8 slides from Jed Williams’ Digiday presentation that shows the rise of digital subscription growth

Jed Williams, Local Media Association’s Chief Innovation Officer, presented recently at Digiday Hot Topic: Subscriptions & Memberships” in New York City. You can read about the conference here.

The conference explored all the major issues modern publishers are facing in developing consumer revenue streams. Williams spoke on “Small Town Success Stories,” and shared a variety of case studies from publishers or all sizes..

Here’s a look at the best of his slides:

First, let’s start with this slide via Borrell Associates. Display advertising is dropping. Fast.

Diversifying revenue has become an absolute need and this slide from a recent Local Media Association Innovation Index report sure drives that point home. 70 percent of the respondents to a recent survey said digital subscriptions were a Top 3 company priority.

LMA believes for local media to sustain for the future, numerous products and strategies will be necessary. This slide lists some of those key ones.

A healthy model is happening at the Seattle Times where 60 percent of their revenue is subscription based and about 40 percent is advertising. That’s happening because of big growth in digital subscribers. In fact, they now have 36,000 digital subscribers. 

Growing digital subscribers takes more than just creating a great product. It takes some science to understand what will lead to more conversions. The Times has created an analytics hub that helps the newsroom understand the kinds of stories being clicked on before someone becomes a subscriber.


Some news organizations like the San Francisco Chronicle have provided subscribers with membership. Not only do subscribers get access to content but a host of benefits like attendance at a farmers market cocktail class, event and store discounts and apps. This is how Hearst is tracking users all in an effort to grow subscriptions.

Then there are those like The Texas Tribune that don’t charge for access to the majority of their online-only site but rather create subscriptions through popular newsletters like The Blast. 

This is what Nieman Lab said about The Blast.

And then there are membership models for sites like Billy Penn that are positioned as a way to support a product readers love while at the same time providing those who donate with access to events and other perks. Here’s a write up from the Founder Jim Brady about their approach.

Click here to download the entire presentation.

Connect with Jed about his presentation and any industry topic via jed.williams@nulllocalmedia.org