World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Five takeaways on digital subscriptions from WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia 2018 conference

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World News Publishing Focus
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Five takeaways on digital subscriptions from WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia 2018 conference

  1. Media outlets with paywalls give reasons for people to pay for journalism, either with exclusive content, like Germany’s Bild (which puts 15% of its content behind a paywall, and 30% of such content is its top content); or the need for public support and donations to keep the media running, like Malaysiakini, which provides news in a polarized media environment.

  1. Individualized content is highly valued, whether it is to keep loyal viewers interested or to expand the audience pool through coupons or personalized newsletters to catch people’s attention and get them to subscribe.

  2. The Bild newspaper from Germany focuses on content that goes behind the paywall, and has a transparent performance model within its integrated editorial team, putting out all content but with extra exclusive content for subscribers, like documentaries with popular topics such as crime, sports or sex. Tobias Henning, Bild’s General Manager for Premium Content, emphasized the importance of customer relationship management, saying that users who are provided with different channels such as the mobile applications and websites, are more likely to stay subscribed.

  3. Neue Zürcher Zeitung’s website, which originated as a copy-and-paste product based on the early online version of the New York Times, began its paywall back in 2012. Represented by its former MD, Steven Neubauer, he described how NZZ steered towards a data-driven product successfully earlier this year with machine-learning pattern recognition generating propensity-to-pay scores, and personalization features for new users and paying subscribers, for omni-channel marketing and retention. This involved a lot of experimentation over the past six years.

  4. Dubbed the first media to have a paywall in Asia, if not the world, Malaysiakini’s Product Manager, Sean Ho, explained that its users’ continued subscription support has allowed the independent online publication to continue running. It’s been subscription-based since 2002. Since charging for access to its English and Chinese content, attention has now shifted to content and engagement, and is now focused on maintaining their users’ loyalty. This enables Malaysiakini to play a watchdog role to the government and be trusted by the readers.


Angie Chan is a journalism student at Hong Kong Baptist University.



Kimberly Lim's picture

Kimberly Lim


2018-11-19 09:28

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