Periods of heightened uncertainty are difficult for all businesses to navigate, but it’s during turbulent times that stable and dependable partners prove their value. For publishers, it will become increasingly clear in the months ahead which technologies, tools and platforms are best equipped to support their long-term success, and which could place their businesses in difficult positions.
The global economic outlook is looking increasingly precarious, and publishers should expect to face headwinds as the year continues to unfold. Consumer budgets are shrinking – thanks to runaway inflation and the fallout of conflict in Europe, among other factors – and revenue challenges are now inevitable for many media businesses.
The good news for those monetizing audiences via subscription and membership models is that although subscription revenue is not immune to the effects of broader economic conditions, it’s often more insulated than the revenue generated through other channels such as sponsorships, advertising, and commerce. That’s assuming, however, that publishers have selected reliable technology and monetization partners with stable and sustainable businesses of their own that can help position publishers to navigate tricky circumstances effectively.
As I’ve argued previously, any publisher looking to build a sustainable long-term subscription or membership business should think carefully when selecting monetization and technology tools. Gravitating towards the “cheapest” option is understandable, but publishers I advise are often looking to migrate to new platforms and tools because their existing partners have either fallen short of expectations, failed to provide ample room to grow in terms of the features and functionality they offer, or provided lackluster support and guidance.
These frustrations become even more pronounced during difficult economic periods. As audience demands, market variables and economic factors shift quickly around them, the last thing publishers should need to worry about is monetization tools holding them back. Janky technology, missed revenue opportunities and operational headaches are irksome at the best of times, but during periods of instability their impact can quickly compound to the point where they create significant risk for publishers’ businesses.
It’s also more important now than ever that publisher partners have built stable and sustainable businesses of their own, and won’t leave customers in the lurch when they’re forced to shift their attention or product focus to chase revenue or different opportunities.
Based on my work with publishers and media companies in recent months – subscription and membership revenue is holding up well even as consumers and companies begin to tighten their belts and control their spending more closely. New subscriber acquisition may have slowed, but retention remains strong for those publishers that have built valuable products and genuine connections with their audiences.
My advice to publishers concerned about a difficult economic period is to keep things simple and focus on getting the basics right. Specifically:
- Delivering high-value, differentiated content on a consistent basis.
- Ensuring a seamless product and user experience that makes paying for and accessing that content as easy as possible.
And when it comes to technology and monetization tools, I would urge publishers to scrutinize potential partners closer than ever to ensure they have clear philosophies and outlooks, proven products and track records, and are committed to subscription and membership models for the long haul.
Publishers that continue to meet the needs and expectations of audiences and subscribers – and have technology and tools in place that empower them to do so – should be in a position not only to navigate challenging economic climates effectively but to emerge on the other side of them in strong positions.