How Politico Europe grew its subscriptions business by 50 percent in 2018

Politico Europe is hitting its stride with subscriptions revenue.

The publisher rolled out six paid-for products in 2018, leading to 50 percent growth in revenue compared to 2017.

Last year, Politico Europe generated just under €20 million ($23 million) in revenue, and just under half of that comes from subscriptions, according to the publisher. The rest comes from a mix of advertising and events revenue. That puts the publisher on track to easily break even this year.

That subscriptions growth has been as much thanks to the data and resource tools developed for subscribers as it has to pure editorial packages. Last summer, the publisher bought data-mining technology from a Swedish startup called Statehill, which now forms the foundation of its latest subscriptions product Pro Intelligence launched last fall.

Pro Intelligence mines the internet for all publicly available online sources relevant to businesses that track European Union and national legislative and political developments. The tool then presents the information in a feed within a single dashboard, alongside all relevant Politico newsletters and editorial stories. Users can customize their dashboards by setting up their preferred key terms. For instance, if a person wants to track all data protection developments, their dashboard will pull in all legislative updates related to that. They can view anything from the latest debates and transcripts of individual ministers regarding the topics they search for, to legal updates on ongoing court cases, outcomes of electoral votes as soon as they’re published, to social media tweets relating to policy changes or specific ministers they wish to monitor.

Since its launch in 2015, Politico Europe’s editorial mandate has been to present news and analysis on heavyweight political and policymaking topics easily digestible and jargon-free for readers. To maintain this with its Pro Intelligence product, which pulls in vast numbers of external governmental documents, the publisher’s editorial content is also integrated within the dashboard, to give useful context and help explain the importance behind certain documents and updates, according to Johannes Boege, chief product officer at Politico Europe.

European Union and country-specific legislative updates and information are by nature, dry, difficult to find, spread out and fragmented across numerous government websites and countries. The hope is that Politico’s tool helps subscribers dodge lengthy online searches for this information, becoming a one-stop shop for policymakers who want to both read the news and news analysis, and access all relevant external information to their fields within a single dashboard, added Boege.

The tool has millions of searchable documents: 24 million votes, 700 000 amendments, 16,000 legislators, and 7 million searchable items, according to the publisher. The documentation archives date back to the first European Parliament session in 1979. Subscribers can request for new sources and features to be added. The two founders of Statehill also work within the Politico team and respond to subscriber queries via a live chat feature within the Pro Intelligence tool.

To use Pro Intelligence, users need at least one existing Pro subscriptions package.  The tool also integrates Politico’s data visualization tool DataPoint, launched last year.

Politico Pro expanded to include a Brexit Pro which spans multiple verticals in 2017. Last year, the publisher also introduced four more Pro editorial products, each with a wide topic area that is relevant to all sectors: Data and Digitization Pro, Sustainability Pro, Competition Pro and EU Budget Pro.

Each Pro package has a minimum entry point of €7,000 ($8,000), which allows for up five logins for a business, and the price goes up for every five more logins added up to the low six-figures.

“We’ll continue to invest in pure editorial products, but we have seen the potential of combining data and journalism within a single product,” said Boege.“People would typically have to use a range of monitoring tools to get this kind of information but having the data and insights, news, tech and political expertise in one place, saves policy professionals precious time.”

Having such useful products also helps keep churn in the low single digits. “Our churn rates are very stable; we have a renewal rate of over 90 percent,” he added.

Politico Europe, which is a joint venture between Politico and Axel Springer, has hit a sweet spot by targeting organizations, rather than individuals, with products, allowing it to charge high subscriptions fees, according to Alice Pickthall, an analyst at media analysis firm Enders. “Fifty percent certainly seems like impressive growth,” she said. “Politico has filled a gap in the market for high-level European political analysis. With the European Parliamentary elections and Brexit this year, we would expect subs to grow as they will become indispensable to some businesses.”

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