14 Revenue Opportunities Publishers have with Digital Advertisers

in Community Content Engine

In part 1, of this 6 part series about revenue ideas for community publishers, we will talk about 14 different revenue opportunities publishers have with digital advertisers.

In parts 2-6, we’ll cover the digital opportunities they have with consumers, print advertising opportunities, offline revenue opportunities and opportunities for selling marketing tools and services to local businesses.

Before we continue, it’s important to understand that selling digital is really about helping businesses join the conversation already taking place on your website. That is helping them reach the audience that you’ve cultivated in a way that provides value for your readers. To that end, there are several ways you can help them do so.

1) Social Promotions

Sweepstakes and contests are great ways to jump start your digital revenue. Advertisers want to reach your audience and often don’t have the expertise to design, administer and promote a social promotion on their own. Others simply don’t have the time. Whatever their reason, this is a great opportunity to offer them a valuable service, especially around major events such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Back to School, Black Friday, Christmas and many more.

2) Best of Contest

Best of Contests are a special type of social promotion that deserves its own category. For those publishers with a local business directory (see below), this is a great opportunity to promote the directory and sign up new directory listings. While it may not generate much revenue directly (although you can, and should, sell a premium sponsorship for the contest), it will help you drive traffic to your site which in turn will help you sell other things in the future. Plus, readers love them!

3) Reviews Contest

If you have a directory that features reviews of local businesses, reviews contests are great way to get businesses to engage with your site/brand. For example, you could say the business with the most reviews in the next 30 days will be featured with a full page spread in the next issue (or on the homepage for web only publishers). Of course, in order for them to collect reviews, they’ll need to sign up for a free directory listing which in turn you can use to market the benefits of a premium listing or other digital offerings. It will also help you grow your traffic.

4) Blogger Contest

One of the biggest challenges that local publishers face is finding local writers. Whether you have a budget or not, there is a large untapped pool of writers out there that you can tap into. Many writers just want to reach a bigger audience or show off a skill they have acquired. By running a blogger contest, you can help them do so, find regular contributors and most importantly make money by selling a premium sponsorship. Any promotion where the prize is something social is a great opportunity to sell sponsorships to businesses that simply want to be associated with the community such as banks and real estate agents.

5) Banner Ads

Banner ads are the most common way people think about monetizing their sites and you could spend hours talking about the pros and cons of all the different options such Google Ads, Ad Networks, Direct sales, etc. However, one thing’s for sure, they should be a part of your strategy but not be the only way you monetize your site.

6) Local Guides/Special Advertising Pages

Specialized pages on your website can be used to highlight different topics, areas, events or ideas that are important to your locale. For example, you could create a local holiday gift guide, a special page that highlights your historic downtown area or simply provide a list of schools. These pages provide you with great local SEO (Google juice) and also the opportunity to sell exclusive sponsorships to those businesses that wish to be associated with the various topics.

7) Business Directory

The business directory should be the core of your digital strategy. After all, your job as a local publisher is to be a middle man of sorts. You provide valuable information to your readers and then help businesses join the conversations that you cultivate online. A directory can be free, premium or freemium (freemium is our recommendation) but it should serve to both highlight local businesses while providing valuable information for consumers (i.e., reviews, hours of operation, menus, etc.).

8) Events Calendar

Of all the ideas we’ve discussed so far, the calendar may be one of the most important as it will be the thing that keeps people coming back to your site over and over again. That said, it’s also got limited direct revenue potential. You can however offer featured events that show up more prominently for those event promoters looking for added exposure. You can also offer to announce or recap events in an advertorial (see below) for an additional fee.

9) Email Newsletter

Email is still one of the most powerful ways to promote businesses. Whether they’re looking to remain top of mind or promote a sale, email sponsorships provide a captivated audience to present their offer.

10) Coupons

Offering businesses the ability to offer coupons on your site is another way to increase your digital revenue. This could be in the form of a special page on your site or further integrated into the directory experience but either way it’s a nice way to keep people coming back to the site while also helping businesses drive new business (for a small fee of course).

11) Deals/Loyalty Program

Deals are a hot topic these days. With sites like Groupon and Living Social offering one time deals with no limits, the deals can quickly get upside down and, if not carefully monitored, can end up costing business money instead of making them money. Publishers have the opportunity to take a slightly different approach here. By offering a deals service on a subscription basis, they can help businesses better estimate their costs and promote multiple deals as opportunities arise including deals which are based on a fixed amount of inventory (say extra fish that needs to be sold at a restaurant before it goes bad). By integrating this into the directory experience you can also incorporate a loyalty program of sorts into the process.

12) E-commerce

E-commerce isn’t something you would typically consider selling as a service but for many small businesses who either can’t afford to implement an e-commerce site or simply don’t have the time, you can provide a way to highlight and sell their best products online.

13) Advertorials

Advertorials are educational and/or entertaining articles that are published on your website (although advertorials can be print based as well) that highlight a business or person. The main purpose of advertorials is to help the advertiser brand themselves as the community expert in a given field or topic. For example, a landscaper might provide gardening tips or a chef at a local restaurant may share one of their recipes. Assuming you include a brief bio of the business or person, or better yet a link to their directory listing that has lots of reviews, they will continue to generate new leads from this article for the foreseeable future. A win-win for both the publisher and the advertiser.

14) Local Job Boards

Last on our list, is a community job board. A simple system to help connect local job seekers and local employers without the hassle of complicated systems and recruiters can be a valuable community service. Plus you can charge business a small fee to post their job listings.

Regardless of what you choose to sell (or not sell), the key to driving digital revenue is uncovering the goals and objectives of your advertisers and then choosing the right medium to help them achieve them.

Did we miss any? Share your ideas below (and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for part 2).


Want help jumpstarting your revenue? Talk with us about Membership and Consulting Services.

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