Digital Subscriptions Playbook: Accelerating digital transformation through GNI Subscriptions Lab


Spirited Media CEO (and Local Media Association board member) Jim Brady recently penned an article for Reynolds Journalism Institute entitled “There’s a reader revolution happening. Will legacy news miss it – again?”

This push for reader revenue – namely in the form of digital subscriptions – is one of the top trends across local media. The strategies that publishers pursue, and how they achieve reader revenue goals that enable sustainable business transformation, are still emerging and often uncertain. The GNI Subscriptions Lab, a partnership of LMA, FTI Consulting, and the Google News Initiative, was designed specifically to address these questions through an intensive nine-month, multi-phase program that works directly with ten publishers to build reader revenue roadmaps that spark growth.

The latest report from the Subscriptions Lab provides a playbook that addresses critical considerations on the path to successful transformation. The playbook identifies and answers these five essential questions:

Why should digital subscriptions be your top priority?

Publishers’ revenue mix is changing significantly, with secular decline in legacy print advertising, and flattening of other revenue sources. As a result, digital subscriptions become a vital growth channel, with strong compound annual growth rates across media that support investment.

What is the revenue opportunity?

The relative market opportunity in a given metro or community should inform the proper level of investment in building the digital subscriptions business. Key metrics such as “unique visitor opportunity,” “digital subscription penetration of audience,” and “average effective rate per digital subscriber” are important levers in sizing the opportunity. These can vary significantly by market size, as well as other market-specific factors.

How does your publication’s current state compare?

Current state capabilities in digital subscriptions are a function of foundational people, process and technology considerations. Benchmarking these elements across several key metrics within the overall customer journey (from traffic to engagement to conversion to retention) helps publishers understand where they fall on the digital maturity curve, and what steps to take to make progress.

How do you start making progress?

Publishers must prioritize where to focus attention and resources to grow digital subscriptions. This requires developing a design-and-test mindset that enables rapid experimentation on the path to longer-term transformation. Publishers can identify roadmap items at each stage of the customer journey that can be tested in various ways.

How do you know if you’re on the right path?

Tracking digital subscriptions performance over time – and in real-time – is a must-do to identify progress and continued gaps. This requires a disciplined, data-driven mindset that aligns everyone at a company around agreed-upon North Star metrics.

To download the full report fill out this form or click here.

Request Digital Subscriptions Playbook

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