All too often when I ask a colleague at another media company what their monetization strategy is (in general or regarding a specific product) the response I’m given is akin to “that’s not my station.” To me, that answer epitomizes the problems we’re seeing at too many media companies – too many people passing the proverbial buck.
Now, for those of you who have previously read my blog, you know that I’m a proponent of transparency and when it comes to an issue like monetization, I think companies need to increase transparency to lessen the impact of employees who believe that making money isn’t their problem.
Years ago, I worked for a company that had a gainsharing program. The idea was that when the company was successful and earned revenue above a certain target, the results were share with employees. When business didn’t go well, those results were also shared with employees who wound up referred to the program as “painsharing.” More then anything, the program made it clear to all employees that everything had a cost and that if there was an expense, there needed to be revenue.
Now that didn’t make reporters report any less, nor did it make editors assign fewer stories or photographers shoot fewer photos, but it did make nearly everyone pause and think. For example, editors asked if there was someone else already on duty instead of a reporter working overtime to cover a meeting and designers took a closer look at how much space they needed for a special section. But don’t get me wrong, the program did not suddenly erase waste nor make everyone more frugal.
With the economy being what it is, one would be hard pressed to find a company still running a gainsharing program. But I think the broader lessons are just as relevant in these difficult times.
I’m not proposing that everyone should follow the Dallas model (and yes I know that they say advertising is not really setting strategy), but I do think a better job needs to occur with making building revenue everyone’s problem and where that is already successfully happening in print, it needs to be extended to online.
So if I’m not calling for a Dallas approach, then what do I mean?
Simply put, I think there needs to be an approach that provides a seat at the table for all relevant parties not just advertising and/or content. I would suggest that from the start you involve people from your tech, business development, advertising and content and design teams. Make it clear not only what the goals are, but also what are the expenses. And make sure not to overlook any expenses, for example even the use of open source software can have associated expenses.
How often does advertising come up with an idea for a special section that content readily can’t fill? Or how often does content decide to create a special package that ignore advertising or sponsorship opportunities? Occurrences like those and many others happen in many different types media companies.
While an approach that treats everything as a product and is inclusive in its creation doesn’t guarantee a revenue positive effort, the alternative just doesn’t seem to be working.
What’s the approach at your company? Drop a comment and let me know.