Subscription Website Publishing

How Amazon Is Helping Publishers Make Money with Video

How to make money with video on your own subscription website and beyond

Many multiplatform publishers have turned to e-learning platforms to make money with video and help subscribers either increase their skills or improve their lives. Publishers, along with many other organizations, such as universities and corporations, have found that text-heavy explanations of complex subject matter can sometimes make for poor user engagement. Some individuals simply digest information better through a more interactive format, and video offers the opportunity to engage audience using the same content in a different format.

Back in May, Amazon launched the Amazon Direct Video program, which is sort of like an app store for your videos and publishers are taking to it. Digiday summed up the offerings pretty well: “They can make their content available alongside thousands of movies and TV shows on the Prime streaming subscription service; sell their existing subscription streaming channels as add-ons; make individual titles available for purchase or rent; or make the content available on a free and ad-supported basis.”

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Each method has different revenue models. Revenue from Amazon Prime Video is 15 cents per hour in the US and 6 cents internationally. If you post your content for free, you get a 55% ad revenue share, which is the same as YouTube.

One example of a larger publisher using Amazon Direct Video is How Stuff Works. They have 500 videos on the platform and they say their revenue is about on par with what they’re making through ads on YouTube where they have about 2 million subscribers. They say they’re planning to mix up the revenue models between advertising, paid videos and rentals.

According to Variety, at launch, AVD partners included Conde Nast Entertainment, HowStuffWorks, Samuel Goldwyn Films, the Guardian, Mashable, Mattel, StyleHaul, Kin Community, Jash, Business Insider, Machinima, TYT Network, Baby Einstein, CJ Entertainment America, Xive TV, Synergetic Distribution, Kino Nation, Journeyman Pictures and Pro Guitar Lessons.

The difference between Amazon and YouTube is that people visit Amazon to spend money, they don’t head to YouTube to take out their credit card. So by publishing to this platform (where credit cards are usually pre-loaded into the system, much like the Apple app store), you already have visitors in the buying mindset.

How to make money with video and online courses as passive income

If you’re a producer of video content, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to look into Amazon Prime Video just as we’d suggest a magazine app publisher to look into the app store. Although Amazon takes a percentage, they are also giving you access to their much larger network and marketing channel absolutely free.

If you’re just heading into the seas of video or courses that you hope to create as a revenue channel, we suggest starting at home: your website where you get to keep 100% of the revenue.

A learning management system (LMS) allows publishers to create, edit, and manage learning material. This can be an essential tool if you want to provide e-learning or ongoing certification courses for customers. A good LMS will enable you to offer the courses, register, and accept payment, track course completions, and auto-renew subscriptions.

Some larger publishers, like Rodale and Penton, have changed their business plans to take the leap into e-learning platforms. But you don’t need to be a big publisher to make this worthwhile. Several niche publishers have made this change, as well.

To help other publishers take advantage of this opportunity, Mequoda created Haven Classroom as a learning management system specifically for publishers who want to take advantage of this business model. The system also includes integration with Wistia, a professional video-hosting service that includes analytics and video marketing tools.

Some of the generalized leading choices for learning management systems include Edmodo, MoodleTeachery, and Blackboard. Additional features like marketing automation tools and integration with your CMS and CRM also can be important considerations.


By Bill Dugan

Senior Vice President

Bill Dugan is Senior Vice President for Mequoda Systems and the Mequoda Systems Content Network which includes more than 60 websites and serves more than seven million daily email subscribers. Bill and his team market more than 200 premium subscription products including magazines, newsletters, memberships and clubs for systems that include the Biblical Archaeology Society, Cabot Wealth Network and University Health News. Bill is a veteran subscription marketer with more than 30 years of experience. Prior to joining Mequoda Systems, he held senior positions at a number of leading subscription marketers including Center for Science and the Public Interest, publishers of Nutrition Action, the world’s largest subscription-based premium health advisory service.

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