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This article was published on October 11, 2013

10 unusual ways startups can monetize their digital properties

10 unusual ways startups can monetize their digital properties
Scott Gerber
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Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at

Looking to bring in some extra cash and extend your startup brand? From brand licensing opportunities to renting digital space, there are some creative revenue opportunities out there if you just know where to look.

To learn more, I asked a panel of 10 successful young entrepreneurs the following question:

What’s one unusual way startups can monetize their digital properties that’s worth exploring?

Here’s what they had to say:

Kevin Tighe II1. Exploring brand licensing

There is huge monetization potential, as well as numerous benefits, in brand licensing. As startups build their digital brand, reach and influence, they can extend their brands into new verticals and create new revenue-generating opportunities through brand licensing. It is not for every type of startup, and the world can be a bit tricky to navigate.

The good news is that licensing agencies and licensees have seen the licensing potential in digital with the success of platforms such as Angry Birds. They are looking for the next big brand, and that could be yours.
Kevin Tighe II, WeBRAND


Logan Lenz2. Offering VIP status to customers

It’s one thing to be a passive consumer of a brand’s products. It’s another to become a fully vested brand advocate.

For these cases, a brand should consider opening up a membership option that allows more dedicated customers to engage with the brand in a more valuable way. Monthly product subscription models have worked, but so have more minor elements such as “free shipping for life,” “discounts for life” and early access to purchase new pilot products before they are released to the public.
Logan Lenz, Endagon


Jay Wu3. Renting digital space to strategic partners

Businesses monetize office space by renting out extra rooms. Rent extra pages on your site to noncompeting business partners. They’ll be happy to create relevant content for your site if it means driving traffic to their own.

Renting digital space works best if you already have high page views. You also need to be active in vetting partners; you want to rent to businesses that will create content with the overall tone of your site without directly competing with your message or products.
Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery


Yuriy Boykiv4. Engaging in partnerships

Many talk about partnerships, but few actually explore that route to the fullest. If I have a video-sharing service online and someone has a dating site, we could be a match made in heaven. The problem is that entrepreneurs know it, but they don’t take the time to fully implement partnership programs.
Yuriy Boykiv, Gravity Media


Phil-Laboon5. Being interactive

The Internet today has evolved from a mere file-transfer medium to a completely new interactive community. With simple tools including, you can share computer screens with anyone online and effectively provide webinars. Being able to inform your prospects about the services you provide is a great start.
Phil Laboon, Eyeflow Internet Marketing


Fehzan Ali6. Investing in advertising

You can effectively monetize digital properties through different advertising-based solutions. Doing so allows startups to generate revenue from advertisers rather than directly charging consumers.

Content locking is a trending advertising solution. Content locking allows consumers to access a publisher’s premium digital content by participating in a short advertiser-sponsored offer. The publisher earns significantly higher eCPMs than traditional advertising solutions offer.
Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC



doreen-bloch7. Surveying to access premium content

Web-based startups can monetize their traffic by requiring readers to complete a survey or respond to a market research question in order to access premium content. Google is facilitating this kind of monetization for publishers at scale.

Survey responses allow a company to generate revenue while allowing consumers to access premium content outside of a traditional subscription fee payment structure. Market research is an innovative way to monetize an audience.
Doreen Bloch, Poshly Inc.


Brett Farmiloe8. Selling an e-book

Selling an e-book on digital properties does three things: positions your company as the expert, gives you a customer acquisition tool (free chapter for email subscribers), and allows you to monetize something. I have done an e-book before, and I recommend startups try to use an e-book to accomplish one of these three goals.
Brett Farmiloe, Digital Marketing Agency


Erik Severinghaus9. Monetizing the value of an email list

We are experiencing an era where intangible assets constitute an increasing percentage of a company’s balance sheet value. Assets may be more esoteric (brand equity and customer sentiment) or more tactical (email lists, Twitter followers, and Facebook “likes”).

For example, if company A and B are otherwise identical, but company A has an email list with 5 million opt-in addresses, surely company A is worth more than company B. Companies should monetize the value of their email lists.
Erik Severinghaus, SimpleRelevance


Scott Austin10. Incorporating relevant ads

Some startups are getting really innovative with incorporating ads into product experiences in a nonintrusive fashion – sometimes where the ads even improve the user experience.

Kiip is an excellent example of this. It allows advertisers to reward game and app users during moments of achievement with gifts from their companies. For example, PepsiCo sends MapMyRun users a free bottle of Propel when they hit a certain distance milestone on their run. I think there’s a great opportunity for lots of product-based startups to adopt advertising strategies along the same tangent.
Scott Austin, Porch


Top image credit: rangizzz/Shutterstock

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