On 29 March representatives from news companies, consultants and technology suppliers from all over the world met in Paris to discuss the profitability of the news business. In their speeches, they gave their opinions about the application of successful strategies aimed at monetising online content.
The audience takes first place
The transversal theme of the event was the audience. Those attending agreed that the most important objective is to achieve readers’ engagement but to do so it is first necessary to implement an effective strategy for segmenting and analysing data. The second step is to identify the readers who are most predisposed to subscribing and to analyse their behaviour and how they interact with content.
This information is the pre-requisite for understanding what types of practices to implement in order to convert users into subscribers.
Depending on the readers’ behaviour, it is possible to send different types of content. For example, with somebody who is not particularly predisposed towards subscribing, you have to send him more content and more messages to subscribe. You can also adjust the price or the offers, depending on his predisposition.
As regards the role of the audience, the need to create a “genuine” and solid relationship with readers and potential subscribers was highlighted, thanking them for their commitment and rewarding them with an increasingly attractive offer of content to satisfy their needs.
The growth of new payment models
Disruptive trends and new ideas about monetisation was one of the most important ideas that those attending took away from this event. This includes, for example, concepts such as “Intelligent Paywall” or “Smart Paywall”, i.e. payment models based on knowledge of the audience which to date have proved successful in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal; or “PayGate”, a term coined by the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, which refers to a highly customised paywall, which has enabled it to increase its number of digital subscribers.
As regards ways of paying for subscriptions, various experts agreed that it is vitally important to facilitate the subscription process for users, particularly through hand-held devices. The Seattle Times, for example, explained how the introduction of different payment methods had allowed them to increase digital subscriptions by 19%.
The opportunity was also taken to talk about digital advertising and how knowledge of the audience has a fundamental role in managing more customised and effective campaigns.
Content is king
“It is necessary to produce customised content”. This was the basic premise of the debate about newsrooms as the main drivers of profitability.
On this point, the British newspaper The Guardian shared with those attending the different strategies that have led it to become a leading player in the global news industry, with more than 150 million unique users per month. As an initial strategy it decided never to close its content, but instead to ask its readers for a small contribution. At present, the Guardian has one million users who have backed it financially, a commitment that is directly linked to the premium experience offered to the audience: rigorous and quality journalism.
Other strategies mentioned were the sending of thematic newsletters and notifications, experimenting with podcast type formats, A/B tests and the production of content in special formats with an impact both online and in print. All these solutions are included in the technology offered by Protecmedia which makes it possible to create an adequate supply of content and obtain in-depth knowledge of users and potential subscribers.