Check out these top strategies to monetize restaurant reviews.
Texans love good food, so it was only natural for the most well-known city magazine in Dallas, D Magazine, to dig into the local restaurant scene with reviews, guides, and stories about top chefs and notable openings. Like other top publishers, D Magazine has been able to monetize restaurant reviews and use its coverage of the local dining scene to keep readers on its website for longer.
For digital publishers, restaurant reviews can mean big bucks, particularly when content is properly harnessed and utilized in strategic ways. Here’s how to monetize restaurant reviews, based on the strategies used by some of the top publishers in the business.
5 Ways to Monetize Restaurant Reviews
1. Display Advertising
The first step in being able to monetize restaurant reviews is to sell display advertising alongside reviews and other dining content. Publishers have the option to sell their own advertising or to work with a larger ad server, like Google Ad Manager.
Selling ad space through a platform like Google is generally the easiest and fastest way for a publisher to monetize restaurant reviews, however there is more money to be made by selling display advertising space to businesses directly. Restaurants, especially local restaurants in the surrounding area, will pay a premium to have their ads run alongside restaurant reviews.
2. Sponsored Reviews
Publishers can charge restaurants a blanket fee to publish their own content, whether that’s a review or an article, under a “Sponsored Content” heading. Sponsored restaurant reviews can been tricky to navigate as a publisher, however most publications are comfortable running this type of content so long as the applicable disclaimers are posted.
The best place to start, as you look for restaurants that would be interested in paying to sponsor a review, is with your current advertising roster. Call up the businesses who run display advertising on your website and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring a restaurant review. Obviously, restaurants are most likely to be interested in this type of content, but businesses that cater to restaurant customers—for example, movie theaters or cooking supply stores—might also be interested in this type of advertising deal.
To connect with larger restaurant brands about sponsored reviews, check out online networks like Foodie Blogroll and FoodBuzz.
3. Online Directories
Top publishers are creating their own online restaurant directories, and then making money by selling advertising in their directories and offering paid directory listings.
Using the restaurant reviews you’ve already published, you can quickly populate a local restaurant directory. In addition to basic information—like the name, address, and phone number of each restaurant in town—your directory listings should include links to any reviews or other articles that have been published on your website.
4. Guides & E-Books
Being able to monetize restaurant reviews is really about finding as many ways to make money off the content as possible. So far, we’ve talked about selling display advertising alongside the reviews, using the reviews to populate online restaurant directories, and now we’ll get into the art of packaging restaurant reviews to publish in city guides and e-books.
People visiting your city, or people who have an interest in the restaurant scene, will pay for books with information about all of that city’s top dining establishments. It doesn’t even matter if most of the content in your e-book is already available online for free. The real value in a city dining guide is that the information is packaged in an easily-digestible way, so readers can quickly flip through and find information about any restaurant they’re thinking about visiting.
Whether these guides are in printed or in electronic form is up to you. The easiest way to get started is typically by using a service like KDP by Amazon, however you can also check out services like Lulu and Smashwords to publish and distribute books in electronic format.
5. Members-Only Access
Lots of news publications have paywalls up, requiring readers to subscribe before they can access certain types of content or sections of the website. Digital publishers who are interested in new ways to monetize restaurant reviews can place paywalls around their dining sections.
In addition to offering basic website subscriptions, larger publishers can offer dining section-only subscriptions, so readers who have a vested interest in the local dining scene can access reviews and other dining information without paying for the full price of a regular subscription.
The amount you charge for access to your website’s restaurant reviews or dining section is dependent on how much content you have and how much your readers are willing to pay. In most cases, we wouldn’t recommend charging more than $5 or $10 per month for access.
If you’d like advice on how to monetize restaurant reviews in your own publication, we’d love to help.