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The late aughts saw the beginnings of the paid content industry with Press+ leading the way. They didn’t get much traction until the New York Times launched paid content, but then the industry took off. Steve Brill and Gordon Crovitz were co-founders of Press+ (purchased by Piano in 2014) and Poynter’s James Warren interviews Brill about what happened back in the early days of paid content and where he thinks the industry is headed now. It’s a fascinating read.
2015 will go down as an amazing year for Piano. We started the year as two companies in our highly competitive space, merged, and ended as one really strong company in our highly competitive space.
For Piano, 2015 was the year that magazine publishers decided to step up to the paid content table and ask their subscribers to pay.
Time Inc. was the first of the big American publishers to start using our incredible VX platform, installing it on, of all magazines, Entertainment Weekly. They liked the versatility of the platform so much they quickly started using VX on their flagship publication, Time Magazine.
Hearst was another major American publisher that turned to Piano for software. Esquire, a men’s magazine that has published some of the most prolific and creative journalism and fiction over the past 100 years, is using VX to monetize their archive.
As soon as magazine publishers see VX and are introduced to Composer, our revolutionary tool that enables them to build a rules-based subscription management system in hours without the help of their IT departments, they know that this is the future of the industry and clamoring to jump aboard.
And they aren’t wrong. Piano ended up 2015 with more than 1200 websites using our software in 19 countries. We have over 4B page views under management and are generating more than $30M in revenue annually.
We think that 2016 is going to be even better, the year of OTT streaming.
We signed OTT client NBC Sports who used VX to monetize their streaming subscriptions for the 2015 Tour de France with NBC taking home the maillot jaune!
Another OTT client was AmericaTV from Peru. How would South American broadcaster drive subscription revenue? Well, they asked us the same question and we showed them some very convincing information from our data warehouse that has more than four years of accumulated media user data. Now AmericaTV is one of our fastest growing clients, adding subscribers and growing revenue that will help them develop new programming and keep their audience informed well into the foreseeable future.
What keeps media companies beating on our door? Some of it is our software and some of it is our team, led by a super focused CEO, Trevor Kaufman who has extraordinary vision; values beauty and talent and refuses to settle for anything less than the absolute best.
Our software reflects his vision with beautiful, intuitive dashboards that let our clients easily understand their data and take market actions quickly and simply. We are also finishing products that will be best-in-class, like AI that will give publishers the data they need and focus insights in the two areas most valuable to our clients’ business: loyalty and advertising. We are reinventing the data consumption experience with new key metrics, layers in context and results presented in intelligent, novel and beautiful ways.
We are building a world-class software team on two continents in four cities. Our AI team based in Bratislava, Slovakia is creating business intelligence software for our international customers with the best and brightest data scientists, analysts and coders that can be found; our VX development team in Izhevsk, Russia is focused on building Composer so anyone can monetize content with a bespoke system; our design team is in Los Angeles and our Product team is in New York City. We benefit from our great diversity in experience and culture and we cross-pollinate with bi-monthly company-wide meetings.
We are 110 people strong and growing. It’s an amazing time to be in paid content, working on the best software in the world at one of the most amazing companies. We are really looking forward to 2016!
In 2010, Management at the Montreal daily La Presse came to a conclusion: the traditional paper was doomed. The publishing group, created in 1884, enjoys a stable and patient shareholder, the Groupe Gesca, a subsidiary of the industrial conglomerate Power Corporation of Canada. They durably supported La Presse’s management, a team characterized by a mixture of vision, strong leadership and quiet resolve. Since January 1st, La Presse only relies on its tablet edition, “La Presse+”, and on its thick Saturday paper, typical of the North American market with its 10 sections enjoyed around households every weekend.
Winding back up from the holiday season, the industry press speculates about what will happen in the upcoming year. Naturally ad blocking takes up a lot of space with emphasis shifting from confrontation to acceptance and solutions. Distribution platforms are another hot topic as is interpreting audience metrics. From Piano, we wish everyone a successful and enjoyable 2016.
Read more about what publishers are discovering in this week’s Piano’s Industry Insights, available now!
The newest distinct voice coming out of Moscow is Russia Direct, a publication that experts and senior decision makers rely on to debate and understand Russia’s relationship with the world. Their team is selling subscriptions and specialized reports using Piano’s VX platform. The publication is one of a number of B2B publications that has chosen VX to monetize their unique and valuable online content because of VX’s flexible and sophisticated value exchange models.
Founded in 2013, Russia Direct features original reporting as well as fresh writing from a wide variety of experts from both Russia and around the world; people who deliver insight often missing from today’s media landscape. Every day, Russia Direct provides their growing and very influential audience unique intelligence on the people, trends, issues and challenges that are driving the global conversation about Russia.
More than half their subscription revenue is being driven by individual report downloads while the other half comes from all access subscriptions. Having more than one revenue stream is just one of the ways Piano is helping Russia Direct build a sustainable business model that will endure through 2016 and beyond. We are proud to welcome them to the Piano family.