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Digital Subscriptions Best Practices. Tim Thomas SVP, Business Development. Industry Challenge. NAA says print ad revenue declined by almost 50% in past 4 years. Industry Response. Cut expenses. Fewer pages. RIF s. No promotion. Centralize. Industry Response. Cut expenses

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Digital subscriptions best practices

Digital SubscriptionsBest Practices

Tim Thomas

SVP, Business Development

Industry Challenge

NAA says print ad revenue declined by almost 50% in past 4 years

Industry Response

  • Cut expenses

Fewer pages


No promotion


Industry Response

  • Cut expenses

  • Change printing and delivery


Get out of the mail

Print others

Deliver others

Industry Response

  • Cut expenses

  • Change printing and delivery

  • Raise print prices

Single copy

Home delivery

Industry Response

  • Cut expenses

  • Change printing and delivery

  • Raise print prices

  • More digital ads and services

Ad mail





Video pre-roll

Industry Response

  • Cut expenses

  • Change printing and delivery

  • Raise print prices

  • More digital ads and services

  • Launch digital subscriptions







What do you have to believe?

  • We have unique, relevant content . . .

  • . . . That some people are willing to pay for

  • We have more page views than advertisers can buy

  • Digital subscriptions and digital advertising can co-exist

Use a metered approach

  • 8% of users generate 80% of your traffic

  • 80% of users view 1-5 page views per month

  • “Drive-bys” aren’t interrupted

  • Heavy users are the most likely to pay

Don’t be afraid to go low

  • Launched at 15 page views/30 days

  • Lowered to 10 page views after 9 months

  • Going to 5 page views this year

  • Intercept rate: 1.5% of users see the “Stop” box

Meter most of your content

  • Exempt home page, section fronts, classifieds, obits

  • Meter staff stories, photos, video pages, breaking news, wire stories, talk boards

  • When in doubt, meter it

  • Let the market decide which content is “premium”

Stop the leakage

  • Apps

  • Mobile WAP

  • RSS feeds

  • Content alliances

  • E-edition

Package “All Digital Access”

  • Desktop site

  • Apps – iPhone, iPad, Droid phone

  • HTML5 site

  • Loyalty site

  • E-Edition

Use trial pricing

  • Reduces consumer perception of “ commitment risk”

  • Automatically rolls to regular rate

  • Gets credit card number

  • Gets email address

  • Gets physical address for better “match” to print subs

  • High retention rate

Charge print subscribers for digital

(but at a much lower rate)

  • Establishes value right away

  • Digital has more content than print

  • Digital is real time

  • Conversion rate is about the same as registration

  • Keep the charge on the statement reasonable (<$20)

“All” new print starts to include digital

  • Introductory rate increased through most channels

  • % increase allocated to digital circulation revenue

  • Direct mail/FSI allows print-only start

Decide rules and process for

comp accounts

  • Exempt meter within your IP range

  • Remote access for news, sports, photo

  • Ad reps

  • Agencies

  • Large advertisers

  • Content partners

  • Other papers in your corporation

  • Execs

  • Bloggers

Set institutional pricing

  • Libraries, law firms, chambers, government, colleges

  • User ID/Password vs IP exclusion

  • Set annual rate per person

  • Higher per-person discounts for more people

Announce ahead of time

  • Publisher letter to readers

  • Press release

  • FAQs

  • Employees

Anticipate reader issues

“If you make me pay, I’ll just go somewhere else for my news.”

“Why do I have to pay for a digital subscription? I already pay for the paper.”

  • Establish FAQs and post on your site

  • Arm the newsroom and CSRs with FAQs+

Promote in all channels

  • Email marketing

  • Print ads, wraps and front page notes

  • Contest on loyalty site

  • TV spots

  • Kiosk and door-to-door sales

  • Direct mail and print inserts

  • EZ-Pay postcards

  • Subscriber bill inserts

Anchor homepage link to splash page

  • Up at launch

  • Makes it easy for people to buy

Pay Attention

[The 5th P of Marketing]

Watch your digital inventory to

ensure ad commitments are met

  • Used to having unlimited inventory

  • Higher targeting should mean higher CPM

  • Tighten up the discounting

  • Kill “value added”

  • Watch charity and house ads

Ad revenue grew

While adding a new revenue stream

So, come on in. The water is fine.