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7 ways news media can make money with video

By Yusuf Omar

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London, United Kingdom


The entire industry appears to be pivoting to video like a netball player switching directions on the court. But where is the money?

If the daily flow of resources is moving toward visual storytelling and we continue to spend, the media industry must find ways to recuperate. I’ve spent the past two months visiting media houses in almost 25 cities. Here are the seven ways I have noticed media are making money with video.

A number of companies have found creative ways to monetise video content.
A number of companies have found creative ways to monetise video content.

1. Crowdfunded video.

Mobile apps like Patreon and Live.ly are offering peer-to-peer payments, meaning the audience can directly pay the content creator for the content it likes. Finally, all those hearts, likes, and other endorphin-enduring buttons they are tapping are yielding an income for storytellers.

Check out YouTuber Tim Pool (aka Timcast), who is a journalist relying almost entirely on his audience. Medium is also experimenting in this space with the “Claps” feature.

2. Sponsored content and content marketing.

It is the buzzword, but it’s also working. I met representatives from a media house from Kazakhstan called Yuframe. They are quite literally selling their audience of three million Instagram followers. It costs US$5,000 per sponsored picture and US$7,000 for a YouTube video.

The trick is the company’s branded content is just as funny and/or informative as all its other content. It’s clearly labeled #Ad and it works.

3. Over-the-top shows.

For the longest of time, TV studios have bought shows from content creators. That now applies to the big social media companies too. Snapchat, for example, is doing ad revenue shares with a bunch of publishers in its Discover section. YouTube Red, the walled garden of subscription content on the online video platform, is doing similar deals.

I’m paying close attention to Facebook’s new Watch tab and Amazon’s social media efforts, too. Even Apple is buying or producing all sorts of shows these days (though most of them currently suck). And, if your stories are good — like Game of Thrones good — Netflix might be interested.

4. On platforms.

One of the most obvious revenue streams for video is platforms like YouTube with the pre-roll advertising. It’s a slow trickle, but if you build up a big enough reservoir of stories and work that long tail, money may be coming in for years to come.

For this strategy, you’ve got to focus on evergreen videos that age well. Shelf life is everything. Jumboos, which is an influencer network by 24 Sata, gets about US$1,500 dollars per one million views. Facebook is also testing mid-roll, but as headlined by Digiday, we’re seeing pennies to pivot there.

5. Subscription or paywall.

If it’s good, people will pay for it. That’s the logic media houses across Scandinavia are banking on, and it’s working. They are making great, original content, putting it behind paywalls, and people are signing up. As they say, quality over quantity.

6. Data and insights.

Here’s a novel idea: All your video stories are simply research and development, testing the social media platforms to see what makes them tick. And then you sell that data to brands and other news companies trying to master the video game.

That’s what kit.se is doing. Is it successful? To be determined …

7. Finally, do what you do best.

Make money on your site, and simply use the epic reach of videos on Facebook and other platforms to migrate audiences to your dot-com and other core assets. We know referral rates are crappy. But if you create videos with suspense, when audiences are at the edge of their touchscreen to find out more, they’ll go wherever you tell them to go.

Just like TV video doesn’t work well online, broadcast techniques of making money aren’t translating online, so we need to find new ones.

Do you have more novel monetisation ideas? Tell me about them at @YusufOmarSA.

About Yusuf Omar

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