Paid online Content: Trends, best practices and strategies that fit
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Paid online Content: Trends, best practices and strategies that fit

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  • ….from a small but vocal group. That wave of negative comments seems to subside rather quickly.The value proposition on digital content begins a new relationship with our new and next-generation customers.
  • As I mentioned before, now they are customers, not just drive-bys.
  • Slide shows — graduations, ball games, county fairs — PDFs of lawsuits, county ordinances, city and county budgets, Powerpoint presentations by the city manager

Paid online Content: Trends, best practices and strategies that fit Paid online Content: Trends, best practices and strategies that fit Presentation Transcript

  • PAID ONLINE CONTENT Trends, best practices and strategies that fit Michigan Press Association Jan. 26, 2013 Presented by Mike Jenner Missouri School of JournalismUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOWUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 1. HALF the country‘s dailies are now charging Paid content is no longer a trend. It‘s a movement.University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Half the country‘s dailies now charge• An RJI survey of 458 daily publishers last summer Yes 47% No showed that 53% 47 percent were requiring online users to pay 0% 0% Source: 2012 RJI Publishers Confidence Index University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Half the country‘s dailies now charge• Since then, the numbers have Yes climbed to a 50% tipping point. No 50% 0% 0% Source: 2012 RJI Publishers Confidence Index University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Smaller papers have led the way• 59% of dailies under 5,000 circulation• 53% of dailies between 5,001 and 10,000• 46% of dailies between 10,000 and 50,000• 26% of dailies with circulation over 50,000 University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Groups have seen the light • Gannett: 71 of its dailies • Media News-Digital First • McClatchy • Gatehouse • Tribune • Schurz • Media General • Swift • Lee • Wick • Cox • Pioneer • Scripps • New York Times • Morris • Dow JonesUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Why this matters to the industry• Basic economics: Supply and demand• Widespread paid content is bringing a badly needed scarcity to a glut of news• It straightens out an illogical business model University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Why this matters to the industryIt makes an important statement: Your content has value regardless of platform. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 2. Reduced page views don‘t hurt revenues Sites have so much unsold inventory, the only losses in ad sales are pennies in remnant banners.University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • When paywalls go up…• Page view declines range between 5-40 percent• Most sites have an inventory glut — many more page views than needed to present paid ads• Only remnant and ―value added‖ avails are lost• Paid content quickly covers any lost ad revenue• I know of no site that‘s seen a net revenue loss, even those seeing 40 percent fewer page views University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 3. Your loyal readers willsupport your efforts to charge They want you to succeed.University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • They want you to survive and thrive• Loyal readers are the biggest supporters of paid online content, even in markets where they are asked to pay more for access to online news.• In Cape Girardeau: Less than 2 percent of home delivery subscribers opted out. Yet less than 40 percent established digital accounts! University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 4 BENEFITSOF A PAID MODELUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • New revenue: Straight to the bottom line• Revenue increases will depend on market size and pricing• It‘s no silver bullet• Case studies show how pricing affects revenue University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Your site will become more valuableto your advertisers• More local, more quantifiable• You know who your customers are and what they‘re seeing on your site. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Quality of reader comments improvesLongtime reader to Andy Waters after theColumbia Daily Tribune launched its paid model:“Thank you for cleaning up the comments!” University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Online users are no longer freeloaders.They‘re customers. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 2 DISADVANTAGESOF A PAID MODELUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 1. Your online users are no longerfreeloaders — they‘re customersUp until now, if they had a complaint, makingthem happy might not have been your highestpriority.After all, you were giving it all away for free.Now, they‘re paying customers. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 2. You‘ll hear some negativecomments when you launch• Expect story commenters to object• The wave of opposition will be loud — but thin and short-lived• Plan in advance to counteract it • Thoughtful explanation to readers • Sustained marketing effort • Focus on your value proposition University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 2 CASE STUDIES • Columbia Daily Tribune • Augusta ChronicleUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • • 20,000 average weekday circulation • Ownership: Family • Launched December, 2010 • Metered model • Built it in-houseUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • ColumbiaTribune.com launched paid content on Dec. 1, 2010. • Advertising-only model was not generating revenue growth • Wanted to eliminate incentive to stop buying print edition • New revenue streamUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • How does it work? • Metered model – 10 free/mo. • Online-only: $8/mo. • Print subscribers: $1.50/mo. • Premium: All local content (photos, video, news, sports, blogs, obits, etc.) • Free: Everything else (section fronts, wire, weather, contests, classifieds, etc.) • Only subscribers can commentUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • One year after launch• 3,000,000 PVs/mo (still most popular in market)• Total unique visitors up; local audience up 7%• More than 9,500 paying – 60% conversion to bundle• Local advertising unaffected – Non-issue for advertisers• In first month, subscription revenue three times lost ad revenue• Few objections from readers – Quality journalism at stake University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • • 55,000 average weekday circulation • Ownership: Morris • Launched December, 2010 • Metered model • Thoughtful strategy, methodical rolloutUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • A thoughtful, deliberate rolloutCore belief: Placing a value on the content is more important thanany penny we‘ll collect.Strategy: Put toe in the paid-content water to learn. Set stage formobile/app paid content strategy. Use flexibility of model to experiment.Start up: Introduction of page threshold phases in December 2010.Rollout: Lots of communication with the market. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • A thoughtful, deliberate rollout • An editor‘s column • A publisher‘s column • Online FAQ • Anonymous comment interaction • Media response and comment • Phone calls • Newsroom mindset: Let‘s give ‘em something worth paying forUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • What the Chronicle told readers―We go beyond the button-pushing journalismsome bloggers and copycat online sites offer.‖From Editor Alan English‘s column:―How much would you pay to have your favoritejournalist or columnist‗watchdogging‘City Hall?Would you buy him or her a cup of coffee eachmonth?‖University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • What Alan English told readers―The value goes beyond access. You support thelocal journalism that includes:• Bio-testing local waterways, revealing problems and getting them attention.• Battling for public records.• Celebrating local heroes and honoring fallen soldiers.• Checking the safety of your roadways and bridges.University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • What Alan English told readers• Reviewing policies and hiring practices at city hall.• Raising awareness and donations for breast cancer.• Championing better government.• Leading coverage of ASUs national championship.• Convening a roundtable of local health care CEOs to learn the impact of reforms.• Rallying charitable giving at Christmastime.University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Editor Alan English asked readers: ―Who else does this as often as your local newspaper?‖University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 5 RECOMMENDATIONSUniversity of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 1. Make your site worth paying forCharging generates revenue to help payfor journalism, but you now have to makeyour digital edition good enough to expectreaders to actually pay for it. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 1. Make your site worth paying forThis means:• Your site needs to work.• It looks like it was put together with a modicum of care.• You‘ve added value to the content. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Product differentiationProduct differentiation• Your site should be different from your print edition.• Play to the strengths of digital: add value that only digital allows you to add University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • What this means• Deeper, richer stories: documents & data• Sight, sound & motion• Context• Interactivity• Links to archived content• Engagement/community University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 2. Go with ―opt out,‖ not ―opt in‖Give print subscribers the option of notchoosing a digital membership — butassume they will want to do so. University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 3. Choose a meter over a hard wall… University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 3. Choose a meter over a hard wall…• Keep your site search-engine friendly• Encourage discovery• Some see value in a porous ―wall‖ University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 3. …but keep your meter tight• Most early adapters started loose and began to tighten• The Augusta Chronicle began by giving everyone a free buffer of 100 views• Within 6 months, they‘d tightened it to 10 University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 3. …but keep your meter tight 35 Surveyed dailies’ monthly meter settings 30 Percent of papers 25 20 15 10 5 0 Less 5 10 15 20 25 and than 5 up Free stories per 30 days University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 4. What to keep inside / outside the wall OPEN ACCESS: RESTRICT ACCESS: • Breaking News • Unique local content • Section fronts • News • Wire • Sports • ―Commodity news‖ • Photos • Weather • Obits • Contests • Ability to comment • Classifieds University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • 5. Don‘t be afraid to ask for real moneyIt is possible to charge too little.Don‘t be afraid to ask readers to pay.University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism
  • Mike Jenner Missouri School of Journalism jennerm@missouri.edu Cell: (573) 808-4785University of Missouri Missouri School of Journalism