Monetize Content: What Online Publishers Can Learn From iTunes

Posted on Jun 21, 2012
By Dan Sauerhaft

Let's take a look at the success of iTunes -- one of the most successful business models of our age -- and tease out some lessons for online publishers.

How Does iTunes Monetize Content?

iTunes is such a great way to get music.

It’s instant, it’s easy, it’s economical, and the licensed music retains its high fidelity. It’s a great business model, serving both music creators and consumers.

But … did you ever buy from iTunes a song you never heard before?

Probably not. Most of us only buy songs that we already like and want to be able to listen to over and over again at our convenience.

It’s the demand for repeated use by a single fan that leads to subscriptions, licenses, and profits.

Alas, our iTunes analogy quickly falls apart.

The Publishers Dilemma: Why Pay For Online Content?

In a nutshell, here’s the bind:

  • it’s hard to get folks to pay for an article before they’ve read it, because they don’t know if it’s any good.
  • it’s near impossible to get them to pay afterwards because … they’ve already read it and have no interest in a second read.

Of course, some publishers with a rock solid brand can monetize content among readers who liked past articles, and are willing to pay for future articles sight-unseen.

But subscriptions and paywalls only work for some online publishers and some readers.

So if first use is hard to monetize, and second use is even harder, what’s a publisher to do?

The Most Profitable Moment in An Article’s Life: The “Copyright License Moment of Truth”

That one instant when a reader likes an article and wants to reuse it in a commercial context is probably the most profitable moment in an article’s life.

We call it the “Copyright License Moment of Truth”.

If someone reads your article and likes it she may refer it to her colleagues for reading:

  • She may reprint it, republish it on her site, or email it to colleagues.
  • If she’s come to respect your brand she may want to syndicate an entire feed of your articles!

How well you monetize content hinges on this one moment in the life of an article and your reader!

iCopyright … like iTunes, for Online Publishers

With our article toolbar, we aim to make “referral use” of articles super user-friendly — instant, easy, economical, and with high-quality delivery – all with a few clicks.

Let’s return to our iTunes analogy.

Isn’t making life easier for content creators and consumers the key to iTunes success, after all?

Check out the toolbar that sits atop this blog post, to experience for yourself how article tools can be both reader friendly and economical, and boost a publisher’s opportunity to monetize content.

Get the iCopyright Toolbar

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