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4 ways content platforms can be ad-free while maximizing revenue

Many content platforms have historically relied on ads to keep them running. However, today’s consumers are highly wary of online advertisements. A quarter of internet users currently have an ad blocker installed, and those that don’t may choose to abandon a website or content platform if the presence of ads is too intrusive.

This can be a tricky situation for content creators who use ad-based content platforms to publish their work and spread awareness for their personal or business brand, as well as for the content platforms and advertisers themselves. That’s why so many content platforms have sought alternative revenue models to ensure they can stay profitable while providing an ad-free (or at least minimal ad) experience for visitors. 

To get more insights on this topic, we asked the members of Ad Age Collective how they believe content platforms looking to maximize revenue can eliminate or minimize the use of ads on their platforms. From paid subscriptions to content partnerships, here’s what they had to say.

1. Create tiered subscription models.

Create a subscription or a tiered model to offer more value to readers who are willing to pay. If people are willing to subscribe, then you have a loyal customer base. With tiers, they are willing to pay more for your content. The website Medium engages in this form of tiers; they offer both free and premium articles, with three premium articles available to non-members per month.  – Duran Inci, Optimum7

2. Deliver augmented ‘bonus’ content from relevant sponsors.

The two drivers of content platforms are relevant content and zero disruption. For them to stay ad-free but add sponsor revenue, they must consider augmented content brought by relevant sponsors. Examples: alternate endings, camera angle from a participant, story behind the story — all brought in by the right sponsor. The additional content and the sponsors should be connected and relevant. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

3. Develop content partnerships.

Content partnerships are key. With the annoyance caused by ads, content platforms need to look to branded content partnerships to maximize revenue. Content platforms have eyeballs and brands want to get in front of those eyeballs, so there is a natural synergy between those two components. The key is to deliver branded content that is relevant (unlike ads) to their audience to maximize revenue. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

4. Offer valuable gated content.

There are a few ways to create revenue without using annoying ads. You can add affiliate links, create a referral program and make higher-value content available for a members-only program. You could also create an online course, a guide or a book and make it available for a price. You just have to be smart and create value with extra content to get non-ad revenue. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner