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E-Paper Monetisation: Is Your E-Reader Solution Built for the Future?

Published on 03 Nov 2022 | Team ConsCent | 7 mins read

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As the internet dominates the publishing industry, publishers are on the lookout for new-age monetisation opportunities. From paywalling their valuable content to curating special products that are solely aimed at driving recurring revenue, publishers the world over are experimenting with multiple new methods to attract users to their platform who will pay for their content.

In our previous article on E-Paper Monetisation: The Next Big Opportunity for Publishers, we discussed how e-papers are emerging as one of the hottest products on the digital market as they gain popularity among readers. And also try to reason out why monetising them right now would be a step in the right direction regarding new revenue opportunities for publishers.

However, monetisation is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a major gap in the technology that powers e-papers and e-magazines, preventing publishers from realising their full potential. In this article, we will be answering some frequently asked questions that are aimed at addressing these technological gaps and sharing knowledge on the innovations that E-reader solution services need to offer to publishers for not just better monetisation but also gaining control over their data that will help them forge long term relationships with their readers.

Q1. Why is monetising e-paper the right move? I earn ad revenue from the page views I gain on my e-paper on a daily basis. I fear that if I paywall my e-paper, my page views will drop.

In the previous two years, e-papers have really risen in popularity. So much so that e-papers account for nearly 80% of the 90 crores worth of digital subscriptions sold.

Excerpt from The Rise of E-Papers in the times of COVID
Excerpt from The Rise of E-Papers in the times of COVID

E-papers increase the reach of daily papers by up to 100 times, have a negligible production cost, and if one is to go by industry estimates, represent a lucrative opportunity for growth and monetisation in the near future. However, over 98% of e-papers continue to offer free news access. Free may have helped people get used to reading newspapers online, but it hasn't helped them get into the habit of paying for newspapers in the digital space.

At a time when the media industry is already fighting the "free mindset," undermining the capabilities of a product that has a proven history of being consumed upon paying in the physical world can prove to be an irreversible error of judgement.

Below are two illustrations that show the substantial rise in the adoption of connected devices and the distribution of audiences amongst various age groups that pay for at least one kind of news service. Both of these data points project a worldwide trend working in favour of publishers, proving that they are going to be the weapon of future monetisation for publishers.

Overview of the adoption and use of connected devices and services
Overview of the adoption and use of connected devices and services
Paying for digital news: Age-wise distribution
Paying for digital news: Age-wise distribution

Addressing the later part of the question, the opportunity cost of monetising an e-paper vs. the ad revenue is much higher. While you only aim to monetise your free traffic via ads, you are losing twice: a) Significant revenue loss from intent-based monetisation, where you have equal chances of selling your e-paper to the same audience (higher chances of earning in case you micro-price your everyday issue). b) 80% of your ad revenue goes back to the service provider, which will never justify the marketing cost of driving that single-digit revenue per thousand views.

Q2. My physical newspaper is well-read by a large segment. We use e-paper only to boost the reach of our content in the digital space. How will monetisation help me?

India is probably the only country where print media has continued to grow, while everywhere else in the world it is facing an existential crisis. Two reasons that have ensured its sustenance are a) India’s growing literacy rate and b) its robust distribution network.

However, the real question is: for how long can print media sustain this growth?

Growth of all media forms in India between 2017-2020
Growth of all media forms in India between 2017-2020

The above illustration represents the growth of all media forms in India from 2017 - 2020. While broadcast and print have continued to grow at a steady pace, their proportion when compared to the total size of the media industry is shrinking. And it would continue to shrink as the adoption of digital grows.We believe that the increased adoption of smartphones, the launch of 5G for faster internet speed, better last-mile connectivity, and the decreasing cost of smartphones all together represent a huge opportunity for digital news, especially in the vernacular medium. A lot more people consuming content via their smartphones will have a direct impact on print circulation. This, along with increasing raw material costs for paper and ink, would adversely affect print media in the coming years.

India to have 1Bn smartphone users by 2026: Deloitte Report
India to have 1Bn smartphone users by 2026: Deloitte Report


Also, just being present online is not enough. Forward-looking media businesses are currently looking at becoming self-sustaining. In digital business, survival is everything. Be it e-commerce or a b2b SaaS business, everybody on the digital side is in the game for gaining maximum page views and driving meaningful actions from their audience.

Many big and niche publishers who are ConsCent partners have already started monetising their e-papers because they realise that e-papers as a product have a higher proclivity to be paid by users than any other digital content form. Because people are used to paying for newspapers in the real world, it doesn't take much to get them to do the same thing in the digital world.

Q3. If I start monetising my e-paper, my audience will start reading the competing newspapers, which are free. How do I tackle that?

On a newspaper stand where over 12 newspapers compete for a consumer’s attention at once, the decision is made based on brand loyalty, content, and most importantly, habit.

Similarly, in digital, there are chances that users might not pay for your e-paper the first time, but they will come back to you if they are loyal and are habitually reading your content.

ConsCent’s smart e-reader solution lets you micro-price your daily issue. Pay-per-read pricing, where readers can just pay for the current issue, is aimed at reducing the entry barrier by 95%. The preview feature in ConsCent’s all-new E-Reader solution lets your users check out the newspaper's front page, replicating the behaviour of the physical world – which is intended for faster buying decisions by the user.

Moreover, our engagement tools let you retarget your micropayers to become repeat payers and increase adoption while nurturing them to be pushed further into the subscription funnel.

Q4. How can I increase user engagement with my e-paper and digital content?

There are several ways you can drive engagement with your subscribers as well as micro-payments on your e-paper. However, data is the foundation of any effective engagement or marketing strategy and is at the heart of personalisation.

The existing e-reader solutions on the market leave a huge gap for publishers, right from collecting valuable user data to driving revenue through user engagement.

Factors to consider for continuous flow of revenue into publisher’s pockets
Factors to consider for continuous flow of revenue into a publisher’s pocket

Bridging these gaps with the idea of allowing publishers to map a complete user lifecycle, ConsCent offers a full stack of monetisation, analytics, recommendation, and engagement solutions to publishers under one roof. Using our E-Reader solution, publishers can:

> Publish e-papers and e-magazines, all editions, with a single click.

> Integrate hybrid and dynamic paywalls.

> Introduce micropayments, letting users pay for only today’s e-paper

> Get free user analytics

> Build and link customisable subscription landing pages.

> Engage with registered and paying users

> Offer a preview before paying

Product Features: ConsCent’s Smart E-Reader Solution

Q.5 How can I minimise leakage in my e-paper?

As per our industry survey, e-paper and e-magazine leakage via social channels is one of the biggest challenges that is impeding effective monetisation. To put an end to this, we have introduced a feature in ConsCent’s E-Reader solution where, while setting up the front end of your e-paper or e-magazine landing page, you can restrict its download only to the original buyer.

Upon passing the bought file, the other user will not be able to download the file on their devices. This is a revolutionary feature that can actually make monetisation more wholesome and effective.

In a nutshell:

The digital transformation of publishers in India is just getting started. Only the top 2–3% of publishers have really aligned their digital strategies with their north star metrics. The rest are still experimenting or don't care what the future holds.

E-papers and e-magazines can truly be a revenue goldmine for publishers given that the technology on which they are built supports them with two major aspects: Data to establish direct connections with consumers and Intelligence to fuel up your monetisation stack.

With innovation at its core and publisher concerns as the guiding path, ConsCent is all set to launch its first smart e-reader solution.

Stay tuned for more information.

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Published By Team ConsCent

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