Requests for Revenues

Posted on 29. Jul, 2009 by in Revenue

No, we’re not asking for donations. But, we do want to hear your ideas for new revenue opportunities for online news organizations.

As we’ve been talking to news start ups from around the country, most everyone says they want to hear about new ways to make money, whether it’s to hire more reporters or just make sure that what they’ve built so far is sustainable. Maria from Uruguay summed it up pretty well in a comment to one of our posts yesterday:

We are a 3 million people country with a really poor advertising market. People are also concentrated in the capital city (the half of the population). Moreover, as you may know, the charity donation, or non-profit, or foundations culture is not developed in Latin America as in the United States and also there are no much resources. So, what are your suggestions when I try to encourage my students to think in new proyects for investigative journalism and new business models?

Maria, we hear you. Even though we think traditional online advertising will remain the core of the US news business for the foreseeable future, the share of revenues from advertising will likely decline. So, we’re putting together a list of new revenue opportunities that will go up on the site in the next few days. (We’ll also lay out examples of new ad units–or interesting modifications to established ad units–that may be helpful).

But, while we’re putting the final touches on that list, we want to hear your ideas for new revenues open to news organizations. All ideas are welcome! Throw them into the comments section.

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12 Responses to “Requests for Revenues”

  1. joe

    29. Jul, 2009

    I’m in incoming student at CUNY and I wanted to contribute some ideas for revenue models.

    I mostly work with online music magazines, so I’ll cite some examples you may or may not be aware of.

    PASTE magazine recently had a drive for reader donations. I know donations may not be considered a revenue stream, however quarterly ‘giveaways’ for small sums off money (tshirts, CDs, stickers) may be a viable option to raise some cash for web publications.

    I also agree with the freemium model, and as Chris Anderson describes ‘making a pet for the penguin’ as in the popular kids game. However, I believe a magazine’s website should always be free. Once a pay wall is constructed users will simply avoid the site and move on to the countless other options.

    what can be done is a premium service which includes such things as live concerts, exclusive interviews, and slickly produced web series such as has. These things obviously cost money to produce, and users should be expected to pony up if they want access to this exciting content.

    also tied in with the premium model should be a print version of the magazine. essentially, i believe a magazine should a product which includes all the forms of new and trad mediums which are available: web site, print, video, blog, twitter feed, webisode programs.

    If a publication can somehow master each of these integrated though separate avenues, they can become viable not only by attracting and audience to generate significant ad revenue, but also by having the ‘high grade’ content which can and should be charged for. has crafted a similar approach but they are giving away the ‘FaderTV ‘ segments. this, i believe, was a missed opportunity where they could have created a premium service which could have combined with ad revenue and print subscription to help keep the publication afloat. and with the descent of music mags, i hate to see another one bite the dust.

    i hope this was helpful as i know you are focusing more on the news site, but i felt i should start with what i know.
    look forward to working discussing this more in the future.

  2. Damian Ghigliotty

    29. Jul, 2009

    Thanks Joe. Those are interesting examples.

    We are actually looking to profile a local music website to add some variety to our coverage. Ideally one that focuses on the artists in its area. But maybe we’ll expand our scope to cover a larger publication that’s taking innovative steps as well.

    I’m a big fan of Fader and also hope they don’t bite the dust.

  3. Dan Pacheco

    30. Jul, 2009

    Our Knight Foundation-funded Printcasting ( is an experiment in democratized publishing with a self-serve advertising business model that benefits active participants.

    The New York Times recently did a good job of summing up what we’re about:

    We’re experimenting on three fronts.

    First, we’re trying to see if we can replicate many times over the success of digital-print business model, where content that originated online — either from professionals or amateurs — is placed in printed magazines which command CPMs of $20-$50, as compared to 37 cents-$3 for online ads.

    Second, we’re leveraging peoples’ desire to share by giving *them* the tools to create *their own* printable magazines. Our theory is that the pie will be bigger if a network of thousands of individuals is creating ad-supported magazines. It’s a bottom-up collective curation approach, versus the top-down approach newspapers traditionally use. Printcasting is for publishing what “citizen journalism” is for writing and reporting.

    And finally, we’re sharing revenue with all participants to see if that increases quality. Our network takes the smallest share — 10% — and we give 60% to publishers and 30% to contributors. Actual payouts correlate to the individual publication (for publishers) and percentage of content used compared to every other writer (for contributors).

  4. Matthew Sollars

    30. Jul, 2009

    Excellent set of points, Dan. We are certainly including the print publication opportunities in our list of revenues.

  5. Mike Darnell

    30. Jul, 2009


    I see your looking for new ideas about generating revenue from online news. Here at SemantiNet we have a new widget we’re looking for pilot partners for. The widget analyzes your site’s content and automatically identifies and highlights key-terms like: People, Places, Films, TV shows, Companies, etc.

    Highlighted terms are expanded upon with contextually relevant material drawn from the web in real-time – things like Related Articles, Videos, Images & Products.
    The financial model is revenue sharing on the affiliation income generated by sales and advertising.

    If you think you’d like to join our pilot please check out the widget page here: & contact me at miked[at]semantinet[dot]com

  6. Eduardo Lorea

    30. Jul, 2009

    I’m very hopeful of Vertical Ad Networks – groups of sites/blogs, theme-related, under one only Network brand, with a (traditional?) company selling ads and sharing revenue with the associated sites/blogs.

    Two examples: Martha’s Circle ( and The Guardian’s Green Ad Network ( In my opinion, that model can be optimized with a homepage promoting the whole content.

    Let’s imagine, dear Maria, a local ad network for Maldonado, in Uruguay. You should have a homepage (, let’s say), promoting the best content of your 10 associated blogs/sites. You would finance the network selling ads in the whole network, and sharing content between the content producers (“pro-ams”) and the head of the network (pros).

  7. Brent Finnegan

    30. Jul, 2009

    I’m in the process of turning a hobby citizen journalism blog into a legitimate local news network with a business model behind it. One idea I’ve discussed is working with local non-profits to produce reports. For example, if Charity X focuses on homelessness in my city, there should be a way to allow a donor to Charity X to give a certain amount to produce a series of reports on homelessness in the city.

    To be clear, I’m not talking about PR for Charity X. It would have to be understood that Charity X might not even be mentioned in the stories. But it’s mutually beneficial. The donor gets to make a tax-deductible contribution, the charity raises awareness of an issue, a freelance reporter gets paid, the website has content.

    It’s an idea in progress…

  8. Kurt Huang

    30. Jul, 2009

    Our BeneVote service enables publishers to earn incremental revenue through a cashless micropayment / micropatronage system. To learn more, please visit or A live demo is at We’ll be introducing additional features in the next few weeks that should make benevoting something readers will want to do on a regular basis.

  9. Mike Darnell

    31. Jul, 2009

    The question of generating much needed revenues to help support the publishing industry is one of the reasons that we at SemantiNet believe there is merit in harnessing the power of the semantic web to improve content and advertising for both reader and publishers.

    We’re piloting a new semantic web widget for publishers designed at enriching publisher content and increasing ROI on archived content while increasing ad inventory and revenues via automated in-text links.

    Our platform analyzes your site’s content & automatically identifies and highlights key-terms like: People, Places, Films, TV shows ,Companies etc.

    Highlighted terms are expanded upon with contextually relevant material drawn from the web in real-time – videos, related articles (customizable to include your publication as a source), images and products.

    Revenue is generated and shared via affiliate links from the product links. Check out our demo here:
    and feel free to contact me at miked[at]semantinet[dot]com or @headup on Twitter.

  10. Maria

    01. Aug, 2009

    Thank you all for all the answers. They are really helpful. We are going to replicate this kind of project in our University for the Latin American markets and I will certainly be sharing the outcomes.


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