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OPA Research Shows Digital Subscription Drives Business Growth for Digital Content Publishers

December 11, 2013 | By Research Team

Digital Subscriptions Offer Myriad of Pluses for Publishers Including: New Revenue, Key Data, and Younger Audiences

New York, NY (Dec. 11, 2013) The Online Publishers Association (OPA) today releases research findings showing that a wide range of digital content publishers are leveraging paid models as part of their overall growth strategies. Among the newspaper and magazine members of the OPA, 95% have a paid subscription strategy and, according to the OPA Report: Digital Content Subscription Strategies Pay Off for Publishers, digital subscriptions are positively impacting revenue, attracting younger audiences, garnering valuable consumer data and enhancing ad sales.

“Paid models are proving to drive important business growth for these OPA members,” said OPA President Pam Horan. “The success they have seen illustrates the deep engagement consumers have with the content they love and, ultimately, their willingness to pay for it.”

The OPA Report: Digital Content Subscription Strategies Pay Off for Publishers highlights some of the common themes digital content publishers are encountering today, including finding ways to attract new subscribers; structuring and staffing digital marketing teams; balancing editorial decision making with data-driven content development; and the product development requirements for various digital platforms.

The research is based on interviews which took place between August and October 2013 with senior executives from Condé Nast, Consumer Reports, The Financial Times, Gannett Community Newspapers, Harvard Business Review, Meredith Corporation, The New York Times, Time, Inc., and The Wall Street Journal.

The Report shows that publishers are increasingly using the data acquired from digital subscribers to drive engagement, reduce churn and enhance ad sales. Publishers are also developing methods for evolving content development, staffing, business structuring and consumer awareness to support digital paid content strategies.

“First-party subscriber data has opened up a wealth of opportunities for our members to better serve their consumers and advertisers,” says Horan. “This includes delivering relevant content to subscribers while offering advertisers compelling ways to create deeper connections with the right readers.”

The following statements from OPA members interviewed in the OPA Report: Digital Content Subscription Strategies Pay Off for Publishers represent some key takeaways:

  • “One lesson learned is that the digital subscription business should not be treated in isolation. By integrating decisions around this part of the business with others, we enhance our overall performance. Our decision to bundle the digital offering into print, for instance, prevented digital from cannibalizing print.”– Denise Warren, EVP, Digital Products & Services, The New York Times
  • “Digital subscription requires very different circulation sales and marketing skills. To address that we have invested in ongoing employee training and put data at the heart of our organization” – Jocelyn Cripps, EVP, Global Marketing, The Financial Times
  • “We have grown advertising business every single year since we’ve introduced subscription. Because of the deep relationship we have with the audience and the data we have on our subscribers we can guarantee that advertisers reach very specific scarce audiences. We consistently achieve a premium above market CPM.” – Rob Grimshaw, Managing Director, FT.com
  • “We hired outside the publishing industry for consumer marketing, editorial and sales roles. We have been particularly keen to hire digitally savvy editors and marketers with experience in mobile, social, and e-commerce.” – Kim Miller, VP, Digital & Traditional Consumer Marketing, PEOPLE brand, Time Inc.
  • “We take inspiration from companies like Amazon, which spend a lot of time acquiring a customer and then spend an equal amount of time programmatically [i.e. applying data science] keeping the consumer engaged.” – Michael Rolnick, Head of Digital / Chief Digital Officer, The Wall Street Journal

To download the report, please click here.

About the OPA
Founded in June 2001, the Online Publishers Association (OPA) is a not-for-profit trade organization dedicated to championing the content people love by helping to fuel the growth and vitality of high quality news, information and entertainment brands in the digital age. The OPA elevates the importance of original content by delivering thought leadership, providing a platform for member interaction and advocating for our members among advertisers, policymakers, and the press. The Association also produces proprietary research on advertising and media consumption online for its members and the public, creates public and private forums to explore and advance key issues that impact content brands, and works to educate the public at large on the importance of quality content brands. Members of OPA represent the highest standards in online content creation with respect to editorial quality and integrity, credibility and accountability. OPA’s membership has an unduplicated audience of 220 million unique visitors or 100% reach of the U.S. online population (comScore Media Metrix, January 2013). For more information, visit www.online-publishers.org

Media Contact:
Elizabeth Luke
[email protected]