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Oct 15, 2018

Balancing subscriptions and advertising

Most publishers have moved to subscriptions, and besides learning how to deal with users as clients instead of readers, one key task is to balance the interest of making a visitor a subscriber/increase loyalty of a subscriber versus squeezing out the maximum value of one hard-earned visit. The latter means playing out as many ads as possible, trying to increase the number of page or video views per visit, even at the cost of maybe annoying a visitor. The NYT rolled out a new article page in May 2018, with far less clutter, focusing on the subscription side - create a pleasing visit, and at some point this will increase the chances to make someone pay.

But since both areas contribute substantially to revenue, finding the balance between a subscription and ad focus is difficult. The Washington Post is running a user lab that initially tested new journalistic formats and products, but has now taken ads into their portfolio, too: One key to strike the balance may lie in ad formats that are not annoying or intrusive, but still valuable to advertisers. Everyone should have thought of that even before subscriptions were a business.