Advertising Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
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Pricey subscriptions need a “special sell”

As it becomes harder for publishers to grow digital ad revenue, they’re looking for money from high-end subscriptions costing not a few hundred dollars a year, but $5,000 or more for specialized news and information. Publishers from stalwarts like The Wall Street Journal to digital natives Business Insider, The Information and upstart Axios are betting they can wring as much as $10,000 out of subscribers.

“The thing is, if you’re going to sell subscriptions for $10,000, it has to be significantly different from what you’re doing today,” said Bobby Moran, vp of business development and strategy at Politico Pro, whose annual subscriptions for D.C. insiders start at $5,000 a year. “You have to recognize it’s not going to work out right away. And don’t hire within the industry.”

That last part may be a hard one for publishers to swallow, but those who have been at this a while say selling such services requires a special skill set that may be utterly foreign to people used to selling media. In addition to the high price, it’s a product that the consumer may be unfamiliar with and may not think they need. As a result, the selling process can take multiple meetings and conversations over as long as six months.

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