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Time to diversify? Why publishers must expand their revenue streams beyond the paywall

With research suggesting that subscription growth could be starting to plateau, media organizations must look beyond the paywall in search of new revenue-generating opportunities.

From affiliate marketing to data monetization, here we explore some of the ways you can diversify your revenue streams and achieve sustainable growth.

The role of AI in content personalization

The case for diversification

Relying solely on one revenue stream in an evolving media landscape is both risky and unsustainable. An economic downturn, unpredictable shifts in ad spend, changing algorithms, or a dramatic shift in consumer behavior can drastically affect your revenue, leaving you financially vulnerable.

What’s more, the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023 found the average proportion of people making payments to any online news remained at 17% for the second year in a row, while around 23% of readers are either canceling subscriptions or negotiating lower prices.
Statistics like these underline the urgent need for media organizations to explore alternative revenue streams that complement, rather than replace, the paywall.

Six strategies to diversify your revenue streams

From affiliate marketing to webinars and data monetization, there are plenty of ways publishers can cultivate more revenue streams. Here are just a few of them:

  1. Advertising and sponsorships – Embrace various ad formats (display ads, native ads, video ads) to minimize ad fatigue and create new revenue channels. Additionally, partnering with sponsors for branded content or events can create mutually beneficial relationships that also drive revenue and engagement.
  2. E-commerce and affiliate marketing – E-commerce and affiliate marketing are two of the easiest ways to diversify your earnings. By curating and promoting relevant products or services on your online platforms, you can earn commission on sales or leads generated through your affiliate links.
  3. Events, conferences and webinars – Hosting events, conferences and webinars can be an effective way to increase newsletter subscriptions, upgrade readers to paid subscriptions, and repurpose content. These gatherings also provide valuable networking opportunities for attendees, while offering sponsors exposure to a highly targeted audience.
  4. Voluntary donations and crowdfunding – Consider implementing donation-based models or crowdfunding to fund specific projects or initiatives. Appeal to readers’ support and goodwill to supplement revenue, as seen with The Guardian’s successful donation model.
  5. Leveraging digital content – Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in companies repurposing content into digital products like e-books or online courses for passive income. Digital audio, including podcasts, is also an effective way to reach new audiences and generate advertising revenue.
  6. Data monetization – As a publisher, your in-depth understanding of niche segments of your audience and their preferences is gold dust for advertisers. By sharing these compelling audience segments with advertisers, you can unlock the hidden value in your data and add another revenue stream to your armory.

For a more detailed discussion on how AI is helping to boost reader revenue, head over to the Revenue website to read the full article.

Lineup, together with our partners Chartbeat and Tubular Labs, are proud sponsors of Revenue – an exclusive series of media conferences designed to help publishers increase revenue and stay ahead of the curve. Tickets for the upcoming conferences in Berlin and Austin are now on sale – book your slot today.


Lineup Systems is the world's leading provider of media sales technology, representing over 6,800 media brands globally, including Gannett/USA Today, New York Times and News Corp. Amplio is Lineup's multi- channel audience monetization solution that helps media companies realize their full reader revenue potential, using data-driven intelligence to engage, nurture and monetize readers with personalized offers that increase reader revenue and reduce churn. Adpoint is Lineup's end-to-end multi-channel media advertising sales solution that helps media companies streamline operations, make better use of data, increase efficiency and boost revenue.

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