Subscription Websites: Offerings and Requirements are Getting More Complex

Condé Nast U.S. expands subscription business; Amazon’s subscription service becomes an option; Subscription websites need to utilize ads that don’t violate rules

Subscription websites expand in a multitude of ways. Of course, as expansion takes places, there are always other issues to address. However, sometimes the levels of expansion are significant, and major multiplatform publishers can take advantage of the opportunities.

We begin today with Condé Nast U.S., which is adding subscription boxes to its arsenal in the hopes of galvanizing its other business. Digiday reports, “A healthy subscription box operation can help publishers shore up print circulation, drive e-commerce revenue and deepen relationships with advertisers and other marketing partners. So a publisher like Condé Nast, which has a big database of women that have read or previously subscribed to other titles, sees opportunity.”

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“The company is shy about how many subscribers it currently has, but as of early last year, it had over 30,000 of them, and, per Friedson, it’s a slim but profitable operation. Three people are in charge of sourcing the products, a full-time editor is responsible for producing a booklet inserted into each box, ten other full-time people are dedicated to marketing the boxes across several departments, and a team handles fulfillment. The company rents a warehouse as well.”

Condé Nast is also connecting the digital touch by connecting an email campaign with the subscription box. “The company also sends out an email newsletter that includes affiliate links to the products featured in each box, and Allure gets a piece of each sale. That newsletter, which has an open rate of 46 percent and a click-through rate of 15 percent, has also been the biggest growth driver for the boxes.”

In other news, subscription websites have a new subscription provider to work with. Its name is Amazon. Publishing Executive reports, “The world’s largest bookseller recently made two moves that could open new opportunities for magazine publishers, so it’s a good time to consider what’s afoot in the Amazon.”

“It was recently revealed that TNG, the U.S.’s largest newsstand distributor, has a deal to supply magazines to Amazon’s rapidly growing chain of bookstores. That’s a switch from Amazon’s web site, which doesn’t really have a home for single-copy magazines.”

Furthermore, Amazon is also taking into the digital subscription world. “Amazon announced its Subscribe with Amazon marketplace that will supposedly harness the power of Amazon’s recommendation engine and customer data to help companies sell digital subscriptions.”

However, it seems that the new Amazon marketplace can provide value in a variety of subscription products. “For publishers, perhaps Subscribe with Amazon will not be so much about selling magazines as it a pathway to monetizing such “non-magazine” offerings as premium web sites, online courses, newsletters, downloadable data, archives, etc.”

Our last story focuses on regulations that subscription websites must follow if they choose to place ads with Google. MediaPost reports, “Google announced on Monday it will enforce new ad policies by removing advertisements on its AdSense ad network and DoubleClick ad exchange when publishers violate the rules.”

“The change appears to categorize content on a publisher’s site by page, rather than by Web site domain. The definition of content extends to photographs, videos, cartoons, drawings, paintings, and sculptures, among other things.”

Additionally, Google is trying to make the process easier for publishers who are working on fixing any advertising issues they have. “Google also will launch a Policy Center to make it easy for publishers to tell Google when policy issues have been resolved and their pages are ready for review. The dashboard for publishers using AdSense will let them understand and monitor whether their ads comply with Google’s policies. Later this year Google plans to add Policy Centers in other publisher platforms in addition to AdSense.”

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