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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!

Piano Expands Team, Hires Slovak Tech Evangelist and Senior Software Architect

Jan 20, 2016
Piano news

New York, Jan. 20, 2016 – Piano, the world’s leading provider of e-commerce SaaS software to media companies, has added to its team in Bratislava, strengthening its Technology and Product Development capabilities with the hires. Piano’s platform includes the Web’s most sophisticated visual segmentation engine and audience analysis tools and is deployed by more than 1200 websites worldwide.

Ivan Debnar, the founder of Slovakia’s largest search engine Zoznam and founder of the Bratislava Startup Incubator, “The Spot,” is a digital native. He started Slovakia’s first Internet Café in 1996; created one of the country’s first ISPs before founding and running, Slovakia’s biggest native search engine; and was CTO at Azet, Slovakia’s largest online portal.

Tomi Vanek comes to Piano from Accenture where he was a Senior Software Architect leading projects from The Walt Disney Company, T-Mobile and the US Government’s Web-portal.

Trevor Kaufman, Piano’s CEO said, “I couldn’t be more thrilled about both Ivan and Tomi joining the Piano Team in Bratislava. Ivan has an amazing background and is extremely well connected to both the local and regional IT and startup communities. Tomi has an incredible track record, working as a consultant for Accenture on complex and critical projects for major companies like Disney and T-Mobile. We are extremely excited that they are joining us to help expand Bratislava’s role as Piano’s leading development center for audience data and analytics.”

Piano is a global software firm that resulted from the mergers of New York-based companies Tinypass and Journalism Online and Bratislava-based Piano Media. Piano Media is one of Slovakia’s startup success stories, having started a nation-wide subscription systems for Slovak, Slovenian and Polish newspapers, and then successfully pivoting to focus on subscriptions for individual publications and data analysis.

Piano is now the most deployed e-commerce for content platform in the world. With clients in 19 countries and over four billion page views under management, the company continues to expand its tech development center in Bratislava, hiring talented analysts and developers who are skilled in developing data products. Piano employs more than 110 people, including 80 product and tech developers in its European and American offices.

Google launching AMP at the end of February

Jan 19, 2016
Industry trends

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 09.40.02

Frederic Filloux at the Monday Note writes this week about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP); how it will take a chunk out of both Apple’s and Facebook’s walled Gardens and how it incorporates with paid content. Google expects the system to have rapid take-up among publishers and will spread even more quickly as as specifications for more mobile components become available.

For revenue streams with AMP, most ad servers will work although Google will constrain the formats allowed in AMP. Paid content will also be incorporated into AMP, Google is working with both publishers and paywall providers to make sure that the most popular E-commerce system, the meter, will function properly. This project enables users to have a better mobile browsing experience while making sure that publishers retain their revenue from their engaged users.

You can read Filloux’s entire article here.