How digital content models work

16314666601 e40d31dfb3 o
picture alliance/ Kai-Uwe Wärner

“This panel is about money” says Steffi Czerny and invites the panel on stage with the question - How can media people make money online?

Alexandra Suich (The Economist) moderates “a group of optimists” with regards to digital content models, as they all come from media outlets that are successful at creating revenue from digital content.

Kate Lewis (Hearst) says digital content creation is a field that persistently evolving. “We’re at the whim of Facebook right now, but how long will that last?” While Martin Clarke (Mail Online) says it’s all about big scales. Large numbers of viewers are necessary to survive in digital content. And Lockhart Steele (Vox Medie) shares that he is excited about new brand emerging that connect with a new audience which keep online content fresh and exciting. Peter Barron (Google) gives an example for how big digital content can create real revenue: Google generates 10 billion clicks to news sites a month, generating 9 billion US dollars a year. Barron describes this as a virtuous circle of traffic to websites.


Alexandra Suich asks the panel about the growing importance of videos in digital content. Are audiences becoming more visual and will switch to moving image content?

Lockhart Steele says Vox hired pure digital talents in the time of blogging. The new challenge is to find those same talents to create good video content. In general the panel agrees that videos have the potential to generate large and new audiences but the content creation is also more challenging. While Martin Clarke adds that long form journalism was alsways subsidised and is still not easily realised online.


Alexandra Suich represents the only publication on the panel that is subscription based. The Economist pushes subscription in print and online. She asks Kate Lewis why Hearst decided not to put a scubscription model on any of their outlets. Hearst argues that most traffic comes from social media referrals which would be redundant if the hoempages were blocked by subscription. Martin Clarke says “if you dont have homepage traffic you have not built a brand.”

The panel disagrees humourusly as the “giant” Mail Online can expect millions of of unique visitors with a reach across the world while others have to be a lot more focused on getting the searche engine hits and social media referrals right.

The session ends with a Q&A.

Mentioned in this live blog

Peter barron bw
Peter Barron
Director of Communications EMEA
Alexandra suich bw
Alexandra Suich
U.S. Technology Editor
San Francisco
Kate Lewis
Hearst Digital Media
SVP, Editorial Director
Hearst Digital Media
New York
Martin clarke bw
Martin Clarke
Lockhart steele bw
Lockhart Steele
Vox Media, Inc.
Editorial Director
Vox Media, Inc.
New York

All DLD15 Blogposts