Media companies have long been at the forefront of trialling telemedia tools to deliver value added services. Now, with ad revenues dropping, the media is taking it seriously. Paul Skeldon finds out more
Value-added services that can be propelled by telemedia services such as carrier billing have long been touted as something that the publishing and media world could leverage. And, to be fair, we have seen many trying it. However, right now, it seems that media is more interested than ever as it looks to tap into the increasingly mobile – and increasingly fickle – consumer base.
According to research into carrier billing use for VAS conducted by Mobilesquared for Telemedia magazine (see page 1), publishing currently only accounts for about 8% of VAS spend, but it is on the up – and there are some key offerings, particularly around coupons, that are making it happen.
“VAS alters depending on who you ask,” offers Mark Challinor, CEO of Media Futures. “What is value added for existing readers and viewers: if you subscribe already, do I give you more or is the value added service a service to deliver new people to the publication?”
The two things require slightly different approaches, but the key thing is, says Challinor, is that they are adding value.
Of course, newspapers have long been offering added value with reader offers and holiday deals, products tailored to their readership and which the publisher takes a cut. But, today, with data and AI how this happens is getting smarter.
Understanding what readers want can be now done on an almost personal basis based and, with readers and viewers being increasingly mobile, it is creating a range of new monetizable services that can be delivered using telemedia services – not least carrier billing to pay for snacking on this content.
“Podcasting and downloadable content that is ideal for mobile are increasingly popular as they are ideal for download, can be personalised and they can be sponsored,” says Challinor. “Similarly, newsletters can be turned into a monthly paid for service that adds value to the perhaps free or free-mium main news content and again can be personalised.”
Challinor also sites monetising social media as another area of VAS interest for publishers, but that it may not necessarily be just about money. “I think much of this may well be ‘monetised’ for data rather than money,” he says. “Newspapers have a lot of data and data is what really underpins the value added services model these days.”
Coupons and beyond
It is early days for truly exploiting value added services, but many are already trying. While the dream is to deliver personalised mobile homepages and individually targeted experiences, one area that is working in the here and now is in couponing.
“Almost all ecommerce sites today feature and ‘enter discount code’ box at checkout,” says Challinor, “and so shoppers go off looking for one. If those discount vouchers are on your site then they are potential new users coming to you.”
For this reason, coupons are starting to become important to media. Couponing has become really popular with publishers worldwide. It requires less work and it bring s a new audience and is a big revenue stream.
There are many brands who want to boost sales and find new customers and they do that by discounting using couponing. Affiliates can link these coupon ‘ads’ to publishers, effectively providing the link between the brand and the publishers. All the publisher has to do is create a sub-domain and it runs itself – the publisher taking a cut and, potentially, getting a new audience.
“All the media company has to do is choose a carousel of their hero brands and off they go,” says Challinor. “It brings a new audience to the publisher’s site, who may subscribe or engage from there. The publisher can then add in more value added services – such as dating (see page 16) – once there.”
And it doesn’t end there. This is just the start, believes Challinor. “It’s big potential going forward is mobile. The future lies is voice activated and geo-fenced coupons that can help link media and driving people to stores, with the all the brand halo effect that produces.”
HEAR MARK CHALLINOR TALK ABOUT VALUE ADDED SERVICES IN MEDIA IN THIS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW