As digitalization grows, more and more content producers are sharing their content online in the form of journalism, ebooks, video or audio. Consumers find access to these different information in the shared virtual space and some of it come as free.
Given the effortless access an individual can have over the web, a new content producer may build his reputation faster by posting free online content. The absence of gatekeeper (i.e. Cost) increases visibility of his work over a wider range of global audience, and may gain recognition through trusted reviews and word-of-mouth. Besides creating brand awareness, consumers may end up purchasing his other work (online or offline), relying on their previous experience with the content producer. It also serves as a testing ground in targeting new customer segments without incurring high expenditures.
Making content freely online does not necessarily mean that a content producer allows his work to be viewed for free. Rather, it attracts consumers by providing value. For instance, a musician may upload a studio version of his music but consumers still have to purchase his original album (Letang, 2013). Perhaps it is similar to the rationale of “Content Marketing”; blogs, research or any form of content may generate more inbound traffic to the site, creating higher quality leads with customized content.
Simply more than the eyes for consumers, a content producer may want to build a community network through sharing and exchanging views. Among the designers, Dribble provides opportunities to showcase and even allow free downloading of work (only with permission of designers).
While some organizations use free online content as a marketing strategy, some rely on advertising revenue to provide free content for readers. Yet suffice to say, the “free for all” online culture may soon find its way to implementation of paywall in the coming years and may have an impact on value perception (Lepitak, 2015). Clearly, there are some disadvantages in using free online content as a business model. There is little inventory for advertisements and consumers may be able to block advertising messages in the digital environment, resulting in a unforeseeable revenue stream (Picard, 2015).
(The Guardian, 2015)
A reference to the newspaper industry highlighted the downfall of free information by content producers. The business model may prove to be unsustainable due to the ease access of Internet. Readers are relatively Visitors as they surf the web for news and it is certainly challenging to retain them against many other free online news providers. Only by establishing a customer-oriented relationship will then create brand loyalty; which is attainable through subscription models. Readers will be more likely stay with the brand due to the exclusive content and services that are catered to them.
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Lepitak, S. (2015). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. [online] The Drum. Available at: http://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggests [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
Letang, S. (2013). 23 Content Marketing Ideas For Musicians, And What That Even Means – Music Industry How To. [online] Music Industry How To. Available at: http://www.musicindustryhowto.com/23-content-marketing-ideas-for-musicians-and-what-that-even-means/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
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Picard, R. (2015). The Business Outlook: Constraints on Growth, But Some Hopeful Signs in Digital News Provision. [online] Digital News Report. Available at: http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/essays/2015/the-business-outlook-2015/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
The Guardian, (2015). Tien Tzuo on paywalls and the subscription economy. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v0MLHQNqjQ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2015].
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