Publishers Grope for New Revenue Models

In the analog dollars to digital dimes era, publishers desperately need new revenue streams. Two relative newcomers — content marketing and ecommerce  — are in vogue as a way for publishers to expand their businesses.

Forbes has pinned its hopes on distributing sponsors’ content. It’s called AdVoice, and it sits online (and in some cases, in print) alongside Forbes original reporting, though clearly marked as an ad. One of its clients, SAP, sees AdVoice more as a branding tool for itself than a direct ROI mechanism.  According to AdAge, however, AdVoice is having minimal impact on the publisher’s revenue. The problem here, though, is that Forbes is trying to sell on nostalgia, setting prices at pre-Internet magazine-dominance levels. With no such thing as scarcity on the Web, Forbes will have to rethink its pricing. It can take some cues from new-style publishers like the Huffington Post, which the WSJ reported last week is banking on content marketing as a major plank of its business.

Lucky Magazine is taking a slightly different approach, placing its chips on ecommerce. The NYT reports that the women’s magazine will introduce MyLucky.com, a shopping site directing readers to buy right from retailers like Macy’s and Sephora. Lucky takes a cut from all sales. Lucky follows GQ, which in May partnered with Nordstrom to create NordstromMen.com, a site Women’s Wear Daily describes as an integrated marketing effort that lets readers buy products that can be seen in the magazine directly from the e-commerce site. This is a smart move for publishers: drive commerce through your site instead of going elsewhere.

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