The rise of digital subscriptions has been hard to miss. From light-touch approaches to muscular paywalls, subscriptions in some form have become an established part of the media landscape in a way that looks starkly different to even a few years ago. In light of this, how are paywalls, subscriptions and subscribers themselves evolving? That’s the central question of a new benchmark report, released today by FIPP and paywall market leaders CeleraOne.
The report explores the results of a survey conducted by FIPP, which gathered responses from 95 publishers in 11 nations – Argentina, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US.
Using a catalogue of insights gleaned from three years of FIPP’s quarterly Digital Snapshot reports, the report also looks back on the brands who have consistently led the way when it comes to subscriptions, asking what others might learn from their approaches.
A shift in strategy
Rather than just reflecting a cultural shift in which people are more willing to pay for content, subscriptions are being prioritised at the strategic level. In its annual survey of media leaders released in January, The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked editors, CEOs and digital experts where their revenue focus will lie in 2021.
A remarkable 76 per cent said driving digital subscriptions was important or very important, ahead of both display and native advertising. That’s a reversal of their positions in 2018, when the question was last asked.
The time is now
The benchmark report comes at a critical moment, in the wake of elevated levels of public hunger for information throughout the pandemic. Covid-19 has brought certain necessities into focus, such as digital dynamism and having a modern tech stack.
“We are entering an interesting period because most of the people who subscribed did so because they needed firsthand information about Covid in their local area, or just needed entertainment in times of social distancing,” says York Walterscheid, Managing Director of CeleraOne.
“The question now becomes, how do you keep such a good conversion rate? It is crucial for publishers to look at their post-Covid strategy now.”