Show me the money: Digital media speakers look to monetisation

It’s OK to put your hand out and ask… That was the message from speakers at the Digital Media Asia conference which opened in Singapore yesterday.

The question, however, is how best to get online and mobile users to pay for content.

CommScore Asia Pacific vice president Joe Nguyen was the first to suggest newspapers aren’t getting their share, and says brand advertising is a missed opportunity. “And the digital industry has not helped itself by being so measurable,” he says.

Clicks – which typically come from younger and lower-income users, “not the people you’re going after” – were the wrong metric, and digital would do better to use reach and frequency, like other parts of the media industry.

There were ideas about how to collect payment painlessly, from Press+ cofounder Gordon Crovitz, a former ‘Wall Street Journal’ publisher and commentator. The new company’s Reader Revenue Platform promised a variety of payment strategies which he says, “few publishers could afford to develop for themselves”.

A metered ‘freemium’ model which will be used by the ‘New York Times’ next year, offers some free access but charges for greater use. But section fronts should not be included, Crovitz says.

From Singapore’s website, assistant manager Alvin Lim talked selective monetisation, and Yuichiro Watanabe of Japan’s ‘Nikkei’ explained his newspaper’s three-level subscriber model.

And ‘Yomiuri Shimbun’ was drawing on its extensive archive of medical reports to make money from a site containing a medical encyclopedia and hospital directory, as well as ‘medical consultation’, Marika Horikawa says.

But some things were still free: Yolanda Ma Jinx says the ‘South China Morning Post’ doesn’t expect to make money from its CitizenMap environmental site, and founding chief editor of Bangkok’s ‘The Nation’ Suthichai Yoon believes that using online phenomena such as social media to enhance print editions will bring increased profits there.

Digital Media Asia continues today with a focus on mobiles, and concludes on Friday when the programme turns to tablets and e-reading. Delegates will also visit the Mediacorp Newshub and Singapore Press Holdings’ multimedia centre.

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