Subscription Business Model Series – Portals

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| Last Updated: June 09, 2015 |

Reading time: 3 minutes

Content subscription businesses are low-cost inventory ventures that can be started with little capital. Founders can start and run the venture from their own homes and still make a name for themselves in their chosen niches. Today’s subscription business model focus is on portals.

Portals are basically content hubs that offer a mix of aggregated, editorial and syndicated content. Both unregistered and registered users can access the content available at a portal without paying. The hubs may provide niche related content or may take an all-in-one approach, covering various niches. Yahoo is a good example of an all-in-one portal that has content spanning politics to sports, heath to entertainment.

User Content Personalization

While portals do not require users to register to access content, their monetization avenues depend on the demographics of their users. Advertisers may want to purchase user data for market research or advertise their offers on the portals depending on the user demographics. This is why most portals encourage users to register.

While portals will not put their content behind a paywall, they offer different experience to registered and unregistered users. Unregistered users will usually see marketing messages highlighting the benefits of registering. At times, some functions may be reserved for registered users only. For example, users may have to be registered and logged in to comment on articles, download various content, and so on.

Portal Content Generation

Portals are driven by content. The businesses strive to write search engine friendly articles to generate mass targeted traffic. The content is usually a mixture of in-house editorial content, aggregated content, syndicated content, guest posts, republished content and so on.

The companies may have paid contributors and may even accept content from guests. In most cases, the guest contributors are not paid. Rather, they are allowed to advertise their businesses on their author bios and link back to their websites.

Unlike the other content subscription business models we have covered, most of the portal subscription revenues come from advertisers rather than users. Advertisers can sign up to get access to market or consumer data , content reprints, access to conferences or events, newsletters among others. Some portals however offer premium content or services to their users.

Case Studies: Successful Subscription Business Portals

a) Forbes.com

Forbes.com is one of the leading investment and business portals on the Internet. With a network of 13 sites, Forbes offers users in-depth business analyses, interviews of movers and shakers in different industries, thoughts and opinion pieces from renowned business men and other high quality information.

Apart from the online portal, Forbes runs a subscription program for its offline publications. Users have to register through email or their social media accounts to comment on articles or subscribe to Forbes.

b) Daily Investing

Daily Investing is a niche portal that covers everything to do with stock investment. The portal offers daily tips, stocks news, stock numbers and offers in-depth analysis on performance of different stock.

The portal also offer premium services packages to users covering different areas. The subscription plans range from $5 to $497 per year. Apart from this, there are other quarterly paid subscription packages.

Success of Portal Content Subscription Businesses

To achieve long term business success, content portals have to getting many registered users. As a result, the businesses must find ways to generate high quality content at a low cost. Most of the content at portals is optimized to rank well on search engines. Moreover, while the portals may aggregate or syndicate content from other sources, they tailor them to match their unique voice that their audiences are used to.

Author of the post

John Solomon

Marketing Leader / Sales Enabler. Head of India Operations for @Infrascale / @sosonlinebackup.

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