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Paying for Digital News: The rapid adoption and current landscape of digital subscriptions at U.S. newspapers

Mar 02, 2016
Industry trends

By Alex Williams, American Press Institute

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Newspaper publishers in the United States have moved rapidly in recent years to create subscriptions for digital access to their news, and according to an in-depth analysis the landscape is converging around a couple leading models and price structures.

As the traditionally dominant revenue streams of print and advertising come under pressure, almost all newspapers are looking to their readers to contribute more. As of 2015, 77 of the 98 papers we examined have some form of a digital subscription plan that requires readers to pay for unlimited online access.

Seventy-one of those 77 have been launched within the past 5 years.

This exponential growth would have seemed unfathomable in 2009. Publications like The Guardian, The New York Times, Time Magazine and The Atlantic published op-eds questioning whether readers would be willing to pay for news online — and whether digital subscriptions would cause steep losses in readership and digital advertising.

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Editorial Analytics: news organizations embracing analytics and metrics, but most have far to go

Feb 29, 2016

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News organizations are increasingly embracing the use of analytics and metrics as part of editorial decision making, but what constitutes a sophisticated analytics strategy? And why are so many media organizations still using such a rudimentary approach to analytics?

A new report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism looks at which organizations are building a competitive advantage over less advanced competitors through a better understanding of their audience, and what lessons others can take from their approaches.

Piano believes that analytics are one of the ways that publishers can more effectively engage with their audiences, segmenting users into cohorts and checking messaging efficacy with sophisticated multivariate testing. To learn more about our software, please check out our VX product page.

If you wish to read the entire report, you can download it.

Industry Insights: The Independent ditches print

Feb 18, 2016
Industry trends

It came as a surprise last week when the owner of the London quality daily, The Independent, announced he was shuttering the paper’s presses and going fully digital. Given the loss of print advertising revenue, declining subscriptions and sinking CPMs, is this really so shocking? Digital is cheaper to produce, there is no paper, no ink; there are no printing presses, no delivery trucks. By dumping print the Indy extends its opportunity to produce quality journalism and if you compare journalism to music, it make sense (from vinyl to MP3s). Let’s hope the Lebedevs are true to their word, reinvest the money they receive from the sale of the Indy’s sister paper i, back into the digital Independent.

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

Industry Insights: Are micropayments the next big thing?

Feb 11, 2016
Industry trends

With the rise of ad blocking, more publishers are considering micropayments as an alternative revenue stream. However, the solution to the primary barrier that deterred publishers from micropayments previously, decision fatigue, has yet to be found. Readers already bothered by tracking software and invasive ads will not spend time deciding whether an individual article is worth paying for. Until digital wallets or some other paradigm defines an easy micropayment standard that eliminates constant decision making, micropayments remain a hopeful dream rather than a real revenue stream.

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

The trouble with growth

Feb 10, 2016
Industry trends

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By Damaris Colhoun, Columbia Journalism Review

A VOLATILE MARKET, plunging tech stocks, and fears of a looming recession (or at least, a major correction) are sending jolts through the media world. Last week Bloomberg reported that in December The Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund had cut Snapchat’s holding by 2 percent—its second write down of Snapchat in three months—and that Yahoo had reduced its valuation of Tumblr by $230 million, amid cost-cutting plans of its own. Meanwhile, The Guardian News & Media, publisher of The Guardian, recently announced it’s looking to cut more than $70 million in costs over the next three years, after losing more than that in 2015—despite its vast of flows of traffic and digital growth.

For media start-ups running off the fumes of their VC investments, and legacy newsrooms making the move to digital, these stumbles are a crucial reminder that traffic alone won’t keep them out of the red. As digital ad sales soften, investing in other channels of revenue—be it  branded content, events, membership programs, or paywalls—will become increasingly important. These recent tech market tumbles also point to the trouble with growth: namely, that unless it generates revenue, it may not have much value. Not when investors are getting nervous and tech unicorns may be facing leaner times.

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