisition of news aggregator, Pulse. To bolster its news division, LinkedIn has pulled top reporters from legacy outlets across the globe to build out reporting on finance, politics and current events. The site uses its existing user data and algorithms to promote content targeted to the feeds of relevant members. The obvious benefit of pursuing visibility via LinkedIn News is the direct exposure to professionals – 59% of LinkedIn’s news users have college degrees, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Don’t Write off Paywalled Media

While paywalls may hinder widespread exposure, they also help organizations focus their visibility strategies on high-value audiences. The most important industry information often breaks in trade outlets that have the ability to cover the story with greater depth. Examples include LevFin insights, which provides information on corporate debt transactions minutes after filings, and the WSJ PRO publications, read by investors, entrepreneurs, regulators and fund managers – all high value audiences for private investment and finance firms.

BOTOM LINE: Understanding how the paywall model is affecting content consumption is crucial when developing an effective media strategy. Effective media strategies utilize visibility in major paywall protected outlets but also understand it is only one piece of the puzzle to be complimented by new and emerging forms of media as well as trade outlets targeting industry populations.

– Edward DeSciora

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