The business platform for digital media

Last chance to save US newspapers

Feb 01, 2016
Industry trends


By Kevin Anderson, The Media Briefing

Recently, journalist-entrepreneur Steve Brill laid down a beautiful rant in an interview with Poynter, the journalism education foundation in Florida. He was like-a-sledgehammer-to-the-face blunt, arguing that his efforts to save the industry from itself with a metered content service, Press Plus, were thwarted by small minded, third- and fourth-generation owners who were too “paralyzed” to deal with the competition from digital advertising and had failed to invest in quality content that people would actually pay for.

Continue reading…

Piano’s Industry Insights: Are Distributed Platforms Working?

Jan 28, 2016
Industry trends

Most publishers are now comfortable making their content available on distributed platforms. Some, like the Washington Post, put all their content on Facebook’s Instant Articles while others are more selective and parcel out their content more slowly. Does distributed content drive greater loyalty and by extension, greater revenue? And are the problems, poor metrics and poor monetization, inhibiting publishers from using these platforms? A number of articles look at these issues this week in an effort to gain a greater understanding of where publishers stand with regards to distributed content platforms.

Read more about what publishers are discovering  in this week’s Industry Insights, available now!

While ‘open’ Guardian faces financial meltdown, paywalled Times is breaking even

Jan 27, 2016
Industry trends

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 09.16.48Well, maybe the old subscription model has more legs than is given credit. In the UK, both the Times and the Sunday Times opted to put up an opaque paywall in 2012 while the Guardian went with the advertising model. Pundits were siding with the Guardian as it piled on page views and offered quality journalism for free. After three years though, there were grumblings from users about invasive ads and tracking software that has given rise to the ad block phenomenon that has dominated industry news since June, 2015.

The upshot? The Guardian lost  £100M in 2015 while the News Corp. publications appear to be profitable. What was once inconceivable in the Guardian’s HQs, a paywall, is now being discussed. Meanwhile the Times is adding for-profit digital subscribers and new low-priced apps to further drive revenue.

Click here to read Dominic Ponsford’s entire article.

Setting up a metered paywall III: Time period

Jan 26, 2016

This is the third part of a three part series by Piano Lead Data Scientist Roman Gavuliak that was posted earlier on Piano Media’s blog.

Setting up a metered paywall I: Estimation
Setting up a metered paywall II:Data Sources
To read all of Roman’s articles please click here.

Another question we frequently are asked is, what time frame is best for my meter? For the sake of convenience consider both a weekly and a monthly limit. Data reveals that most web page visitors generally consume more content on a weekly basis than they do on a cumulative monthly basis. This means a stricter weekly limit might impact more (even less regular) readers. The weekly limit also runs a lower risk of losing visitors because free article counts are refreshed every 7 days. On the other hand, the monthly limit imposes more pressure on users because if they deplete their limit too quickly, the waiting time to reset their meter is much longer.

The following summarizes the pros and cons of both limits:

+ More users might hit the paywall if the limit is set correctly
+ Lowers risk of losing users due to a shorter waiting time
+ More flexible, can be adjusted in shorter intervals
Weekends account for over 28% of all days within the limit
Irregular users are less affected
+ Higher pressure for purchase due to a longer waiting time for the meter limit to refresh

As shown, any advantage can also become a disadvantage based on how the limit is set. A metered paywall might seem as one of the easier options (besides hard locking all content) but it needs careful thought. When setting meter limits you should listen to the data rather than to your heart.

With a weekly meter limit, even users that only use up their free articles and leave the site after encountering a request for payment, generate on average many more page views because they read up to their weekly limit. The following chart shows three examples of the average number of paywall hits for users that never paid for two monthly and one weekly titles during a one month period.

meter limits

To make matters more complicated, there are several issues that haven’t been touched yet (the list is non-exhaustive):

* How will the conversion rate change after the first month or week? Will it ever stabilize?
* How does the price of a subscription affect the conversion rate? What is a reasonable price for a
subscription? How do I bundle my online and print edition?* How will users adjust their behaviour to the paywall over time? Will I have to adjust the limit?
* What is the ideal limit

Do questions like these keep you up at night? Get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to tell you more.

Piano’s Industry Insights: How Will Google’s AMP Affect the Industry?

Jan 21, 2016
Industry trends

As Google gets set to launch the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project next month, publishers are increasingly focusing on page load speed. Those who implement AMP will see a boost in search traffic from Google because their algorithm takes into account load speed when returning search results and those with AMP will load faster than those without. Google is also working with various companies to make sure that AMP pages will properly monetize, something that neither Facebook nor Apple’s walled gardens support. Piano is working with Google to spec out paywall integration with AMP.

Read more about what publishers are discovering  in this week’s Industry Insights, available now!