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GNI APAC Subscriptions Lab Launches at WAN-IFRA Asian Media Leaders eSummit

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GNI APAC Subscriptions Lab Launches at WAN-IFRA Asian Media Leaders eSummit

The program is an Asian Pacific expansion of GNI Subscriptions Labs in North America, Latin America and Europe and is part of the Google News Initiative (GNI) which provides products, partnership and training to help the news industry succeed in the digital age.

The GNI APAC Subscriptions Lab is being developed in partnership with FTI Consulting and WAN-IFRA and draws on FTI Consulting’s expertise in helping global news publishers develop successful digital subscription businesses, Google’s resource support across digital audience, product and strategic insights, and WAN-IFRA’s extensive network of member news publishers across the region.

The goal of the program is to develop a sustainable and thriving digital subscriptions business for participating news organizations. The program will include modules on creating loyal paying relationships with readers, optimizing the engagement and subscription funnel, and embracing a reader-first strategy and culture. 

WAN-IFRA, FTI Consulting and Google will select publishers for the program following an online application process, with the goal of representing a diverse cross-section of legacy print and digital native news organizations. Following the Lab, the experience and knowledge gained from the program will be shared with publishers around the world to help them implement their own digital subscription strategies.

Here is what the sponsors have to say about the program:

“News organizations who had set in motion strategies for alternate revenue streams were able to better withstand the pressures of reduced advertising due to COVID-19. We believe it’s crucial for publishers of all sizes to find ways to grow their reader revenue to ensure a sustainable future for their business. By launching the Subscriptions Labs in APAC, we hope to support and encourage more news organizations in their transitions towards this model,” says Rohan Tiwary, Head of Media, News & Entertainment Partnerships for Google APAC.

“The opportunity to work with eight Asian Pacific publishers, to help them build their own successful subscription businesses, was one that we were very excited to be a part of,” says Ken Harding, Senior Managing Director for FTI Consulting. “Over the next several months, the FTI team will be working with each publisher, sharing the learnings from both our work in the GNI North America Subs Lab as well as  publishing clients worldwide, on how to best accelerate digital subscription growth.  We believe that reader revenue is a key component for a sustainable business model for news publishers and we are excited to be building this program with our partners in the Lab.”

“As the global association for news media companies, WAN-IFRA believes that a financially healthy media is essential for a free and independent press. We have long championed digital subscriptions as an important pathway to a sustainable media business,” says Thomas Jacob, Chief Operating Officer of  WAN-IFRA. “Over the last decade we have been helping several news media companies understand paid content models through digital media conferences across the globe, advisory services, special reports and online learning modules. We are delighted to partner GNI and FTI in this Subscriptions Lab to assist Asian media companies on their paid content journey.”

Applications open now!

Interested publishers should complete an Application Form before August 14 2020. More information on application process and criteria are available Here. Successful applicants will be notified by the end of August.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Google News Initiative launching an Asia Pacific Subscriptions Lab?

The Google News Initiative is committed to partnering with news publishers to develop new business models that can support high quality journalism in the digital age. In today’s landscape with pressures of reduced advertising due to COVID-19, it is even more critical for publishers to develop sustainable and thriving digital subscription businesses. We believe that this program will not only support the publishers participating in the lab, but will also result in developing key learnings and insights that can be shared with publishers across the Asia-Pacific region.

How will lab participants be chosen?

Lab participants will be selected based on a variety of factors. Our goal is to build a diverse cohort of newspaper and digital native publishers that are committed to scaling their digital subscription businesses. Participating publishers should also be open to sharing their experiences and insights with the other participants in the lab.

How can I apply?

You can apply for the lab here. Applications are open from 22 July 2020 and will close 14 August 2020.

Who is eligible to apply?

The GNI APAC Subscriptions Lab is open to news publishers (legacy print and digital natives) who have launched a digital subscriptions business. 

What are the eligible regions?

Organizations must be incorporated and publish in one of the eligible countries/regions in APAC as outlined (in alphabetical order):

Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Cook Islands, East Timor, Easter Island, Fiji, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau SAR, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

Will you consider applications from news organizations without a digital subscriptions business?

Unfortunately, the scope of the program is focused around strengthening digital subscriptions capabilities for news publishers with an existing paywall and growing reader revenue, instead of developing a paywall from the ground up.

Am I required to share data as part of the Lab?

Yes. The sharing of data is a requirement in order to do data analytics so that we can assess where publishers stand on the maturity curve and identify short-term tactics and long-term opportunities to scale reader revenue. Additionally, the participating publishers  should be willing to share knowledge with the ecosystem, and this includes sharing conversion performance data with the cohort for benchmarking purposes.  That said, all data will be strictly confidential and used for the purpose of the lab. 

Are there any fees associated with the program?

The costs for the lab will be funded by Google and covers business review, subscriptions diagnostic, capabilities assessment, strategy roadmap, and continuous improvement framework. It excludes any grant funding to support internal rollouts.

How long will the lab run for?

The lab will commence in late August and run for roughly four months.

Is the instruction in English?

English will be the primary language for the Subscriptions Lab to allow for collaboration and sharing across the group. Publishers whose publications are in their native language are encouraged to apply, however, they should have some team members that can participate in English language-based meetings and workshops.

If I am selected, what should I expect from the lab?

The first phase of the lab will focus on an analytical assessment and executive interviews to develop a baseline understanding of each publishers’ digital subscription operating model. With virtual onsites and cohort meetings, publishers will receive access to individualized reports and industry experts who will facilitate discussions around best practices and strategies. Lastly, each publisher will get a personalized strategic roadmap to identify short-term initiatives, recommended experiments, and organizational capabilities needed to scale their subscriptions businesses.

What tools and resources are available to me if I am unable to participate in the lab?

For publishers unable to participate in the lab, Google will be holding Publisher Bootcamps, virtual learning sessions to share key insights and recommendations broadly with the APAC region.  More detailed information and dates to come on the Publisher Bootcamps.

Who can I contact if I have any questions?

For questions about the Subscriptions Lab or the application process, please contact Cheryl Chong (



2020-07-22 07:55

The Asian Media Leaders eSummit takes place from 20-23 July, featuring some of the most prominent news publishers and experts from the region, but also all over the world.

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