Many content portals did not learn from the dot.com crash at the start of this decade. "It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others."

There have been a spate of articles in the digital media press in the last two weeks exploring the declining revenues for online publishers, particularly those relying upon CPM advertising. Even News Corporation chief executive Rupert Murdoch chipped into the debate on 2 April by urging newspapers to charge for online content (Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is one of the few publications to charge readers to access its articles online).

Having worked in digital through the dot.com crash, when many publishers who depended on display advertising went to the wall, I was always perplexed by the desire by so many to jump at the chance to give away their content for free in exchange for income from CPM ads. Now that rates are falling through the floor, it is inevitable that publishers will look to subscription models.

However, as we all know, internet users have become addicted to getting content for free and if most sites start to charge they will invariably lose almost all their visitors. For that reason alternative revenue streams need to be considered.

The websites of many media groups already promote bingo and dating. These can provide additional income, but the fact is these services take money out of readers’ pockets. The white-label services that our client V A C Media provides, for cashback and voucher codes, are the opposite in that they actually put money into people’s pockets by enabling them to save money on their everyday shopping.

In these nightmarish economic times, services that not only generate revenue but benefit site visitors by saving them money are surely the holy grail and it is no surprise we have recently launched reward portals for the likes of Trinity Mirror, Newsquest, Northern and Shell, Daily Mail and General Trust, and other such media groups.

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