Audience engagement metrics show paths to digital, print subscription revenue
By Donald Williams
As appearing on the INMA blog on January 30, 2019.
Last November I attended the INMA Consumer Engagement Summit held in Miami. Attendees came from a wide cross section of the publishing industry, from small news brands to well-known brands like USA Today and The New York Times.
As I sat through the conference, I heard jargon: “acquisition,” “retention,” “average revenue per user,” “lifetime user value,” “churn reduction,” “propensity modelling.”
Clearly the focus for these news brands is to build their own audience platform with subscription as the core.
This brought me back to my days in the telecommunications industry, where jargon was, and still is, the bread and butter of the marketing department. In the mid-2000s, the telecommunications industry underwent sweeping changes to its subscription-based pricing models. User value and propensity modelling became key performance metrics.
Telecommunication services have traditionally been based on a subscription model, with customers paying on a per-use basis. Telecom service providers had sophisticated methods of metering usage in place — whether minutes of voice, data usage (bytes), number of messages, or a combination of these. But, in an increasingly competitive landscape, telecom service providers soon realised they needed to provide premium services with compelling customer value propositions.
Like telecom providers, publishers are also looking to understand where in the value chain each user resides to retain or grow revenue.
Customised content offerings enhances subscription
News brands’ content offerings are often perceived as limited compared to those of industries in the telecom or financial sectors. This idea is based on the misconception that printed news content is simply copied to fit the digital edition. Rather, most news brands curate content for each medium.
Also, consumers prefer a subscription model, allowing them the flexibility to access content in their own way — in print, digitally, and on a variety of platforms.