Blog Media & Publishing

Why Publishers Need to Reinvent their Technology Ecosystems

Ruth Bennett

29 March 2023

In-demand news editorial products—from newsletters to podcasts and videos—give publishers a reliable way to become part of readers’ daily habits. These products also provide you with an opportunity to experiment with alternative topics and perspectives that appeal to specific customer segments, opening up new revenue streams. Plus, with the coming death of third-party cookies, the proprietary data these products generate will enable you to reclaim status with advertisers determined to reach the audiences you know well.

In order to support, maintain, and scale revenue-driving experiences, publishers must focus on the continuous value they provide to users, and take steps to reinvent their technology ecosystem, as it is through digital transformation that subscriber and revenue growth are possible.

Rigid legacy systems and workflows set in stone cannot provide the flexibility, monetization, and adaptation capabilities needed to power the products, programming, and services currently demanded by readers and subscribers. They result in complex workarounds, which waste time and cycles, and prevent sustainable growth as they cannot be scaled. They also increase technology debt – which you must eventually repay.

A technology ecosystem is a network of interconnected technologies that work together to provide a comprehensive foundation for doing business. As more publishers embrace digital transformation but are still grappling with dated legacy systems, it’s time to consider how your technology ecosystem must evolve to enable subscriber and business growth.

3 considerations for evolving a publishing technology ecosystem

To set the foundations for future success, publishers must transition from a static business model to a more sophisticated digital infrastructure. This transition becomes more urgent as innovative forms of content that enable diversity in revenue streams become more prevalent.

The following three capabilities are foundational for publishers making the transition:

Flexibility: Having access to integrated, visible, and contextual customer data enables you to pivot quickly to introduce new product offerings and monetization strategies to avoid the disruption of relentless change and market trends.

Monetization: The ability to create and configure pricing strategies as needed to bring new products to market in new formats, bundled offerings, tiers, and subscriptions—and then be able to reconfigure them quickly and easily as subscriber preferences evolve.

Adaptation: Your systems must allow for experimentation to test and refine editorial product offers quickly, while reducing risk. This includes the ability to establish guardrails and governance policies with ease.

With the above capabilities enabled, publishers have an ecosystem that allows them to pivot quickly to offer new subscription offerings as customer preferences – and economic conditions – change. Publishers capable of a speedy response during uncertain economic times can successfully retain subscribers and can find future growth through upsell opportunities as the economy strengthens.

One option to explore is consumption-based subscriptions, which enable customers to control their spend by only paying for what they use. Giving readers more flexibility over their subscriptions enables them to derive better value from the service, reducing churn.

While new products can be full of complexity – particularly consumption offerings, which require the ability to manage real-time usage data – such pivots are just business as usual when your technology ecosystem has a comprehensive billing platform at its core.

Adopt a middle-office mentality

As you move towards an ecosystem approach to technology, it’s important to understand that your billing capabilities are the functional core of your business. Billing lives in the “middle office” which enables the front office to smoothly execute commercial offers and the back office to meet compliance and operational needs. This includes providing complete visibility into customer accounts, product adoption data, revenue status, and more.

Your billing system is the engine that will enable you to overcome the challenges that stand in the way of future growth. This is because having the ability to provide easy, effective, and effortless customer experiences is a cornerstone for acquiring and retaining subscribers. The accuracy and completeness of your customer data is what allows you to pivot quickly as market trends change.

While your billing platform may be the conduit through which all customer data flows, it is dependent on external data to do its job. This means that your billing platform must integrate gracefully with other systems, as this flow of data between systems is essential for quick time-to-value, especially as external systems may run on different schedules.

Once you’ve realigned your technology ecosystem around billing and data flows, you’ll have greater visibility into your data, which will enable you to:

Make billing a strategic choice for your technology ecosystem

Businesses often consider technology for the tactical execution capabilities it enables. But for publishers intent on achieving sustainable growth in an industry that is in the midst of massive change, choosing a billing platform requires strategic consideration.

The ability to harness billing data to get creative with monetization produces strategic value. Your subscription and billing process—and the technology that supports it—enables you to offer digital products that are seamless and engaging, and to shift business models and subscription offerings in line with customer preferences.

Your technology ecosystem is not just a benefit for your organization, it’s a choice made to create exponential value for your customers as you can accurately map and manage a diverse and dynamic revenue supply chain. As product experiences take precedence over the products themselves, publishers enabled by a modern technology ecosystem built around a dynamic billing platform will have the data and tools they need to thrive.

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Ruth Bennett

Director of Content and Digital Marketing, Aria Systems. Ruth leads Aria’s content strategy and oversees the distribution of content via various digital channels. Ruth has 8 years of experience in the billing and monetization space, and previously spent several years in the publishing and education industries.

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