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Multiplatform Publishers Envision Apps & Paywalls Targeting Long-Term Value

The Economist seeks to continue its circulation growth with the launch of a new app; Multiplatform publishers at Bloomberg initiate a paywall; The Christian Science Monitor launches its paywall after an increase in digital subscriptions

More multiplatform publishers are seeing firsthand the value of subscription products and paywalls, which is why many new ones are launched. Today we’re looking at some of these paywall and subscription app launches, and the reasons these digital publishers are turning their attention to them.

We start with The Economist, which after experiencing significant circulation gain, launches a new app. Folio: reports [1], “The Economist is continuing to lean into its circulation strategy, unveiling today a new version of its subscription-based iOS app aimed at providing “long-term value” for paid subscribers.”

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“Meant to maintain a more curated and wide-ranging experience, the subscribers-only app includes a “Daily Picks” selection of stories chosen by editors—allowing the magazine to surface [3] stories readers otherwise may not find on their own—bookmarking options to save articles for later, check-marks next to articles that have already been read, estimated reading times, and streaming audio versions of articles.”

This app also brings back functionality that was in an older version. “The company adds that some features that were removed from the old version—like the ability to access back issues and a night reading mode—are being formatted for the new version and will return in an update.”

Our next story follows Bloomberg Media as it becomes another multiplatform publishing company to put premium content behind a paywall. Digiday reports [4], “Justin Smith, the company’s global CEO, said the company’s model is working well but that in a time of uncertainty for media, a paywall is another way to experiment.”

Smith continued in the interview to address why the organization wanted to launch the paywall. “The paywall is coming at a time of strength and when our existing model is working well. Since 2016, our audience grew by almost 100 percent to 93 million unique visitors a month. Digital advertising [5] grew 26 percent last year. We’re not feeling the pressures a lot of other publishers are. But you’re looking at the future of media. There’s Google and Facebook’s hold on digital advertising, and you’re seeing people’s willingness to pay. When you see this shift in consumer behavior, the growth in the category and how competitive our product is, it’s an opportunity that’s interesting. We’re still in this moment when people are constantly in flux.”

Our final story looks at Christian Science Monitor and its new paywall launch. MediaPost reports [6], “The Christian Science Monitor has reached 10,000 paid digital subscribers to its daily newsletter, The Monitor Daily, since it launched last year.”

Nieman Lab reports that to help hit 10,000 paying subscribers, the Monitor ramped up its email marketing efforts.”

The article continues with commentary from associate publisher David Grant on how the publication has been able to grow the subscription file [7]. “Rather than sending email solicitations that include discounts or special offers to potential subscribers, the Monitor sent out “40 to 50 op-ed-style, this-is-why-you-should-subscribe emails,” Grant added.”

“Grant said personal contact with readers also proved successful in converting them to paying subscribers.”

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