The digital publishing industry has reached a tipping point, where ancillary streams of revenue are worth more than traditional forms of online advertising. In this article, we’ll learn more about one of the newest strategies for revenue generation—local event listings.
Successful digital publishers are finding that the next step in financial success is to monetize local event listings.
An online calendar can become a linkable resource that keeps readers coming back to a digital publication on a regular basis. It can also become a valuable stream of revenue, particularly for publishers who are able to monetize local event listings. In order to do that, it’s important to understand how this business model works.
The Online Calendar Business Model
Online calendars are free, and they’re usually easy for experienced publishers to tack on to their existing business websites. Most of these calendars are focused on the local community or the industry the publication covers. For example, a city magazine publisher might launch an online calendar with city-specific event listings. Meanwhile, an online publication focused on the healthcare industry might launch a calendar focused on industry events and seminars around the country.
What these calendars have in common is that they all center around event listings, or entries. Individual event listings include information about each event, like the title of the event, the date, location, sponsoring organization, and a brief description.
Although the content in individual event listings has minimal value in terms of search engine optimization (SEO), these listings can still be useful for generating referral traffic and inbound links.
For the online calendar business model to work, the calendar usually must be tied to an existing publication. In the examples we mentioned above, the calendars were tied to online magazines. The larger the size of the existing publication, the greater success a publisher can expect to have with an online calendar.
How Publishers Monetize Local Event Listings
Digital publishers have been able to monetize local event listings in a few different ways. Although online calendars are almost always free to visitors, some publishers charge businesses to include their event listings. This is a strategy that works best for established publishers with popular calendars. Newer publishers with less website traffic are less likely to find immediate success with this strategy.
Less experienced publishers are more likely to find success in online calendar sponsorships.
Calendar sponsorships can take a number of different forms. Some publishers sell complete calendar sponsorships, meaning that a single business’ logo and advertising appear exclusively throughout the entire online calendar. Banner ads and other display advertising all prominently feature that one business sponsor.
Sponsorships can also be broken down by section. For a smaller price tag, businesses can sponsor the music section or the sports section of the calendar. Online calendars with location data built-in can also sell city-specific sponsorships, so a particular business’ display ads only show up when visitors search for events in certain locations. This strategy allows publishers to sell sponsorships to multiple businesses. However, since the value of a section sponsorship is less than a whole-site sponsorship, the total profit is usually about the same.
One of the most popular strategies among digital publishers right now is to monetize local event listings on an individual level. That means giving businesses a way to “enhance” or promote their listings for a fee. For example, a nightclub promoter might pay $50 per month to include additional images with his calendar listing, or a children’s museum might pay $100 per month to have its listings included on the main page of the online calendar.
Visitors come to an online calendar because of the value. Advertisers and sponsors come because of those visitors. If you are struggling to monetize local event listings, start by tracking your visitors and looking for ways to make your website more valuable. Do visitors want more listings? Do they want more details in each listing? Do they want an easier way to add listing information to their own personal online calendars? The answers to those questions should guide the process as you look for new ways to expand your online calendar and make it more valuable to readers.
Publishers have total freedom when they monetize local event listings. So long as they are using online calendar software that allows for that type of flexibility, and supports online advertising and monetization, publishers are free to design monetization strategies that work for their own businesses.
The online calendar business model is one that is easy for digital publishers to implement, and it can add value to a website with an existing readership. If you’ve got an online calendar that you’ve been able to monetize, or you’re struggling to make an existing calendar profitable, we’d love to hear more about it.