Monday, May 1, 2017

Newspaper Publishers: 3 Ways to Improve Your Digital Revenue

As a newspaper publisher, you know that growing your digital revenue will be key to a viable future. In my graduate-level studies in Northwestern University's online Integrated Marketing Communications program, I have found two articles on how publishers are ramping up their digital subscriptions that will help inform your decisions.

Esther Kezia Harding provides a deep dive into the successful trail the Financial Times has blazed online in her article “Truth, trust, transparency: the FT’s approach to a sustainable future” in The Media Briefing. The Financial Times' approach is built on having a direct relationship with their audience, which informs their approach to both breaking news events and long-term brand messaging. Chief Commercial Officer Jon Slade tells Harding that the Financial Times was well-positioned to benefit from such major news events as Brexit and Donald Trump's election because of their focus on quick, deep news analysis. Moreover, they have teams working around the clock to change subscription offers in response to real-time web traffic.

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A newer media outlet, the digital publisher Quartz, turned a profit from online advertising after four years, as Matthew Flamm writes for Advertising Age in "Mobile-Focused Startup Quartz Manages toActually Turn a Profit on Digital Journalism." The key to their success? Pursuing an elite readership. With a clean design free from pop-ups, banner ads and other visual junk, Quartz has positioned itself well for advertising from prestige brands who want to reach the "right" audience. Their rates are at the top end of the market, according to the article, because they offer a distinctive news product.

From my graduate studies in the Northwestern Medill IMC program and my review of these two publications, I have developed three key lessons to help you ramp up digital revenue.  They are:  
  • Seek quality readers - Pursue the highest-value audience for your publication to earn more from subscribers and advertisers.
  • Push real-time marketing - Be prepared to adjust offers when traffic spikes happen.
  • Value your content - Your main selling point is the quality of your journalism, and what makes it special to your readers.
      By focusing on quality journalism, and selling that journalism to the right audience, as these two publications are, you will be able to chart a path for your publication into the future for years to come.


    Bridget Thoreson is a digital marketer, journalist and graduate student at Northwestern University. Contact me through Twitter or LinkedIn.


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