Subscription Publishing Takes New Routes As Industry Shifts Happen

subscription publishing

The Financial Times enhances its subscription publishing with Instagram Stories; Washington Post responds to GDPR with subscription rate hike; More digital publishers seek subscription-focused talent

Subscription publishing has gained popularity with media companies and brands alike because of its reputation as a renewable revenue stream. Today we’re visiting news stories of subscription publishers making new initiatives to enhance their subscription channels.

We begin today with the Financial Times, which is driving more subscriptions with the help of Instagram stories. Digiday reports, “The Financial Times has been steadily cultivating a following of younger, new audiences on Instagram after giving the platform renewed focus in 2016. Since then, it’s been linking back to its site through Instagram Stories, driving traffic and ultimately subscriptions.”


“Before Instagram Stories, the platform was limited to driving traffic back to publisher sites. Increasingly, media companies like the BBC and National Geographic are using links in their Instagram Stories to funnel audiences to their properties, mostly newsletter sign-ups, where they have a more direct connection and can monetize audiences more effectively.”

“According to data from NewsWhip, the average number of engagements — likes, shares and comments — on the FT’s Instagram posts between April 2017 and April 2018 was 2,703 per post, far outstripping the number engagements on Facebook, which was 201.”

Our next story visits the Washington Post and its new subscription policy. Digiday reports, “Some U.S. publishers have blocked visitors from the E.U. to their sites rather than comply with the wide-ranging General Data Protection Regulation to protect people’s online privacy. The Washington Post went an extra step and put up a paywall for E.U. visitors, upselling them to a $90 a year “premium EU subscription” in exchange for no ads — and the privilege of not having their data tracked. The premium subscription is $30 more than the cost of a basic online subscription to the Post.”

Their article continues by looking at the legality of this action, as well as the stances taken by other publishers in regards to the GDPR. “U.S. publishers have reacted to GDPR with various strategies. Some like Tronc have simply chosen to turn away E.U. visitors. Gannett’s USA Today is offering a bare bones version of its site that some are noting as a far better user experience. The New York Times does not appear to be running any programmatic ads. (The Times has not responded to requests to confirm this.) The Post is taking a novel approach in literally putting a price on taking data-tracking out of the media equation.”

Our final story discusses the evolution of subscription publishing and how the organizational needs and desires have changed to put more emphasis on audience and retention. Digiday reports, “Publishers are hiring chief customer officer roles in an effort to evolve into more customer-centric organizations. Now … decisions on subscription pricing happen at the executive level. A more common path is from the CCO to the CEO. But this skill set is increasingly in demand.”

“Business publishers have been in the subscriptions business for longer, charging higher prices for valuable information people can’t do without. More consumer publishers are turning to subscriptions, innovating with new products and exploring new revenue options. Bloomberg’s announcement of its consumer paywall this month, while it already has a healthy business subscription product in the Bloomberg Terminal, indicates the direction of travel.”

Do you want greater subscription publishing success? If you’d like to discuss how we can help you increase your audience, revenue and profits, please reach out to schedule a no obligation chat with a member of our marketing services team.


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