The Google News Initiative, WAN-IFRA and Mather Economics drive an ambitious program supporting digital subscriptions in Latin America

by Rodrigo Bonilla | May 29, 2019

If we had to choose the topic that has most focused the attention of media executives in Latin America during this last year, there would not be much discussion. Digital subscriptions have been the main internal and external subject of debate in most companies, both those that have had a paid digital content strategy for years and those that have just launched or are considering doing so soon.

There is a clear conviction among media companies in Latin America that it is inexorable to diversify income, with digital subscriptions being one of the most attractive ways to achieve this. This is true both for the national media and for the hundreds of regional or local media in the different Latin American markets. The future of the industry, as it happens in other areas of the world, depends in large part on the means being able to obtain income from users and not depend so much on those provided by advertisers.

For this reason, the Americas office of WAN-IFRA has partnered with the Google News Initiative and the consulting firm Mather Economics to create the GNI LATAM Subscription Laboratory. The main objective of this laboratory is to give a strong boost to the digital subscriptions of a group of media to help them develop a sustainable business model in the digital age.

The project consists of an eight-month plan that will allow analyzing and improving all the steps related to the digital subscription process of the participating media. The following eight media from different markets in Latin America have been selected to participate in the GNI LATAM Subscription Laboratory: Clarín and La Nación from Argentina, Estado de MinasO Estado de S. PauloFolha de S. Paulo and Nexo from Brasil, El Espectador from Colombia and Reforma from Mexico. The group presents several of the main newspapers of the continent, but also regional media and digital natives.

During the selection process, an indispensable requirement was the existence of a commitment from the top management level of the companies to promote a strategy based on digital subscriptions and to dedicate the time, energy and resources necessary to the project.

The willingness to experiment and share in a totally open way with the rest of the industry the lessons that this experience will offer was also an essential element to participate in this ambitious program. The objective is to achieve that the eight participating media have made great progress in their subscription business once the collaboration is completed, and that the lessons learned are disseminated to be used and applied by any other Latin American media. This will allow adding great value to an industry in need of immediate improvements in its business model.

The participating media in the Laboratory will go through several modules that have been foreseen in the work plan, all of them related to the subscriptions. Some will focus on short-term optimizations with immediate impact on revenues, while others will be linked to the most difficult long-term decision-making.

The companies will receive individualized support from the three organizations throughout the entire project, and will also participate in several workshops. The Mather Economics team will analyze in detail the case of each medium, offer concrete practical recommendations on the improvements to be implemented and in the final phase, support will also be provided for the performance of A / B tests.

The Laboratory will share with the media industry as a whole the results and lessons that will be achieved throughout the project through the publication of a report and training. In a special way, these results will be shared within the framework of the seventh edition of the conference Digital Media LATAM of WAN-IFRA, to be held in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from November 11 to 13, 2019.

This post is a contribution of Rodrigo Bonilla, Regional Director for the Americas of WAN-IFRA, and Ismael Nafría, associate consultant of WAN-IFRA.

Contact for PR questions: Susana Pabon – or Rodrigo Bonilla –

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