Consumer Revenue Innovation Mission preview: Lessons from the GNI Subscriptions Lab


The Consumer Revenue Innovation Mission, March 23-25 in New York City, will provide attendees exposure and insight into promising consumer revenue streams, with data insights, case studies and established best practices for applying these to your organization. Beyond theory and without fluff — this Innovation Mission is about actionable ideas for growing audience and revenue, quickly and sustainably.

The Innovation Mission will kickoff with roadmaps, experiments, and lessons learned from the GNI Subscriptions Lab. Ten newspaper partners participated in this first-of-its-kind program, intensely focused on growing digital subscribers, achieving impressive results, including 55 percent increase in subscribers year-over-year, and a 43 percent increase in average monthly consumer revenue.

Credit: FTI Consulting

Pete Doucette, managing director-business transformation, FTI Consulting, will be joined by Ben Monnie, director, Google News Initiative and Jed Williams, chief strategy officer, LMA/Accelerate Local to showcase some of the best work from the program, and how other local media companies can take action on the lessons of the Lab.

Additionally, executives from two of the standout partners in Google News Initiative Subscriptions Lab  — The Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) and The Buffalo News — will share how they are transforming their companies through digital subscription growth. Building on the results shared throughout the 10-month project, they’ll share deep insights and follow ups to some of the key takeaways shared during the Lab.

For example, as a result of their participation in the GNI subscriptions Lab, Post and Courier leaders have tweaked their strategy to focus on 16 key metrics across different parts of the customer journey, such as page speed and known user visits. At the same time, they’ve been restructuring their newsroom and adding more firepower to their digital audience team.

Post and Courier President and Publisher P.J. Browning shared this slide at the LEAP Roundtable event in August 2019, outlining one of 16 key metrics identified in the GNI Subscriptions Lab, which Post and Courier is focused.

These key metrics are also explained in the Accelerate Local report, Critical Publisher Benchmarks for Digital Subscription Success, and all Innovation Mission participants will receive a custom report in advance of the trip. (See also the Digital Subscriptions Playbook from the GNI Subs Lab.)

At Mega-Conference in February, Publisher P.J. Browning revealed one of the biggest learnings from the Lab: fixing problems that lead to potential subscribers abandoning their orders.

“We realized that 90 percent of our audience that started the process, they weren’t completing the process,” she said. “We had to dig in to figure out what is going on.

“If you want some exciting reading get into your credit card processor. Your processor can sink you and you won’t even know it is sinking you,” Browning continued.

Two paywall tests at The Post and Courier yielded new subscribers and known users, which helped them determine the most pertinent action items.

“We wanted to determine if locked, premium content was a viable piece of a digital subscription strategy,” said Mitch Pugh, executive editor of The Post and Courier. “We also know we need to increase the percentage of our users who are known. In other words, the number of users we have email addresses for. These two tests would help us determine the best path forward.”

At The Buffalo News, the team implemeted a newsletter sign-ups modal window that prompts all visitors to buffalonews.com to sign up for its “Good Morning, Buffalo” newsletter. Since launching the modal, The Buffalo News has added more than 60,000 newsletter subscribers over the past six months.

“At the same time, we’ve gotten more aggressive about keeping our email database healthy, removing unengaged and undeliverable contacts.” said Brian Connolly, vice president at The Buffalo News. “This has boosted our deliverability and open rates.”

The Buffalo News also grew the percentage of readers with an associated email address by six times compared with before beginning the Lab. This metric is important, as known readers are not only more loyal, but also 10 times more likely to convert to digital subscribers than anonymous visitors.

Hear more from these publishers and get the chance to ask questions during the Consumer Revenue Innovation Mission. This is just one visit — see the full agenda and register today.