What’s next in reader revenue?
(630) 739 9600
Where will you find your next digital subscribers? Is your tech getting in the way? Has your paid content offering stalled? Are you using all the new tools available?
In May, WAN-IFRA convened a group of Europe’s foremost reader revenue minds for a three-day summit in Frankfurt to discuss the latest developments in paid content and to chart the future course of paid content strategy.
Currently in Europe, models that involve recurring payments perform better than any pay-perarticle model. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2016, in countries with ongoing payments from readers, revenue per reader is higher.
And according to a recent survey from American Press Institute, subscribers are clearly signaling that publishers cannot cost-cut their way to growth. Attracting subscribers requires investment in premium news content and focusing on audience needs.
There is an even split between publishers who were using freemium and hard paywall, with most publishers having one or the other. However, one interesting development is that many publishers who were employing the metered model are now experimenting with what is called a hybrid model. Hybrid models combine elements of the meter and the freemium model. This allows for both maximizing ad revenue and being able to ascertain, and act upon, what types of content convert subscribers most efficiently.
Anna Careborg, head of premium for Sweden’s Svenska Dagbladet, shared developments at the national title. The meter, along with free trials, was introduced in 2013. In 2015, some additional premium content (marked on the site) was added to that. The reasons for moving to hybrid were that they realized their journalism was essentially seen as free, that it’s often very hard to explain a meter and that there was no clear value for their print subscribers to enter the digital world.
As a result, she says, they found that the top converting content is relevant journalism within the newsfeed, the useful stuff in readers’ daily lives. Content that gets users to log in (taking the first step to a subscription) included interest/ identity and digital only content like quizzes and crossword puzzles. Logged- in readers consume guides, arts content etc. Interestingly, Careborg found the need for multiple types of content. “Once someone is a paying subscriber, they love the arts coverage, but not enough to convert them in the first place.”
Heikki Siljamaki, development manager of content sales for the Finnish Kauppalehti, shared recent experiences at the financial title. The metered paywall was introduced in 2012 with three articles free, and then, upon registration, users got another 25. Two price points and differentiation between content online and in print. By 2015, the model reached a plateau. The meter strategy was then renewed; registration only was eliminated, as was the lower priced news-only product. Readers get five articles free per week, then they must subscribe. As with many pure meter models, it too began to plateau. Recently a hybrid model was launched, with three to five articles a day marked as premium. Their move is on track to double the weekly paywall hits, while attracting new trial users and leads for sales.
Understanding the audience
Kalle Jungkvist, WAN-IFRA principal consultant, lead much of the summit and often focused on the importance of “doing your homework” as a prerequisite for paid content success. “The winners in the media industry are the ones who know everything about their customers. Publishers must focus on their most loyal users and on learning as much as they can about them,” Jungkvist said.
What stories do your most loyal readers really engage in?
Why are people attracted to your publication and what kind of problems do the readers want to be solved?
When are the different types of content consumed?
Where, in which situation and on what platform is your content consumed? Who are they?
What converts readers?
Publishers must also spend time and set up processes to understand what types