The part that comes after developing and distributing the savvy peace builder’s marketing content is the hardest part of the marketing journey: Deciding how to leverage content into a revenue stream.

The savvy peace builder will have a plan for how to generate revenues from content creation, curation and distribution systems for their business. The plan will be in place before going down the path of content creation. The plan will include benchmarks and timelines, so there are actionable tasks to accomplish the savvy peace builder’s goals.

In this post and the next, we will address practical pros and cons of the primary approach to monetization of content and we will address, philosophically and practically, the animating monetization model underlying most revenue generation with content on the Internet: advertising.

The philosophy behind advertising for many peace builders represents the dark side of marketing. Particularly marketing on the Internet.

Advertising—in the form of pop-up ads, ads inserted at the top of Google searches (Google Ad Words/Ad Sense), click bait articles on the Huffington Post or Buzzfeed, sponsored social media platform ads, and sponsored content— capitalizes the primary business model underlying many websites on the Internet: the freemium model.

The freemium model works because of the idea that produced content attracts audience interest (i.e. a blog/video/audio post, social connecting, e-commerce, etc.) and is free.

However, in exchange for that free access, the audience of users provides the content creator information about them (i.e. demographic data, click data, etc.). 

Then, the creator takes that data, aggregates it, analyzes it, and sells it to an organizational third party (i.e. government, corporate entity, etc.). The third party will use the data to market products and services to the original audience/user in the form of clickable ads on the website that the audience/user visits.

This model underpins all social media distribution platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterst, Twitter and LinkedIn. The freemium model underpins e-commerce platforms such as, Zappos, or EBay. The freemium model underpins many news and thought opinion blogs, which create and distribute long form content. The type of content many peace builders are committed to creating. 

Understandably, this model is troubling for many peace builders. There are multiple concerns in adopting the idea of using collected data from audience members, and then acting as an intermediary to a third party and selling access either to that data, or to selling the data out right. This model is rife with social justice, race, gender, and equity and access issues, as well as concerns about data collection and privacy and corporate/government surveillance.

In 2014, for The Atlantic Monthly, Ethan Zuckerman wrote an article that addresses the development of this model of the Internet. In the article, he talks about why it developed and offers suggestions to replace advertising as the primary way to get payment for producing and distributing something of value (a piece of great content). 

The peace builder creating content as the core of their marketing strategy should consider, what kind of content model they want from the beginning of their marketing journey. That way when third party buyers come calling (and if the audience grows large enough, they will) the savvy peace builder will have a firm answer.

Here are three important questions to consider when thinking about advertising:

Does advertising “fit” the content of my content development process, social media distribution plan and overall business philosophy?

Will advertising increase my credibility as a peace builder or will it erode my credibility with clients, audience members, fans, etc.?

What kind of third party buyers do I want to either create content for (in the form of sponsored articles) and/or to what kind of third party buyers do I want to sell my audience’s data?

Please feel free to contact me via email or explore my blog,  The HSCT #Communication Blog, as well as take the time to talk with me via Twitter, the HSCT Facebook Page or even connect with me via LinkedIn.

All right. Let’s get going…

By Jesan Sorrells

Jesan Sorrells is the founder, owner and principal conflict engagement consultant at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT), a boutique, private, conflict communication and corporate training consultancy, based out of Endicott, NY. HSCT focuses on delivering Christian based, alternative dispute resolution solutions in the areas of conflict communication, conflict skills development and conflict consulting for a variety of clients, including corporations, higher education organizations and nonprofits. HSCT accomplishes this by leveraging cutting edge, pioneering and entrepreneurial resolutions to conflict, communications, social media, and organizational development for its clients through trainings, seminars, workshops and 1-on-1 consulting.