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WEBINAR SUMMARY: “Digital & Print Subscription Benchmarks, Best Practices During COVID-19 Pandemic”

In light of the COVID-19 disruption on news media business models, Mather Economics shared benchmarks and tactics on how successful organizations are using this time to double-down on both digital and print subscription revenue. This information was developed by analyzing a broad cross-section of 200 publishers in the United States over a 30-day period.

COVID versus non-COVID content interests with readers are relatively equal with 32% interested in COVID-only content, 23% avoiding COVID content but engaging with other news, and 45% wanting a mix of COVID and non-COVID content.

The new-user segment has grown on average 17%, an opportunity to apply aggressive top and mid-funnel engagement and conversion tactics such as e-newsletter promotion, brand awareness, and loyalty programs. E-newsletter programs are seeing large increases in open-rates, presenting an advertising sales opportunity.  Present your normal open rate vs. crisis open rate as valuable sales data to businesses when pitching e-newsletter advertising.

Publications putting COVID-19 content behind a paywall are seeing larger increases in new digital subscriptions but expect a significant decrease in retention post COVID.  Publishers in this category that are offering monthly digital subscriptions should react immediately on retention strategy.  Conversely, long-term decreases in digital subscription pricing is accelerating the subscriber transition from print or, “all access” to digital-only subscriptions.  This is a metric that should be monitored closely.

Immediate Tactical Actions

  • Anticipate a dip in subscriptions after crisis abates.
  • Anticipate growth in churn after crisis abates, especially from new subscribers.
  • Understand that content preferences are not all COVID-19 for your audiences and subscribers.
  • Create your retention/engagement touchpoints now so you are proactively deploying to your subscribers.
  • Activate digital access for print subscribers.

Strategic Implications

  • Now is the time to focus on strategic business planning and focused business rules.
  • The growth in page views is not 1:1 to the growth of programmatic advertising; direct-sold ads have dropped.
  • The economics of the Intelligent Paywall now swing in your favor of aggressive paywalls.

Want more?  Listen to the recording of the webinar or download the slide deck.

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