How subscription publishers are trying to make paying for content a habit for young people
Subscription publishers are targeting people between 18 and 24 years old, adapting content, tone, marketing and accessibility of their products to that audience to foster the habit of subscribing.
Before The Telegraph launched its premium product in 2016, when it put 20 percent of its content behind a paywall, it targeted an audience over 35. Now, the publisher said the fastest-growing subscriber segment is between 18 and 34 years old. This is partly due to its app, which was redesigned when the paywall launched with a younger audience in mind, according to Robert Bridge, chief customer officer at The Telegraph. According to Bridge, the app drives the highest conversion rate of readers to subscribers.
“Media companies are concerned about their age profile across print and digital. The fear is young people aren’t going to grow into the tradition of subscribing,” said Nic Newman, editor of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report. “There’s a huge battle at the quality end of the market and an intense push for the same people. Everyone is aware of how important that [18-24-year-old] group of the next leaders is. The difficulty is the intense competition in the market and the price points.”
While a common misconception in the industry that people in the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket won’t pay for content, particularly news, data from the Reuters Institute Digital News Report from October found that the proportion of people willing to pay across age groups is flat. Although paying for online news is still rare, 3 percent of people in the U.K. paid for news in the last year, and 54 percent say the reason for not paying for news is because they can get it for free elsewhere, according to Reuters.
The Economist has been more strategic in running campaigns targeted at students for the last two years. During September 2017, it ran a content-led marketing campaign featuring articles about the future of work as well as events at universities. Visitors to the future of work content hub are targeted with ads about the publisher’s subscription offer, featuring consistent creative, design and copy — such as “Some trends need more than a hashtag” — targeted to that demographic.
In January, the Financial Times expanded its free-access-to-schools initiative internationally, believing students are likely to be interested in FT content if it’s relevant to what they’re learning at school. In the U.K., where the initiative launched in June 2017 with Lloyds Bank as a sponsor, over 16,000 students and teachers from over 1,500 schools have unlimited access to FT.com. Schools in over 70 countries have also signed up. This type of sampling — access to the brand during school — should increase chances that people will subscribe when they leave, but less than a year into the program, the publisher said it was too early to glean any evidence.
The difficulty for media owners targeting the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket is bridging the price gap between content that can be accessed for free online and a typical monthly subscription rate of £26 ($36.55), while this demographic is used to paying half as much for other content subscriptions like Netflix or Spotify, said Newman.
While publishers have experimented with products that fit somewhere in between these price points, like New York Times NYT Now app, few have survived, said Newman, mostly because they end up cannibalizing the core news product, which needs to be kept at a sufficiently high price point.
Equally, it’s hard to police giving away a cheaper product to someone who is 24, for example, whereas letting students sign up to the product with a specific email address while they’re studying, similar to the FT’s model, is easier.
All publishers adapt news content to make it accessible to younger audiences on social platforms, and subscription publishers have long used social media to build up awareness without an immediate expectation that audiences will subscribe. Over the last three months on Snapchat, The Telegraph has reached an average of 4.9 million users a month through content created by the same team working on its app, said Bridge.
“When you consider that 33 percent of this [Snapchat] audience is aged between 18 and 24 and 31 percent under 17, we are talking about significant impact,” he said. “Snapchat is a brand play over an acquisition play. Our strategy is long-term: encouraging users, when ready, into the next best product — in this case, the app.”
‘Total whack a mole’: Rogue political ads create mounting brand safety problems for publishers
The political ads flowing through open exchanges are creating a brand safety dilemma, despite the safeguards put in place.
‘An election night that could last weeks’: How news publishers are updating their digital strategies for the results long haul
Before they are able to make their call on who wins the presidency, news publishers could have a month-and-a-half past Nov.3 to compete for audiences.
‘Asymmetrical in every sense’: The latest console wars see Sony and Microsoft pursue diverging battle plans
The console wars are back, setting the stage for the latest bout in the long-running battle between Sony’s Playstation and Microsoft’s Xbox brands.
SponsoredB2B events were broken before the pandemic, their online reinvention is creating positive change
Kim Darling, executive producer, Inbound Farewell lanyards, business cards and branded pens — it’ll be some time before people get their hands on these souvenirs of in-person events again. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to transform the way people work, buy, sell, socialize and entertain themselves, the global events industry is facing its biggest-ever challenge. […]
‘Walk before you run’: Sports publishers look to blow out their betting content
Over the past 12 months, several large sports media brands have signed partnership deals with sports books
‘It’s a virtuous cycle’: Audiences and advertisers seek health and wellness content and publishers are seeing green
Publishers are building new content products that give audiences more health and wellness content and advertisers more partner opportunities.