Last updateThu, 11 Aug 2022 8am

Just Published: Paid Digital Content

In the future, we will see more complex paid content models than we see today. And in the end, it's not which paid content model you choose that matters. What really makes the difference is how well the chosen method is deployed.

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That's one of the insights from "Paid Digital Content: The Journey Begins", a new report from the Shaping the Future of News Publishing (SFN) project of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, WAN-IFRA.

The report, designed to help news publishers design and implement paid content business models, comes at a time when a vast number of publications are adopting a wide variety of digital paid content models, from "freemium," to metered and hard paywall.

"Paid Digital Content" provides a history of digital content development, a step-by-step guide through the process, case studies from a variety of companies and countries, lessons learned, and tips from the New York Times that can be transferred to any market.

"As an organisation with a long history in the industry, WAN-IFRA has seen many experiments during the past 15 years aimed at making digital users pay for editorial content and services produced by publishing companies," said Valérie Arnould, Business Editor for Emerging Digital Platforms & Business Development at WAN-IFRA.

"It's easy to criticise the news industry for not having tried hard enough with paid content models in the past. The reality is that to succeed in paid content, there was a need for a conjunction of factors, ranging from Internet penetration and the right technologies to having a mass penetration of e-commerce usage.

"That said, our industry did not learn from the rise of other pure digital players and took far too much time to understand this opportunity. And one could only regret that the essential driver for taking action has been losing revenue on core print business," she said.

"It's now the right time to let people pay for content and include that source of revenue in the company digital strategy," she said. "And it's also worth starting because the whole strategic thinking, preparation and launch process is extremely interesting and healthy for any news company. From top management to the entire team, it's inspiring and unveiling many opportunities and unexploited valuable assets."

This report is the result of collaborations and exchanges with many professionals who agreed to share their ideas and knowledge on paid digital content, including: Paul Smurl, New York Times Company, USA; John Stackhouse and Alon Marcovici, The Globe and Mail, Canada; Ali Rahnema, The Toronto Star, Canada; Federico Vittadello, Former RCS Media Media Group, now Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy; Brooke Christofferson, Republic Media (The Arizona Republic/azcentral.com/12 News), Gannett, USA; Jeff Moriarty, The Boston Globe and Boston.com, USA; Donata Hopfen, Bild Digital, Germany; Martina Lenk, Madsack Online, Germany; Thomas Schultz-Homberg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany; Stephen Pinches, The Financial Times, UK; Anthony Sullivan, The Guardian, UK; Ken Doctor, Newsonomics, USA; WAN-IFRA Frenemies consultants Kalle Jungkvist, Gregor Waller and Stig Nordqvist; WAN-IFRA executive programs members of eRev and SoMoNews Matthew Skibinski and the Press + team, USA; Amaury Group teams (L'Equipe and Le Parisien), France.



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