Facebook recently announced the launching a local news subscription accelerator, a three-month pilot program to help metro newspapers beef up their digital subscription efforts. In response, Magid turned to Jaime Spencer, Senior Vice President, Local Media to share his thoughts on their new program and how it is designed to help publishers gain insights into what will to drive people to subscribe local media.
Gaining new subscribers with exclusive content
As newspapers seek a path to sustainability, digital subscription revenue is perhaps the most important piece of the revenue pie. To this extent, Facebook’s efforts can have an impact on the future of the print industry as they seek to improve digital marketing efforts for publishers. But this is only half of the picture. For newspapers to truly grow their subscriber base, they need to deliver a truly compelling value proposition that makes it worthwhile for a consumer to pay for content. What will consumers get with a digital subscription that they can’t get anywhere else?
Consumers seek local and investigative coverage
Magid research points to two core areas that newspapers can potentially leverage to create the kind of differentiation needed to merit paying for content. Among all types of news, these two content areas have the most significant gap between the percentage of news consumers who find that topic ‘very important’ and the percentage of news consumers who are satisfied with the current content available in that topic area.
- Community news and information: This is the second most important topic for news consumers, and an area that newspapers have fulfilled for decades. But as newsrooms have shrunk, so has the amount of truly local or hyper-local quality news available. Just 27% of news consumers are ‘very satisfied’ with the community news available to them.
- Investigative coverage: A top-5 news topic area in terms of interest (and growing in importance), newspapers also lead the charge in investigative and in-depth content in local markets for many years. And like community news, as newspaper newsrooms shrunk, the amount of truly unique and valuable investigative coverage has also diminished. Today, just 14% of news consumers are ‘very satisfied’ with the investigative coverage available to them.
Preparing for the future of print
Driving scalable growth for digital subscription revenue will be a challenge for print organizations. But truly redefining their value proposition and reorganizing their operations to deliver on it will be even more challenging.
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