The Trump bump: Slate’s paying membership jumps 46 percent after the election
Trump is turning out to be good business for Slate.
Along with other news organizations, the culture and politics site has had a big boost in subscribers in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. Since Election Day, its Slate Plus premium membership service has shot up 46 percent to 26,700 members.
Gabe Roth, head of Slate Plus, said that membership in the 2-year-old program had shown “steady, unspectacular growth” until the election. Slate had already discounted the annual price a couple months earlier, to $35 from $50, and with Trump’s victory, started more explicitly pitching the program as a call to arms to help Slate keep him accountable.
At those rates, Slate Plus annual revenue could approach $1.3 million, enough for Slate to think about adding a fourth dedicated staffer to the program.
“People are suddenly alarmed at the incoming administration,” Roth said. “People are newly aware of the importance of having independent sources of media that are unafraid to say directly what’s going on. And they respect what Slate’s political team has done and want to make sure we can keep doing it.”
One of the questions publishers have to figure out with a paywall is how much content to put behind the wall. With Slate Plus, Slate opted to keep its site free while giving members perks like ad-free podcasts, members-only stories and discounts to live events. What’s happened is that Slate has realized that part of the value of its content is being able to share it with others. (Journalists also have been known to chafe at paywalls because it means their articles will reach a limited audience, although Roth said that wasn’t an issue for Slate’s writers.)
So Slate Plus plans to regularly use some of its newfound revenue to fund political and investigative journalism that will be freely available on the site but marked as being made possible by Slate Plus. Starting in the next week or so, there will be a regular weekly feature, big investigations and a weekly roundup newsletter, This Week in Trump, produced this way.
Creating more free content helps Slate’s ad-supported site, which it’s still committed to growing. As for whether making more of its journalism available for free will discourage people from subscribing, Julia Turner, Slate’s editor-in-chief, said the same benefits would still be available to Slate Plus members only. “We want the stories to have as broad an audience as possible,” she said.
Slate’s experience is instructive as publishers are searching for new paywall models with ad revenue becoming harder to come by. While a handful of media organizations have managed to succeed in getting people to pay for online news, they’re in the minority.
Slate has an advantage over commodity news sites in that it has a core of loyal readers, which it’s been cultivating by trying to drive more direct traffic to the site. Roth said the retention rate has been strong, and some “non-trivial number” opt to contribute above and beyond the annual fee, although, of course, there’s no guarantee the growth will continue at the rate it has, especially since Slate plans to end the discounted rate soon. Roth expressed confidence that the increase isn’t temporary, though.
“It’s tremendously encouraging to all the people here to feel like people are responding and finding value to it to the point where they’re making a contribution,” Roth said.
LG’s ad unit to offer guarantees on outcomes with CTV ad buys
LG's ad sales arm plans to offer advertisers guaranteed outcome-based ad avails, and claims to be the first provider to do so.
‘The liberation of the workplace’: Industry experts sound off on 2022, the year of the ‘Shecovery’
As the pandemic rages on, companies look to reverse course on the 'Shecession.'
How The Newsette’s founder earned $40M for the media company in 2021
Daniella Pierson diversified her newsletter business by building a creative agency to better serve the media company's advertising clients.
SponsoredInfographic: The future of CTV measurement
Connected TV has been inarguably one of the top marketing stories of 2021. As advertisers get ready for 2022, the great CTV shift has brought with it a slew of measurement challenges — with inconsistent metrics being chief among them. The good news is that CTV works and works well, and there is a bevy […]
‘Inaccurate and inflammatory’: Google moves to have Texas AG-led antitrust case dismissed
Google has rebuked charges that it compels publishers to use its ad server, manipulates ad auctions and colluded with Facebook as it moves to have antitrust charges dismissed.
‘Still understanding that behavior’: What BuzzFeed learned from a year of livestream shopping
BuzzFeed's shoppable live streams were watched for more than 1 million minutes in 2021.