Since 2005, TechCrunch has been the go-to source for the latest news on technology and startups, with a thriving events business and 15 million monthly active users (per ComScore). Then they decided to bring on something extra. On February 12, 2019, with the help of Piano’s platform for digital media, the Verizon-owned company launched Extra Crunch. The subscription-based product offers users access to exclusive deep-dive content especially for startups, savings on TechCrunch events, and a premium experience that includes the new Rapid Read and List Builder tools — making it easy to read content faster or simply save it for later instead.
Piano spoke to Travis Bernard, TechCrunch’s head of audience development, about Extra Crunch. Part 1 of our interview covered the planning process, Part 2 looked at how they chose to position and market the new product, and in this final section we ask why they chose Piano to fuel their new subscription product.
Travis Bernard: There were a number of factors at play. One, we had seen Piano on a number of other media sites — sites we respected. So I think there was some authority there within the industry. The name kept coming up. It also just fit with what we were trying to do. We knew that we had a big existing audience on our site, and there were tools like Piano Composer that we could use to help tap into that existing audience.
We tested out Composer for about a year before we decided to launch the subscription product. That first year we were using it, it was really about figuring out how the product worked, and if it made the most sense for us to use for our subscription product. And we had a lot of success with it in getting users to disable their ad blockers, and also to help drive event ticket sales. That seemed like a good stepping stone to help launch our subscription product, in addition to helping to serve some other needs across the site.
Bernard: We did look at other tools. Then we also had to vet this against the build-or-buy scenario, too. I think that was more of the question. And at that time when we were going through the vetting, we felt like what Piano had to offer would give us the best chance of success.
Bernard: Where do I even start on that one? I think I would say initially that Piano helped us fine tune the experiences that we wanted to offer, to better understand what our goals and objectives were and how we could actually help achieve those through our subscription tool. Then I would say it's really been a lot on the technical integration side. We had a slightly different integration than most folks, just because we had to do a custom integration with Verizon Media's payment system. So a lot of the work we were doing, a lot of the back and forth, was on the technical side to help make that experience happen
Bernard: I don't want to reveal our entire roadmap, but I would say for us what's important right now is focusing on payments, getting through the checkout flow, and being able to pay as easy as possible — just making that as frictionless as possible. So we'll likely be adding on some additional payment methods, like Apple Pay for example. We're also going to continue to be building on the community aspects. And right now we're not available in every country in the world, so we're looking to add more countries to the list. I would say those are some of our larger priorities in the near term.
To find out more about how customers are using Piano to build subscription-based premium offerings, read How Golf Digest Swings and Wins with a New Digital Model Based on Premium Content.