Subscriptions are hot…but cost a lot.
A lot of conversation among publishers revolved around the topic of paywalls and how best to manage them. Many large news organizations have found that people are willing to pay to receive high quality journalism or niche content, but the cost on the publisher’s side is enormous, and sometimes overwhelming.
Publishers who are interested in implementing subscriptions are asking each other, “who is going to manage all of the data for me?” Who in their organization going to take care of the segmentation and inform editorial which content is bringing the most conversions? Which content should be placed where, and that’s before they’ve spoken about cart abandonment and churn. Which analytics platforms and payment processors should they be using? Is this all audience development’s job? There’s a need to hire and restructure staff, and no one is sure what’s the best way to go about it.
Implementing technology and hiring a team that focuses on this crucial data that can help guide you in these steps can run up costs in the millions of dollars per year, according Digiday’s latest research on subscription publishers.
Publishers are more skeptical of platforms than ever before
It seems to have come to the point where publishers are very much caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to platform publishing. On the one hand, they need the platforms to reach audiences who spend most of their time there. But if one or more platforms become a very successful source of traffic or revenue for a publisher, then they are left at the mercy of said platform. “We’ve seen platforms make changes that have huge implications for publishers,” an exec at a major publisher told Digiday at the Publishing Summit.
Take Apple’s latest pitch to publishers to join the Texture service they acquired, for example. Most likely to be incorporated into the wider Apple News, Texture offers a service whereby readers can gain access to a multitude of publications for only $10 per month. While it seems like an attractive proposition for some, publishers are just as wary to sign up as they are intrigued by its potential value. “What if it works? Then Apple News owns us,” another exec told Digiday.
The conversation among publishers is continuing to move towards earning a bigger slice of the revenue generated by mega platforms, when it’s their content that the platforms are aggregating, and ultimately, fueling users to return. Publishers seem to be scaling back from investing a lot of time and effort into platforms when their returns in revenue and referrals are not equal.
Editorial analytics is increasingly important to publishers
Editorial analytics, being data-informed, or even data-first, has become a very important strategic method to newsrooms and content teams around the globe.
“How can I know which content or what types of articles are likely to generate the most amount of profit for me?” One major publisher asked us at DPS US. “How can I know when two pieces of content are being distributed in different places, with one not having been as prominently pushed as another, which is the most valuable? And how do I communicate this to my editorial team?”
A number of tech savvy publishers have built their own in-house editorial analytics in order to understand trends in their traffic and engagement, The Guardian and Buzzfeed being among the two best known. However, there are still a large number who don’t use them, and or, are not sure what to do with the data they receive. Therein lies the problem.
What most editorial analytics platforms fail to address is, what is the real value, in monetary terms, of the data that is shown? Page views, as a stand alone metric, are nice to see, but when you add in the monetary value of what a particular visit, or groups of visitors, or specific articles are actually generating in revenue, only then can you understand the value of trying to achieve more, or zoning in on the content and visitors that are generating the most revenue. Also, if a particular piece of content is generating a high ROI, or higher RPMs, but hasn’t gained maximum exposure, then it’s worth scaling that content on more channels.