News publishers today are used to a wide range of revenue innovations in their struggling industry, yet three case studies presented Friday at INMAs World Congress of News Media in New York were about as diversified as one could get.

They include:

  • Running information technology, digital agency, event management, study tour and venture capital services.
  • Creating a reviews-based affiliate commerce site.
  • Producing episodic video series.

Russmedia: If there is one thing that ties together all the many varied enterprises under the Russmedia banner, it is that they all help support and grow the company’s home base in the Vorarlberg region of Austria. This is all on top of publishing Vorarlberger Nachrichten.

Georg Burtscher, managing director at RussMedia Digital, says 20% of its region attends the news brands events in the past year.
Georg Burtscher, managing director at RussMedia Digital, says 20% of its region attends the news brands events in the past year.

The company is already the largest IT provider in the region. “It’s very important to us that all the people in our region get the best access to the Internet,” said Georg Burtscher, managing director at Russmedia Digital.

There are all the events, conferences, gatherings, award programmes, and study tours. “Two out of 10 people in our region visited our events in the last 12 months,” according to Burtscher. 

And now RussMedia is both acquiring news business — such as the TOWA digital agency to guide small- and medium-sized enterprises from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland on their way to the digital world — and helping others start new businesses through venture capital firm RM International, which has already invested €100 million in marketplace developments. 

In terms of supporting Russmedia’s bottom line, Burtscher said most everything the company undertakes is its own cost center and generates a profit.

Business Insider: Since financial news Web site Business Insider, owned by Axel Springer, was already reviewing products and services for its readers, the logical next step was to make a whole new business out of it, according to Vice President for Commerce Breton Fischetti.

Breton Fischetti, vice president for commerce at Business Insider, shares the company's Insider Picks initiative.
Breton Fischetti, vice president for commerce at Business Insider, shares the company's Insider Picks initiative.

Insider Picks, as the online service is called, focuses on testing and recommending products and services to readers.

But don’t call it a shopping site, Fischetti was quick to say: “Commerce can be a bunch of different things, which is why we don’t call it shopping.” 

He also stressed that all of Insider Pick’s evaluations and reviews are independent. Product and service owners are unable to request inclusion on the site. Insider experts decide what they want to test.

“What we want to do is bring back a lot of what readers lost in the shift from buying at a store to buying online, which is the ability to see what it looks like, to touch a product, to try it on before buying,” Fischetti said. “So our job by testing the products and reviewing them is to bring that back so that, when users get that brown box that arrives on their doorstep, they know more about what’s inside than if they had just bought it online.”

Only once a product or service is recommended on the site are owners approached about possible affiliate relationships that generate revenue for Insider Picks in the event of sales. Said Fischetti: “The owners are under no obligation to accept, but most do. For the last four years, we have grown 100% year over year. I hope that continues.”

Alabama Media Group: Michelle Holmes, head of partnerships at Advance Publications-owned Alabama Media Group is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “pivot to video.” 

Michelle Holmes, head of partnerships at Alabama Media Group, shares examples from the company's video initiatives.
Michelle Holmes, head of partnerships at Alabama Media Group, shares examples from the company's video initiatives.

Usually the phrase refers to publishing companies cutting resources for writing stories in favour of having editorial staff produce short-form video content distributed through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat.

For Holmes, it refers to her publishing company starting up an independent video production company to develop and produce compelling original content for television, digital streaming platforms, and feature films.

It’s called Advance Originals.

“For us, the expansion of video isn’t a joke at all,” she said. “It really allows us to find new ways to work with advertisers.

“It’s kind of a pay-as-you-go model,” Holmes add when asked about the revenue goals. “We’re creating shows as we get them funded.”