Paid content: The debate evolves from ‘should I?’ to ‘how?’

Renewed confidence in the future of newspapers seemed to animate discussions at the Newspaper Association of America’s MediaXchange conference in Orlando, Florida, this week, in no small part because of growing circulation revenue – up 5 per cent last year, the first gain in this category since 2003 – and because of the growing acceptance of paid content online.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | April 19, 2013

From all we’ve been hearing from the American newspaper industry, this might come as a surprise. When it comes to paid content, it was nice to see an evolution in the discussion and sophistication in the approach. No longer is the question, “should I do it?” but rather “how should I go about it?”

There is a lot of experimentation going on, with some newspapers approaching or reaching parity in the price of their digital and print subscriptions.

More than 600 newspapers now have paid content systems, according to analyst Ken Doctor, who moderated a MediaXchange session on “the strength and future of digital subscriptions.”

Gordon Crovitz, Co-Founder of Press+, an e-commerce platform now helping 400 newspapers implement flexible subscription models, says those who follow the company’s best practices see a revenue increase of 15 to 20 per cent in the first 18 months.

The key to successful paid content is nothing less than rethinking the subscription model and moving away from asking consumers to pay for platforms. “It’s not about the platform, but the content is what you’re paying for,” said Laura Hollingsworth, President and Publisher of the Des Moines Register.

More on the discussion can be found on the NAA’s conference reporting site here.

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