Funding for the news industry is going through an epochal change, the implications of which cannot be overstated.
The move toward subscriptions will require measuring audiences differently, with analytics that measure deep engagement and not just page views. Publishers will need to segment audiences by their loyalty also and by their eventual likelihood to pay.
Perhaps most significantly, the newsroom and business sides of news organizations will be aligned more than before. The move toward subscriptions places the newsroom—and quality content worth paying for—at the center of the business strategy.
To help understand this new landscape, the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, has conducted a series of studies over the last 18 months to understand what moves readers to subscribe.
This latest study may be the largest study ever undertaken of people who have recently subscribed to newspapers. It surveyed people who subscribed in the last three months to 90 local newspapers across the US.
In its report, the Media Insight Project identified nine distinct “paths to subscriptions”—the motives and conditions that together lead a person to subscribe.
The research found that some people are looking for coverage of a particular passion topic. Others have subscribed because of a change in their lifestyle. Some want coupons to save them money. Some discovered the paper through social media. Others want to support journalism as an institution. All are subscribers.