The New York Times Co. has reason to celebrate as it posted $1 billion in subscription revenue in 2017 fuelled by the growth in digital subscriptions.
It bucks the general trend of declining revenues within the publishing industry, so what is The New York Times doing differently from other publishing companies that struggle to bring their figures into the black?
The newspaper has placed subscriptions at the centre of their commercial model for a while now as, like most other media companies, it battles with declining print advertising revenue. It has developed a range of digital subscription-based products including news articles, cooking and crossword packages. The approach has paid off: subscriptions account for 60% of the company’s total revenue.
In the UK, a similar story is playing out. The Guardian Media Group last year cut its losses by more than a third and quadrupled the number of paying members. It increased total revenues by focusing on its membership scheme, one-off contributions and growth in its international operations as it becomes less reliant on advertising revenue.
These are positive developments indeed, but publishers will need to look beyond long-term subscription models for future financial success.
Consumers increasingly expect to be able to ‘snack’ on content and are willing to pay for the content they value. Publishers need to be ready to offer easy access to such content, wherever and however they want.
Current subscription models that are subject to minimum prices, card-based payments and mobile wallets simply don’t meet consumer demands for easily accessible content, especially when this content is increasingly consumed on mobile. Publishers are wise to look at alternative payment methods (APM) with a mobile-first approach that make it easy for people to purchase one-off content as quickly and easily as possible.
A key APM is Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) where the cost of a digital purchase made on a mobile phone is charged to the consumer’s mobile phone bill rather than to a credit or debit card. It is intuitive, frictionless and quick and ensures publishers can monetise individual (and subscription-based) pieces of content.
The New York Times is ahead of the game, but publishers that embrace revenue-boosting innovation at every level of their organisation will not be far behind.
If you are a publisher and would like to hear how Direct Carrier Billing can improve subscription and reader conversion rates tenfold compared to credit cards then get it touch.