The rapid shift to the paid model for digital access is supported by new data showing why digital subscriptions have become the leading source of new revenues and earnings for many publishers.  

Press+ shared the results of its latest research on best practices for digital subscription models at a quarterly meeting of its affiliate publishers this week. The data revealed a strong industry-wide trend toward stricter limits on free access and higher digital subscription pricing, as publishers have become highly confident in the metered model and readers have adapted to paying for quality journalism content.  

“Subscriptions have become the fastest-growing source of digital revenues online, supplanting advertising, which for many publishers is flat or in decline,” said Press+ co-founder Steven Brill.  

Press+, based in New York and London, powers the digital subscription offerings of more than 450 publishers, a large majority of the publishers with a paid model online. The Press+ analytics team mines the proprietary data aggregated from its publishers to help them maximize their revenues.  

“Press+ started as a technology company and has now also become a ‘Big Data’ company, helping publishers identify best practices,” said Press+ co-founder Gordon Crovitz. “These data are the result of multivariate tests by Press+ publishers of key factors including prices, meters, geo-targeting, bundling of digital and print offers and marketing messaging.”  

Among the findings is that the average price paid for monthly digital subscriptions to publications using the Press+ system has increased 36% over the past two years.

Additional analysis presented at the meeting showed that the average meter level across Press+ publishers fell to eight from 10 since the beginning of this year and from an average of 13 at the beginning of 2012.  More than half of Press+ affiliates now allow five or fewer articles to non-subscribers, a sign that more publishers are going “all in” to charge readers for quality content.
 
Press+ also distributed numerous paid-model benchmarks that will better enable publishers using its system to measure success and identify areas for improvement, including:
  • Average price by product type
  • Average and leading retention rates by product type
  • Average and leading conversion rates by meter level

“Publishers who work with us get the benefit of this group’s data and collective experience,” said Bharat Ayyar, Director of Affiliate Analytics for Press+. “They get insights and best practices that they can immediately use to improve their product offerings, pricing, and marketing efforts.”

In addition, the quarterly meeting featured case studies on best practices and presentations from publishers sharing their best practices for driving engagement, promoting digital subscriptions, and encouraging existing print subscribers to activate digital access.

About RR Donnelley’s Press+:  Conceived in 2009 by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, Press+ has more than 450 newspaper, magazine and online-only Affiliates around the world who have launched their paid content initiatives on its revenue platform including several of the largest U.S. and Canadian newspaper publishing companies: DigitalFirst Media, Tribune Company, GateHouse Media, McClatchy, Lee Enterprises, Halifax Media, and Postmedia. The company was sold to RR Donnelley in 2011, with Brill and Crovitz continuing as co-CEOs.



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