Monetize "Top Doctors" lists

How to Monetize ‘Top Doctors’ Lists

“Top Doctors” lists provide a valuable service to readers of city and regional magazines, helping them research the most qualified health professionals in their communities. But these lists are more than just a resource for patients. Increasingly, publishers are finding smarter ways to monetize “Top Doctors” lists, creating powerful new opportunities for revenue diversification in an industry that’s already under financial pressure.

“Best Of” lists have always been a traffic generator for publishers, both online and print. Readers love seeing the names of their favorite businesses, and businesses love seeing their name in print. “Top Doctors” lists are no different. Particularly in a day and age where anyone can post an anonymous review on websites like Yelp and Healthgrades, “Top Doctors” lists serve an important function by piggybacking on the solid reputations that city and regional magazine publishers have cultivated through years of unbiased reporting.

Here are the strategies top digital publishers are using to monetize “Top Doctor” lists on their own websites and print editions.

Creating the List

Generating a list of top doctors in a given area shouldn’t be hard. One of the most straightforward ways for digital publishers to handle this task is by setting up a survey on their websites and asking readers to submit their reviews. Having the list based on votes takes the pressure off the publication if certain physicians are upset about not being included, but it does offer an extra layer of work and responsibility for the publisher.

Another option is to open the voting up exclusively to members of the health community in the publisher’s city or region. Distributing printed surveys to physicians, nurses, and other healthcare workers is one way to gain insights into which doctors are providing the highest quality care.

That additional layer of work can be off-putting to some publishers, which is why a growing number of city and regional magazines are relying on outside firms to collect the information for their “Top Doctors” lists. For example, New York Magazine relies on Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., which publishes a database of top doctors in a number of metro areas each year. Castle Connolly’s rankings are based on peer-review surveys that licensed physicians are invited to take online.

Generating Revenue from “Top Doctors” Lists

Once the editorial staff puts together its “Top Doctors” lists, the publisher’s sales team can get to work finding opportunities for monetization.

City and regional magazine publishers have been able to monetize “Top Doctors” lists in a number of ways, starting with charging hospital systems and other large physician groups a premium for display ad space that runs on top of and alongside their lists. The closer in proximity the display ad is to the “Top Doctors” list, the higher the premium a publisher can charge.

An even better strategy is to sell a section sponsorship to a large hospital system. For example, rather than running banner ads from different physician groups on each page of the “Top Doctors” list, a digital publisher could sell exclusive rights to the entire section. Selling the exclusive rights might mean publishing banner ads from the same advertiser on every page of the “Top Doctors” section, or it might mean offering wallpaper ads—also known as full background ads—for complete branding of the section for a certain period of time. Health systems will pay a premium for this type of exclusivity, particularly in communities where two or more hospitals are competing for business.

Of course, selling exclusively to hospitals and other large physician groups leaves out a huge segment of medical providers who would be interested in having their information highlighted in a “Top Doctors” list. With the finalized list in hand, a publisher’s salespeople can call physicians who are included and ask if they would like to pay to have their listings highlighted or enlarged, or if they would like a photo to run alongside the listing. The cost for this is generally nominal, however, with hundreds of doctors listed on a “Top Doctors” list, the revenue adds up quickly.

Keep in mind, none of these suggestions put the integrity of the publisher’s “Top Doctors” list in jeopardy, because salespeople are not offering to include physicians on their lists in exchange for a fee. That would be unethical, and it’s not something that industry experts recommend. But offering to highlight listings for doctors who have been included on the “Top Doctors” list by their own merits is not unethical. In fact, it’s a similar tactic to what digital publishers have been doing with their business directories for years.

Whether publishers can effectively monetize “Top Doctors” lists depends largely on the willingness of their sales teams to get on board with the effort, along with how creative they can get in their ability to craft new strategies for revenue optimization. If you’d like more information about how other city and regional magazine publishers have been able to monetize their “Top Doctors” lists, feel free to reach out to our team at Web Publisher PRO.