How digital media outlets make money

Digital media companies tend to have more streams of revenue than traditional media. / Net photo.

Trends of the media industry’s revenue streams have been changing rapidly in recent years, with a majority of traditional media transitioning to become digital outlets; in pursuit of the available opportunities.

Today, 73 per cent of Rwandans have mobile phones, and 26 per cent can access the internet.


Millennials are used to accessing news online than via print or television. That’s good news for digital media companies, and it’s causing advertisers to invest more heavily in digital platforms than print.


The biggest difference in how traditional media companies and digital media companies make money is that digital media companies tend to have more streams of revenue.


Basically, any organisation that builds an audience from its content can generate revenue and profits in different ways amongst which were explained below.

Display Advertising

The most common way for digital media companies to generate revenue is by selling display advertising on their websites and email newsletters. Some companies sell advertising, with dedicated sales teams working with local businesses.

Sales teams determine different advertising packages that might include advertising articles, multimedia content and promoting products on social media. With this strategy, companies that have the largest audiences stand to gain the most by selling display advertising.

Subscription and membership

Subscription sales are an important revenue generator for media companies. Just like advertising, media companies with an extended audience tend to make more revenues with this strategy.

Media companies tend to have the most success with this strategy when they give readers a good reason to subscribe. For example, many online newspapers put articles behind paywalls, so only paying subscribers can see their content.

Sponsored content

With sponsored content, advertisers pay for content that runs alongside traditional articles on the newspaper’s website, social media channels, or in email newsletters. Sometimes the content is written by the publisher’s editorial staff and other times the content is submitted by the advertiser directly.

Affiliate Linking

Social media influencers are known for generating revenue by inserting affiliate links into their content, but digital media companies can take advantage of this strategy, too.

The most successful digital media companies employ a combination the above strategies. Some companies find the most success selling display advertising, while others have use subscriptions and membership programs. Publishers should be willing to explore new monetisation strategies, even if some of those efforts don’t work out in the end.

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