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Who Pays for News? And, More Importantly, Why?

Recommended reading from the Institute for Media Strategies:

Two recent reports: “Paying for news: Why people subscribe and what it says about the future of journalism” and “Strategic analysis: What is the best monetization/subscription model?” provide complementary insight into the state of the subscription market and how publishers can make it grow.

The first, conducted jointly by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, combines both qualitative and quantitative research to illustrate the size and character of the subscription market in the United States.

The second report, an analysis from the Denmark-based publisher and consultancy Baekdal Media, argues that free and paid content have become two separate, distinct entities. Most publishers find themselves in a middle zone with neither high traffic free content or high value premium content. The report includes advice for getting out of there.

The API/APNORC report provides an array of sometimes surprising facts and figures (53 per cent of US adults pay for news, 52 per cent of those who don’t are ripe to be converted, etc), but also analyses the data and provides insights for increasing subscriptions. Some examples:

  • Subscribers are drawn by specialization and expertise, and they pay when publications excel about subjects about which they particularly care;
  • A significant group of non-subscribers actively search for news rather than passively find it and they resemble subscribers in several ways. These “news seekers” believe there are adequate free sites, but they are not adverse to paying and can be converted with the right approach;
  • Young people are reached through friends’ referrals and social media and publishers should be aware of these dynamics (37 per cent of 18-35 year olds in the US subscribe to news);

The report from Baekdal Media takes a different approach, illustrating its analysis with specific cases of different subscription models employed successfully by a wide variety of companies.

These two studies are unrelated yet provide complementary insights that can help publishers attract subscribers. Understanding the audience is a large part of this, but so is the kind of content provided: both reports, for example, illustrate a growing understanding among audiences about the power of expertise.

Read the API/APNORC report here.

Read the Baekdal report here.

Photo courtesy of maxpixel

 

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