Press+, a subsidiary of RR Donnelley, used sales data for four newspapers in mid-market communities (populations in the low six figures), each with approximately one million unique monthly visitors as measured by Quantcast. One newspaper site with an average of 82 stories posted to the site each day had first month subscription sales of approximately $36,000, while a site with similar traffic but only an average of 21 stories had first month sales of less than $400. A third, similarly-trafficked site with an average of 50 stories had first month sales of approximately $3,000. A fourth site, with an average of 55 stories had sales of slightly more than $3,000. Over time, the site with 82 daily stories sold 10 times as many subscriptions per month as the site with 50 stories a day and sold 15 times as many subscriptions as the newspaper with 20 stories a day.
“We picked these four sites because they presented roughly similar traffic and are in roughly similar communities and offered similar prices,” Crovitz explained. “But not everything, such as marketing messages, was the same,” he added, “and these data are only the beginning of the kind of monitoring we will now be engaging in. We have now launched paid models for more than 360 Affiliates, with hundreds more poised to launch this year. Thus, we expect to have much more data as we reach critical mass. These early data support our belief that meaningful sales can be achieved regardless of the size of a community or the traffic on its site – as long as the content offering is strong. But the converse is also true.”
“While this is all preliminary,” Brill added, “it does suggest a common sense, if sometimes-ignored, reality: If you want to sell journalism, you have to do journalism. So, in addition to working with our Affiliates to suggest best practices in terms of how to set the meter and what kinds of marketing messages and trial offers seem to be working best, we will also be working with those on the lower end of the content scale to encourage them that better, more intense coverage of their communities means more business, and, therefore, that digital subscriptions revenues can help them justify stronger newsrooms.”
The chart and table below depict the findings mentioned in this release. Press+ did not name the websites because it does not disclose confidential information related to specific Affiliates.
About RR Donnelley’s Press+:
Conceived in 2009 by media entrepreneur Steven Brill and former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz, Press+ has hundreds of 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: MediaNews Group, Tribune Company, GateHouse Media, McClatchy, Lee Enterprises, and Postmedia. The company was sold to RR Donnelley in 2011, with Brill and Crovitz continuing as co-CEOs.