It’s no secret that ad revenue has been decreasing substantially over the last decade. According to a 2016 report, ad revenue has decreased to close to a third of what it was ten years ago. Some sources estimate that if things continue with little resistance from publishers, ad blocking losses will reach $35 Billion by 2020.
With the Facebook-Google duopoly continuing to tighten its grip on the ad space, there’s still some good news. We’re seeing a burgeoning of industry discussions surrounding the importance of reader revenue. Companies who are incorporating dedicated reader revenue strategies into their business models are seeing results, and it’s changing the landscape of the industry to focus on tighter relationships with readers instead of relying so strongly on ad revenue models. Companies like the Financial Times are a good example. They’ve seen their digital subscriptions increase to more than 75% of their paying audience.
Increasingly technology is offering even smaller operations the resources to grow their reader revenue within budget. Many are turning to dynamic paywalls that allow you to tailor digital subscription offers to dial in conversions.
Paywalls and Increasing Reader Revenue
Remember when Amazon was first starting to get big and local retailers didn’t really think they would have to compete in an online environment? Many said that people would always want the hands-on experience of in-store shopping, and, while this may be true to some extent, we hear more and more talk of “ghost-town malls” and other retail woes. At the very least, retailers are now having to pivot and compete online as well as rethink traditional business models.
As new trends take hold in publishing it’s important to keep up with the curve. We’re seeing more and more publishing companies gravitate towards tech tools that support the emerging user-centric vision. A recent survey by Publishing Executive gives a bit of insight into what tech tools publishers are looking to invest in for 2018, and the results are revealing.
Out of this study of 93 respondent from media companies across a variety of industries, over 20% said they would be investing in paywall and subscription technology this year. When these conversations first began there was understandable fear that readers, who were used to getting free content online, were simply not going to pay for subscription content. We now know this isn’t the case.
The American Press Institute, partnering with 90 local newspapers, surveyed 4,100 recent subscribers and found that half of the digital readers who subscribed did so when they hit a paywall meter. Readers are willing to pay for quality content, especially when they receive a tailored experience that shows the content is highly relevant to them.
Dynamic Paywalls Make the Difference
Dynamic paywall technology augmented by machine learning algorithms increasingly blurs the line between traditional paywall technology and audience analysis. Why is this important? Because in addition to paywall technologies, respondents overwhelming chose audience analytics tools as being the most important technological investment this year. 34% put audience analytics tools at the top of their buying list for 2018.
This is just another clear indication that publishing is turning back to a model where a direct relationship with readers will take front and center. In fact, “Making audience data more actionable and monetizable” was cited by 47% of respondents as the main business objective for investing in these new technologies.
Dynamic paywall technology is going to be key in helping businesses achieve these objectives. Some of the benefits of dynamic paywalls are:
- Interest and engagement data. Dynamic paywalls gather data on what pieces of content potential customers are interested in and engaged with, dialing in conversion tipping points based on audience behavior to customize what subscription offers to show and when. What’s more, data showing which pieces of content are converting and engaging users can provide valuable insight to editorial teams on which topics are of interest to readers. This will help decrease churn so that subscribers, once subscribed, stay that way.
- Get a better grasp of your interaction window. Say a potential customer comes to your site from Google. According to data gathered by PostUp, it’s likely you’ll have fewer opportunities to convert them because they’re looking for something specific. If they don’t find it (or even if they do) they may never come back. With Facebook, though, you might get several separate sessions because once Facebook has tagged a reader as interested it’s more likely to show them your ads again. These users will be treated differently and offered customized messaging at relevant times.
- Adapt the amount of content provided to specific users depending on point of entry. Say you have a reader come to your site through Facebook. Knowing this might mean they’re less likely to be engaged as these are often more casual browsers. Dynamic paywall technology would present these users with a looser paywall to allow them to peruse the site a bit. If they come in through an email promotion, however, they’re probably a bit more invested and that paywall would automatically tighten so that they don’t get too much access to information and leave once they’ve gotten what they need.
Of course in the end there’s not one solution and businesses need to take into account a variety of factors such as how strategies in one area will affect other channels. But one thing’s for sure, with smart technology publishers can begin to leverage data immediately, drive reader revenue growth, and start seeing results faster and with less effort than ever before.
Are you looking to increase your reader revenue growth? We’d love to help! Our content subscription platform allows you to leverage dynamic paywalls to optimize conversion and decrease churn. Contact us to learn more.
Neya Abdi is a Content Specialist at Pelcro. She spends more money on digital newspaper subscriptions than all her streaming apps combined and is passionate about helping publishers build subscriber revenue.