DME14: Paid content success: keep your eye on the ball

“Your digital subscription strategy will not automatically work. It’s a game on endurance and focus. At Aftonbladet, we set up our freemium offering Plus in 2003, and the success over the years have directly correlated with the amount of effort we’ve put in to it,” said Kalle Jungkvist, senior advisor to Schibsted in Sweden, introducing the paid content session at Digital Media Europe in London on Monday.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | April 7, 2014

WAN-IFRA is currently running a paid content survey among publishers, and while numbers are still not final, Jungkvist said there are a number of challenges mentioned, including a high churn rate as well as difficulty in converting smartphone users into paying subscribers.

Focus on mobile

“For Aftonbladet paid content is very focussed on mobile now – the user behaviour has really changed over the past couple of years. In 2012, 10 percent of our new Plus users came from mobile, a year later that figure was over 50 percent,” he said.

“Over the years, what we’ve found is that when we keep razor sharp focus on Plus, it’s been very successful. A few years ago we took our eyes off the ball, as we were reorganising the newsroom, and it immediately impacted Plus – we lost some 50,000 subscribers over two years.”

Today, there are 182,000 “base-level” Plus subscribers. Subscribers can choose to either pay by credit card or via sms, in which case the charge is included on the next mobile phone bill, “Most people choose the text message option. The easy way will always win,” said Jungkvist.

Four key lessons

For Aftonbladet, there have been four main learnings around digital subscriptions:
• Engagement is key, in all departments, and, crucially, across departments. “You have to tear down the walls between the departments. Editorial have to work with advertising, tech and marketing.
• Actively use your user data. “You all have a lot of data – use it, test it, analyse it to tweak your offering.”
• A/B testing is key. “A couple of years ago Aftonbladet started doing A/B testing in a more organised way, and it has really affected churn.”
• Keep your focus on mobile – this is where your new audience will be coming from.

Follow the conference on Twitter at #DME14


Mustafa Gerdan@gerdanmustafa

“Hesitation is more lethal and fatal than failure.” @JungkvistKalle delivered from mouth of a startup owner.

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