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Online Magazine Subscription News: How One Publisher Succeeds

One take on online magazine subscription sales from the Times of London; plus, measurement, native advertising, and a publisher homepage comeback

Online magazine subscription tactics will key digital publishing strategy in the coming years, as advertising challenges like ad blocking and viewability could force small and midsize, regional and niche, publishers walled off by the likes of Facebook Instant Articles and Snapchat to shift to a membership model.

Luckily, most Mequoda Members already know that digital magazine subscriptions are a crucial component of a mutliplatform publishing strategy. The question is not whether to offer subscriptions, but rather what is the best mechanism or product with which to do so.

And you have options. 

Digiday examines how The Times of London is doing it. If there’s anything we love, it’s getting a sense of how successful publishers are approaching issues.

The Times of London’s Online Magazine Subscription Strategy

The Times of London takes a strong stance on paywalls, avoiding metered product, Digiday reports, and has found success.

“But it’s not opposed to offering a little variety, either. The Times has announced that, in order to court more readers overseas, it has launched an international app for a bargain-basement price. As of now, the Times’ 170,000 digital subscribers pay £6 a week ($8.50) for their package, which includes access to The Times and Sunday Times websites, smartphone and tablet apps. There are also 400,000 readers who pay for the print and digital bundle, according to the publisher,” Jessica Davies writes.

“Subscribers of The Times and Sunday Times have traditionally paid £26 ($37) a month, whether they’re domestic or overseas. But just over a week ago, the publisher rolled out its first international weekly-edition app, The Times of London, with the much lower price tag of £3 ($4.30) a month.”

This still represents a paywall, but offers consumers additional tailored product via apps people want.

Publishing Metrics for Multiplatform Media

Measurement and metrics can be a challenge for cross-media publishing companies, as platform distribution requires different types of content – or at least different presentations of that content – for different types of consumers … or, again, at least different types of consumption.

What does this mean for multiplatform publishers and digital advertising? Digiday takes a look.

Consumers are telling us loud and clear what they want—are you listening? How much would you pay for that information? Download a copy of our 2018 Mequoda Magazine Consumer Study for FREE instead, to find out how you can improve your digital magazine rapport with subscribers.

“Publishers, for the most part, are rushing headlong into distributing their content on far-reaching platforms like Facebook. Now they need to untangle a mess of differing metrics to figure out how to count their audience when there’s no single, third-party yardstick to measure it, platforms report back to them on different frequencies, and they all have different definitions of exposures,” Lucia Moses writes.

“As media consumption gets more fragmented, the main issue for buyers like Williams is just accounting for who’s being reached. That’s before they can get to evaluating a campaign’s performance, whose yardsticks can vary depending on the kind of environment they’re on.”

Guardian to Label Native Advertising Content Paid Content

It’s not sponsored, brought to you by, presented by, etc., for the Guardian anymore – now, it’s “paid content” when it comes to labeling native advertising, Digiday reports.

“The Guardian’s changes come just a month after the FTC issued stricter guidelines about how publishers should label their native ads. For one, the organization said that it’s not crazy about the vague “promoted” or “promoted stories” labels that are largely meaningless to readers,”  Ricardo Bilton writes.

“It’s not hard to understand why publishers have gone that route. As the rise of ad blocking shows, Web users’ aversion to online advertising is at at all-time high, which is why publishers are eager to stamp their ads with fuzzier, more vague terms.”

How Publishers Are Remaking the Homepage

Side door traffic has significantly cut into homepage traffic, of course, but this development has allowed publishers to experiment – and in some cases strengthen – their websites with a more adventurous portal, Digiday reports.

“It’s a big challenge to be a new media company and get your brand in the minds of users and try to get them to remember you,” Mic Product Head Anthony Sessa told Moses.

“One way we want to do that is through the vibrancy of the site and its unique aesthetics. It’s a way for us to capture users’ minds and get them to remember us.”

Looking for more on online magazine subscription strategy? Download our free Subscription Website Publishing Handbook today!

To read more about online magazine subscription news, visit Digiday.

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