INMA brings new model to replace the declining print business model

INMA Media Subscriptions Week, which was organised recently in London, had drawn a conclusion based on the presentations and feedbacks from ‘The Media Subscriptions Blueprint’ report. The conclusion said ‘freemium’, a business model whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for, is emerging as the most popular choice for publishers in trouble of declined print circulations.

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Steep decline of printed newspapers is not yet an outbreak in India. But it’s not that it will never happen in the country in future. For news media companies in the overseas markets whose circulations of printed copies have been declined to a great extent INMA recently organised ‘Media Subscriptions Week’ in London in which the association presented a new business model to replace the declining print business model of news media publishers, punctuated by a survey of participants from Europe and America.

As publishers increasingly embrace the art and science behind the economics of content, INMA Media Subscription Week presented ‘The Media Subscriptions Blueprint’ report which said ‘freemium’ model for digital subscriptions is clearly emerging as the most popular choice for publishers. Attended by more than 230 delegates from 33 countries at Reuters headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf, the summit featured 15 global best-in-class case studies on digital subscriptions. The summit was augmented by a two-day study tour of London media houses at the forefront of the digital subscription revolution: The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, Financial Times, Immediate Media, and Sky Media.

Earl J Wilkinson, Executive Director and CEO, INMA said that the cutting across four days of summit, study tour, survey, and moderated group discussions, INMA’s Media Subscription Week concluded that the biggest indicators of digital subscription over-performance are the adoption of a clear growth mission, a unified company-wise approach, deep knowledge or strong hypothesis about valuable audience segments, and a membership mindset as the foundation on which subscriptions can be built.

Seven themes

Across 25 case studies, seven keynote presentations, a 40-question benchmark survey, interaction with 230 participants from 33 countries, the INMA summit

found the cutting edge on seven broad themes.

1. Value Proposition: While content is often the trigger for a subscriber relationship, publishers must realise that community, cause, and convenience are arguably equally important in the emerging subscription game.
2. Freemium: The rise of data in media companies provides publishers more options on when and how to lock content. The freemium model is displacing the metered model, which is best for high quality and high quantity content ecosystems.
3. Moving to dynamic: A personalised dynamic model and hybrid freemium/meter models will soon displace simpler models.
4. Cultural galvaniser: Digital subscriptions are not a task for a department. They work best when there is a clear growth mission and a total-company approach.
5. Where newsrooms fit: Newsroom participation amid the art and science of content economics helps maximise digital subscription success.
6. Improving retention through engagement: Companies far down the road of digital subscriptions are finding that while there is upside in sales efforts, the next growth wave will be retaining subscribers at a higher rate through tactics that are just now emerging.
7. Authentic voice content: While surveys and best practices point to varying genres that trigger subscriptions, the one commonality no matter a global brand or a community brand is content with an authentic voice.

Looking to change models

Roughly 41 percent of survey participants at the INMA summit were unhappy with their paid content model, while 34 percent said their model has met expectations and 25 percent said it has exceeded expectations.

Freemium satisfaction

The freemium model represented 54 percent of paid models among survey participants – and the highest levels of satisfaction, with 80 percent and 82 percent of minor and major freemium lock-down model participants, respectively, reporting freemium either met or exceeded expectations.

Metered dissatisfaction

Few publishers are reporting satisfaction with meters. While 34 percent of survey participants use a metered model, the performance of that model falls below expectations both for porous meter users (57 percent) and strict meter users (75 percent). The porous metered model represents the most chaotic responses: Some 29 percent of survey respondents said their porous metered model has exceeded expectations, while 57 percent said it performed below expectations.

The summit featured case studies from The New York Times, News UK’s The Times and The Sunday Times, Boston Globe Media, Amedia, Politiken, Fairfax Media, Dagens Nyheter, Helsingin Sanomat, Aftenposten, Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), Financial Times, BILD, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal – each with a slightly different model yet with common themes that contributed to INMA conclusions.

INMA has scheduled its 2nd Annual Media Subscriptions Week on March 18-22, 2019, in Stockholm.

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