As the first major newspaper to move to being exclusively digital, The Independent has raised some interesting thoughts on how they can successfully monetise the digital content business model, whether through advertising, subscription, or some other means.
Of course making money is important, but despite much of the response to the shift saying that the reason for going digital is to save costs on printing and distributing physical newspapers, I think The Independent has the opportunity to become more than just an online newspaper. With the right strategy, The Independent could become the leader in news, articles, information, and storytelling.
Achieving this would take three things.
1. Real-time news delivery. This means feeding up-to-minutes reports about what’s happening all over the world to a single platform where it can be aggregated, organised, and delivered before anyone else.
2. Expert encyclopedic knowledge. Having experts from any and all areas of study and practice writing informative articles would form a knowledgebase with both depth and breadth, and become the go-to site for finding out the facts. It could usurp Wikipedia, with its user generated approach, by giving people more authoritative information.
3. User generated articles and story-telling. This could be achieved by buying medium.com or some other similar platform. There would be a free account for the majority of users with a voting up by the readers of the most popular articles, and premium paid-for accounts to generate revenue and allow for more serious writers and companies.
The real power of these three types of content in one place is the ability to cross-post and show related articles together. For example, companies could write articles about their products, charities about their work, and people about their experiences knowing that their content would show alongside relevant breaking news stories, almost a Google AdWords for written content, further increasing the revenue.