The dynamics of subscribing, explained in Media Institute Report

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The American Press Institute just published what it believes is the largest research into subscriptions and news. Named “Paying for news: Why people subscribe and what it says about the future of journalism”, the 60-page report investigates the current and future states of paid-for news. Let’s look at some of its key takeaways:

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1. Young people are willing to pay for news: 37% of the 18-34 crowd pays for one or more news sources on a regular basis. While the average value is higher, at 53%, this does prove millennial are interested in quality news.

2. Digital and Print news must coexist: print-oriented and digital-oriented subscribers make for respectively 58 and 28% of subscribers, and neither audience is interested in transitioning to the other platform. In the foreseeable future, both platforms will be required to reach a broader audience.

3. The key motivations for subscribing are quality coverage of a specific topic / issue (43%), and referrals from family and friends (41%). Basic, all-around news are easy to find for free, but quality content remains a commodity readers will want to pay for, and talk about within their social circle.

4. 26% of non-payers consider becoming paid users. They make for a large, untapped reservoir of potential subscribers for existing outlets. Understanding how to move them through the funnel and convert them into paid users will have to be a top priority for publishers.

5. Social networks matter. Discovery through social networks played a significant role in how many outlets acquire new paid users, with 13% of users listing them as the starting point for their purchase process. And engagement with these users is key to building a monetizable relationship.

In a context of dwindling advertisement revenue (both in printed and digital form), subscribers acquisition will have to be the top-priority for publishers. To do so, one must understand its readership, and engage it with the right content and offer, in the right place, at the right time.

While this provides an excellent view of subscribing dynamics, the data underlying the research is based on the American market. How do you think this translates into the European markets? Join the Digital Publishing Trends channel on WhatsApp to discuss!


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