| NAA mediaXchange is the largest annual gathering of industry executives in North America, offering unprecedented networking opportunities that combine an exchange of information and ideas with programming designed to generate results. The conference is designed to provide valuable ideas and insights to help newspaper professionals grow audience and revenue for their print and digital products. Sessions highlight leading-edge thinking about media strategies, successes in product and revenue development, new ideas and innovation inside and outside the industry, and tactics and techniques to employ in print and digital.
Paid Content Strategies: Are they working?
By Varun Saxena
Paid content strategies are "sure as hell better," Chris Peck, editor of the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, told the audience at this session Tuesday afternoon.
Before moving toward paid Internet content, revenue at the paper had fallen by 50 percent, and the website received "a lot of eyeballs but not enough revenue," he said.
Now, the paper charges $9.99 a month for smartphone and tablet computer apps, and content has contributed $400,000 in new revenue in its first four months.
Tasaka Digital consultant Guy Tasaka helped to design the Commercial Appeal's strategy. He said it was focused on retaining paid print subscribers by bundling digital content with the print subscription.
Tasaka and Peck said they expect the trend toward more paid electronic content to continue. Peck cited a study which found that 26 percent of American households have a tablet.
"The budget isn't the enemy. Time is," Tasaka said.
Robert Gursha, vice president of marketing for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, also reported that charging for digital content is a winning strategy.
The keys are to have a strong brand name, relevant and differentiated content, and a sound pricing strategy, he said.
The Star Tribune uses a "step up" price strategy, meaning the cost of digital content rises after the trial period, he said.
The newspaper has increased the price of home delivery by 10 percent and included access to electronic content. Sunday-only print subscribers pay extra for digital content.
The Star Tribune has 132,000 digital accounts and has experienced 24 consecutive months of circulation growth, Gursha said.
In the past advertising, accounted for 75 percent of Star Tribune revenues, with subscriptions accounting for the remainder, but Gursha said subscriptions will contribute half of future revenue.
The Boston Globe started charging for content in September 2011 and owns boston.com. This approach allows the company to reach casual readers and charge serious ones, said Peter Doucette, the newspaper's director of circulation, sales and marketing.
Lisa DeSisto, Boston.com's chief advertising officer, said it's a challenge to promote the Globe's content on the site without undermining its fee-for-service model.
Varun Saxena is a student at the University of Maryland. He is one of several local university journalism students reporting live from NAA mediaXchange 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Apr 03 2012, 05:26 PM
About Amanda Knowles
Amanda Knowles is Web & Social Media Manager at the Newspaper Association of America. Before coming to NAA, Amanda spent four years working in print journalism, both at the college and professional level. She has worked as a copy editor and news page designer for two daily newspapers in northwestern Pennsylvania, The Erie Times-News and The Meadville Tribune. Most recently, she collaborated on The American Observer, the online magazine edited and produced by graduate journalism students at American University in Washington, D.C. Amanda believes strongly in the secure future of the newspaper, and is excited to be a participant in the movement to integrate traditional print media into the burgeoning digital world.