The advertising industry is in freefall. Particularly when it comes to publishing, and particularly online.
2020 has been especially disastrous, with the impact of COVID-19 causing businesses of all kinds to drastically cut their advertising budgets. Global pandemics are, of course, almost impossible to predict. But the accelerated decline of advertising? How could anyone not see that coming?
In general, the publishing industry is not particularly experimental. They rightly acknowledged the need to focus more on reader-generated revenue, but they all steadfastly embraced one single business model — growing subscriptions by implementing paywalls.
Paywalls ignore the needs of the many for the benefit of a few — potential regular readers find themselves forced into either accepting a subscription model or not being allowed to access the content they want.
Publishers need to stop thinking just from their own perspective and instead they must accept that a paradigm shift has taken place — from a push to a pull model.
If a reader hits a paywall when they try to access the content they want on one site, they’re more likely to go somewhere else to find it. The power is in their hands.
A business model that focuses only on 2 to 3% of potentially loyal readers is doomed to fail as it ignores the vast opportunity that the 90% offer.
Publishers need to ask themselves: What does my audience want? How do my readers consume content? Is our business model set up to embrace (and, yes, capitalize on) this?
The publishing house needs to downsize and become a publishing apartment.