4 cases of publishers pioneering with NFTs

23 November 2022
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NFTs have become less of a marketing ploy and more of a genuine revenue opportunity for publishers. They have diversified income streams for some, whilst others have struggled to capitalise on their potential. One thing’s for sure, they appear to be an alternative money maker for publishers. How have early pioneer publishers capitalised on their success so far?

20 Minutes making a magazine through NFTs

NFTs have huge potential to build communities. These communities are built on platforms like Discord and are closeknit and active. French publisher 20 Minutes launched NFTs to tap into this potential. By launching 999 NFTs, 20 Minutes built the world’s biggest magazine on Web3, 20 Mint. Each NFT featured a piece of generative art, alongside direct access to the 20 Mint newsroom. Their NFTs were priced at €280 each and the collection sold out in 15 hours.  

Following the drop, NFT holders became key members of the 20 Mint newsroom. Through a Discord channel set up for the project, NFT holders submitted articles and art they wanted to feature inside the magazine. NFT holders also acted as a sounding board for the Editorial team on their proposed articles for the magazine to give a true feeling of inclusion and community. This community saw the newsroom and NFT holders build deep, always on relationships and allowed them to have real input.

At this year’s Digital Growth Summit, 20 Minutes Editor-in-Chief Laurent Bainier provided publishers with 5 key lessons learnt from their NFT drop:

  1. It is still Day 0 for Web3 so it’s not too late to take advantage. The best time to start is now.
  2. The idea of leaving and giving power to NFT holders is scary, but it’s worth it.
  3. Dropping NFTs is scary. 20 Minute were lucky to sell theirs but not all share this luck. Don’t make your drop difficult.                                                      
  4. DAO is still a dream.
  5. Real revolution could be more in immersive worlds rather than Web3.

TIME going from NFT experiments to NFT experts

TIME Magazine are well known for the success of their TIME Pieces NFTs. Their TIME Pieces NFTs built on the rich visual history of TIME’s historic front covers and saw them launch over 30,000 NFTs of their magazine front covers. TIME Pieces generated $10 million in revenue and cemented TIME’s place as a serious supporter of Web3. Demonstrating their commitment to Web3, TIME have 7 people based across the world so that they can be active in their Discord channel 24/7.

Building on TIME Pieces, TIME just launched their latest NFT project, NFKey. The project see’s TIME partner with Mastercard, Salesforce and the City of Miami to launch 5000 NFTs from 56 Miami creators with 10% of profits going to charity. Miami’s Mayor Francis Suarez is deeply committed to Web3 and hopes to make Miami the Web3 capital of the US. He even takes his monthly salary in crypto. What’s different about this project is that TIME go in as the Web3 experts, a role they have been able to earn from their previous experiments. Interestingly, NFKey does not only take place in the digital world. NFT holders have been invited to participate in an exclusive launch party in Miami.

VP of Web3 Operations at TIME William Ban explained that publishers must prove their commitment to Web3 to be trusted, not just be there for a one-time thrill. William Ban powerfully demonstrated this point at the Digital Growth Summit by diving into the size of TIME across their different spaces. TIME’s magazine and website reach around 100 million people every month, but their NFTs reach around 50,000. This smaller number and the direct access that this 50,000 has means that they are more intimately involved with TIME. TIME are in Web3 to stay.

AJC using sporting success to trial NFTs

Atlanta Journal Constitution had been considering experimenting with NFTs and when Atlanta Braves won the Baseball World Series it provided them with the perfect opportunity. Following the victory, there was a significant increase in demand for AJC print products and Atlanta Braves coverage. So, AJC printed a special edition of their front cover which was in demand across the city. Alongside running greater number of printed editions to meet demand, AJC minted the front cover of 3 editions celebrating the success as NFTs.

The project needed a quick turnaround to meet the demand, so AJC went into the project being realistic and knowing internally it was an experiment. The most important outcomes for AJC were therefore learnings and new experiences. In this respect, the project was a success. AJC learnt how to mint and distribute an NFT, how to become more comfortable with emerging digital technologies and how to move fast, launching the NFT in just 5 days. Financially, the project was not a success, but this was never the aim for AJC.

The key learnings following the experiment for AJC came in the realm of audience focus. To promote the launch of the NFT, AJC added a QR code to the front cover of their edition hoping this would generate pickup. This didn’t work and AJC found that the overlap between subscribers and NFT buyers was not very big. Instead, AJC used paid social ads to target people with interests in Web3, crypto and sports. AJC learnt that they had to take the time to build a community presence and trust within the community of NFT collectors. Much like with everyday journalism products, focusing on and understanding audiences is key.

Le Parisien linking Web2 and Web3 through NFTs

French publisher Le Parisien launched their Crypto-unes NFTs based on historic front covers. The publisher made 1000 NFTs of 100 historic front covers showcasing Le Parisien’s rich history. Each NFT was priced at €160 for users already registered on the Crypto-unes waiting list, with the remaining NFTs selling for €199 each.

Each level of Crypto-unes has a different level of rarity, but these levels are unknown prior to purchase. 60% are common which allow users to have Discord channel access with the editorial team and a 12-month Le Parisien subscription. 30% are rare which allow users to have Discord channel access with the editorial team and an 18-month subscription. 10% are classified as unique which allow holders to have live discussions with the editorial team and a 24-month subscription to Le Parisien.

Le Parisien are using Crypto-unes as an early attempt to bridge Web2 and Web3, by offering a Web2 based subscription with their Web3 NFT. The NFT links with Metamask and unlocks the paywall as it recognises their subscription. To make this point further, users can buy NFTs with crypto or credit card in the minting process. Bringing together old and emerging tech helps users to gain a better understanding of Web3’s potential. Crypto-unes dropped on 26th October and have already sold out.

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