Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
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Playing the reader revenue long game: The Media Roundup

Today’s roundup is brought to you by Esther 

At The Seattle Times, 70 percent of revenue now comes from readers

I always love looking at how publishers who focused on reader revenue a long time ago are faring now. Those that have been smart are reaping the rewards of strategies that have matured over a decade or more.

Locally-owned and independent publication The Seattle Times is one such example. They moved to a reader revenue model over 10 years ago, and now more than 70% of their revenue – both print and digital – comes from their audience. It hasn’t made them completely immune to the effects of ad revenue decline, but in each case, the newsroom positions have been the ones prioritised for protection. Just take a look at this piece’s opening paragraph:

You can have the most sophisticated funnel, the best retention tools on the planet, spend a fortune on your tech stack, but if your content is bad, if you’ve gutted your newsroom, if you’re publishing two or three local stories a day, I say save your money on all your retention efforts because you’re still going to fail.

Alan Fisco, Seattle Times President

How Ladbible grew to become the biggest news publisher on Tiktok

Swap ‘TikTok’ for ‘Facebook’ throughout this post and you’ll feel like you’re back in 2014. Well done to Ladbible, but as always, their continued success is totally at the mercy of yet another tech giant. Or perhaps, this time, multiple regulators in the West.

Inside the collapse of Insider’s much-hyped D.C. team

Back in 2020, Insider posted a brand-new politics team in Washington D.C. The New York team would continue to focus on traffic, while Washington would generate high-impact stories to bring in subscriptions. This is an interesting report, but one particular issue stood out for me: they could never define their target market. It’s fine to want broad appeal, but to convert, you have to know your audience and what they need.

User research: How The Conversation used a decision-first approach to inform two key products

When you want to make a decision, the first port of call is to do some user research. But Khalil A. Cassimally, Head of Audience Insights at The Conversation argues that actually, you should make the decision first then determine what data you need to inform that decision. He explains far better than I can here why that makes sense, especially from a product perspective.

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