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April 8, 2019 | Lucy Tozer

How Magazines are Learning from Newspapers…

Over the past 12 months we’ve heard how newspapers such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have successfully implemented paid-for subscription strategies and grown their digital subscriber base. What we haven’t heard, is how magazines are doing the same. However, following FIPP’s most recent Digital Subscription Snapshot it looks as though things are starting to change…

New York Times are most definitely the ‘pioneers’ when it comes to growing their subscription revenue and they have bold plans to hit 10 million subscribers by 2025 and recently revealed that they’ve generated $709 million in digital revenue. They saw a significant rise in subscribers following Trump’s inauguration and continued to grow their subscribers by launching popular digital products such as their Cooking and Crossword Apps. So how are magazines looking to follow suit?

More Leading Magazine Brands are Introducing Paywalls

The success that some of the bigger newspaper brands have enjoyed has definitely seen confidence build in making reader revenues work across the magazine sector. In early 2019 Conde Nast revealed that they would be placing all of their titles behind a ‘dynamic’ paywall following lots of experimenting with some of their larger brands over the past few years.

One of their larger titles, The New Yorker, has 167,000 digital only subscribers after launching a metered paywall in 2014. Many of Conde Nast’s titles are sat behind a meter which allows readers to access 4 articles for free each month. Later this year they will introduce a paywall across their other titles including Vogue and GQ.

Are Dynamic Paywalls the Way Forward?

New York Magazine introduced a Dynamic Paywall on their website at the end of November, charging readers $5 per month to access their content. They also offer a $70 annual subscription which provides access to the magazine. Their paywall works by giving readers a certain amount of reading time rather than a certain number of articles. Looking ahead, they’ve hinted at offering additional subscriber benefits including access to exclusive member events.

What makes their paywall ‘dynamic’ is the fact that it will be displayed at different times depending on the reader’s behaviour. For example, they’ve suggested that readers who spend a lot of time consuming their content will see the paywall appear much faster. Other publishers who implement Dynamic Paywalls do so in order to learn more about their readers and build ‘profiles’ so that over time they can deliver personalised paywalls to drive subscriber numbers.

The NYT’s Dynamic Paywall, which allows the publisher to tailor digital subscription offers to different segments of their audience, is undoubtedly proving successful. Over the next 12 months we’ll see more magazine groups experimenting with their own ‘flexible’ subscription solution, enabling them to deliver solutions tailored to their reader’s interests, online behaviours and price sensitivity.