Why Advance Local invests in eEditions for growing digital readers

31 March 2021
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This week we announced our first partnership in the US with publishing group Advance Local. For readers of their 24 newspaper titles, Advance Local will provide a new premium edition experience to drive digital subscriber growth.

With this occasion we want to dive into specific differences between US and European Publishers. In doing this, we will explore how Advance Local will use the Twipe platform to challenge the eEdition status quo.

European publishers: a source of learning for subscription strategies

While the United States is home to Silicon Valley and a plethora of innovative startups, when it comes to media and newspaper technology, Europe has emerged as a leader.

Due in part to an early switch to subscription strategies, many European publishers have already faced some of the challenges linked to subscription products that American publishers face today.

In an interview series from 2018, we talked to nine leaders of American newspapers and media groups. A third of the publishers we spoke to were then launching paywalls for the very first time.

One successful subscription strategy that continues to grow in Europe is centred around editions. These tend to be in the form of premium ePaper experiences or new, innovative digital editions. With Poynter recognising that e-replica editions have suddenly become strategic, American publishers can leverage learnings of their European counterparts to drive subscriber growth with edition products.

Are neglected US editions a missed opportunity?

Many American publishers regard the replica edition as a side product. Considered as more of a legacy of print than a product to innovate and grow subscriber bases, replicas have not received the same level of attention in digital transformation debates. Surprisingly many eEditions in the US also focus on generating advertising revenue in spite of being paid for products.

But last year this trend began to change. We have seen signs of edition innovation in the US with an increasing number of publishers reviewing their digital edition strategy. During a tour of the US in early March 2020, 12 publishers were interested to meet our team and learn more about how they could leverage their digital edition to drive business growth.

With the rise of coronavirus, the logistics of creating, let alone delivering, the newspaper became even more complicated for publishers. Digital editions grew both in strategic importance and in adoption by readers. A recent German study shows that even in the younger segment (14-29 years old), 57% of newspaper readers now read ePapers. On our eEdition platform alone we saw a 75% increase in downloaded editions compared to 2019!

These conditions offer unique opportunities for publishers to dust off their eEdition offering. The newfound willingness to pay for news subscriptions should be met with products that address readers’ need for curation, structure along with the pay-worthy service of judgment that journalism institutions can provide. This is a need editions have helped to serve for a long time. Providing a solid solution to the challenge of retaining the covid bump subscriber is a further reason why it is the right time for publishers to revise edition strategies.

Advance Local invests in new eEditions

With this background in mind and with a strategy to offer edition readers a more premium reading experience, American publishing group Advance Local have taken the next step to invest in a new digital editions for all their 24 newspapers.

With this change, they want to bring a premium digital reading experience to their paying newspaper subscribers. In turn, digital editions will bridge the journey from print-first to digital-first for their readers. They also want to attract their new edition readers with new innovative digital products. We are proud that they have chosen Twipe as partner for this important journey.

As print readers become more engaged with our digital products, partnering with Twipe will allow us to bring a premium digital edition experience to our subscribers.”

Kevin Denny, Vice President of Consumer Revenue at Advance Local 

Advance Local chose to make use of our classic Replica ePaper technology as well as our digital-first NextGen edition technology. They will also use Twipe’s EngageReaders ePaper analytics tool. This will enable the different newsrooms and product teams to get a deeper understanding of edition readers habits. With these insights, Advance Local teams can also take daily decisions regarding edition composition, product development or ways to market the product.

First data from EngageReaders shows that Advance Local readers spend on average 22 minutes reading their daily edition. 15-20% are long readers spending up to 48 min with their favourite newspaper brand. After the first weeks, we have also seen a promising 10-15% organic adoption of NextGen formats among readers.

Some of the newspapers already offering the new eEdition experience on iOS, Android Apps or web include The Post-Standard, The Oregonian, and The Staten Island Advance

An educative journey

For Twipe this journey has already brought new learnings. One learning in particular is with regard to the CCPA regulations in the USA. Making sure our platform is compliant with specific US regulations has been a key goal for the delivery team.

Puzzles have also been very important for the readers at Advance. In their new edition experience, readers of Advance Local can interact with puzzles in various ways. These include via Web and NextGen templates or by printing and playing them as if they bought the print paper.

Understanding the key differences in edition consumption for US and European Publishers is something we will continue to explore. We will be sure to share our learnings as we go through this journey.

While there are some important differences between the European and American media industries, many challenges and constraints are similar. On either side of the Atlantic, the newspaper industry needs to transition to digital-first, reader-focused strategies. Edition products can play an important part in this process.

Contact our team if you want to learn more about our premium edition platform.

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