Does Free Drive Fee? Can Publishers More Successfully Monetize Content by Giving It Away First

Moderated by: Nick Weir-Williams, Senior Business Consultant, Publishing Technology
Location: O'Neill (4th Floor) Level:

In the drive to monetize digital content, many publishers in different genres have experimented or are considering strategies to drive customers to purchase their content, in ways that are fundamentally different from those marketing strategies that are conventionally used for print product.

Understanding the impact of free content on paid sales is a potentially powerful new marketing weapon but also a potentially dangerous one, and most definitely a tool of change. To offer some or all of the content free, either in total for a limited period of time, or in fragments to encourage purchase of full access at a later point. Free content can also be enhanced by supplementary materials or data if purchased, or periodic updates can be freely available and delivered to purchasers. Much can be learned from the success or failure of magazines and newspapers in this area.

In many cases the marketing strategy employed needs to be considered at the commission stage of a product, and editorial need to be as much involved in strategizing what to give for free as marketing are. There may also be requirements for in-house systems to be altered to accommodate a very different business model, as well as mindsets of many staff.

This session will consider actual examples from publishers who have tried this and discuss its efficacy at actually driving income in the short or medium term or whether it just creates a mindset that content should be free if you wait long enough, or whether different genres of publishing differ in what can be given away without cannibalizing a prospective sale. We welcome war stories and an open discussion of what publishers have been attempting to do in this area, and to brainstorm new and innovative ideas. As well as digital content and delivery personnel, this session will benefit from the presence of marketing and editorial specialists

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Picture of Mark J. Levitt
Mark J. Levitt
02/18/2010 9:38am EST

I will not be able to attend this Roundtable, but this Radar post from Tim O’Reilly may prove relevant to your discussion: Free is more complicated than you think

Nick Weir-Williams
02/17/2010 11:06am EST

happy to start the conversation up in advance if anyone wishes to find out more about the roundtable! Hope you can come on Monday. Nick

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