Latin America Subscriptions Lab Report

2021-07-07. WAN-IFRA, the Google News Initiative and Mather Economics launched today the Google News Initiative Latin America Subscriptions Report, a summary of key takeaways, insights and results from the GNI Latin America Subscriptions Lab.

by Rodrigo Bonilla | July 7, 2021

The cohort featured a diverse group of news businesses, including digital startups and established national news organizations. The Lab was an 18-month, cohort-based effort to bring digital subscriptions best practices and approaches used by publishers around the world to eight Latin American news organizations: Nexo Jornal (BR), Reforma (MX), Estadao (BR), El Espectador (CO), Fohla de Sao Paolo (BR), Estado de Minas (BR), Clarin (AR), and LA NACION (AR).

The publication of the report is extremely timely and relevant as the interest in reader revenue models continues to grow amongst Latin American news media companies,” said Rodrigo Bonilla, Director for the Americas at WAN-IFRA. “The report will be an extremely valuable tool not only to news companies about to embark on a paid content strategy, but also to those with more robust paywall models wishing to benchmark their acquisition and retention tactics.”

From elections and civil and social unrest to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Latin American news industry went through a defining period over the last couple of years.  The report documents main learnings during this defining period for the region’s news industry and puts together a set of recommendations from successful digital subscriptions models around the world.

Reader revenue — and digital subscriptions, in particular — can be a part of the long-term solution for sustainability across the news industry. But it’s still an emerging discipline, particularly in Latin America, and there’s still a lot to learn for all of us. Over the past two years, the Latin America Subscriptions Lab has produced so many sharp insights on factors that can help news organizations be successful. I’m thrilled that we’ll be able to share those learnings more broadly through this report and hopeful it’ll help make the subscriptions journey a little easier for news organizations across the world,” said Arun Venkataraman, Co-lead of the Digital Growth Program at the Google News Initiative.

By making the recommended changes to their digital subscription practices, the participating companies collectively generated nearly $7.2 million in incremental subscription revenue — equating to $30 million 5-year lifetime value forecast — over the Lab’s 18 months. The A/B tests recommended by the Mather team collectively generated $1.9 million, equating to ~$10 million in 5-year lifetime value from new subscriber starts and retention savings.

We are grateful for the participation of the LATAM news publishers in the GNI Subscription Lab. Together we learned a tremendous amount about developing a sustainable digital subscription revenue business. The insights from this Subs Lab are relevant to news publishers everywhere in the world and at different stages of digital transformation, and we are excited to share the findings in this report,” said Matt Lindsay, President of Mather Economics.

The GNI LATAM Subscriptions Lab generated the following takeaways, with implications for publishers everywhere:

  • When a reader consumes content across multiple topics, they are more likely to subscribe
  • Less than half of all digital content newsrooms produced was consumed by readers who became subscribers
  • The value proposition for subscribers in Latin America often extends beyond journalism (i.e., discounts and coupons on goods and services)
  • There are diminishing returns on propensity to subscribe from increasing visit frequency
  • Growing the number of known users increases subscription propensity significantly
  • Publishers, generally, should adopt more restrictive paywall strategies than they do currently
  • The risk of losing advertising revenue by shifting to a more aggressive subscription strategy is limited
  • Increasing the number of times a reader hits a paywall makes them more likely  to subscribe, but this likelihood eventually declines
  • Minimizing friction in the purchase process can have a significant, positive impact on your subscription conversion rate
  • Readers in Latin America are generally more price-sensitive than in other regions, but differentiated pricing can increase the average revenue per user
  • The prevalence of “rewards clubs” in Latin America leads to different churn and engagement goals than in other regions

The free report is available for download here. The report is available in Spanish and Portuguese in the coming weeks.

The webinar discussion about the report and its main takeaways can be watched on demand here 


Rodrigo Bonilla, Director for the Americas, WAN-IFRA. Email:

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