Diversifying revenue was top-of-mind at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail Colorado. Set against the backdrop of a quaint alpine village, powder skiing, oxygen recovery stations, cocktails, and snowball flights, FT Strategies heard from publishers both on and off the stage. Here are the key things we found interesting:
1. Change your site experience to boost revenue
One story we loved was from the Atlantic, who have a fairly simple yet effective way of ensuring both subscriptions and advertising targets are met by year end. By keeping a close relationship with their CRO, Megha Garibaldi, Chief Growth Officer, described how she relaxes the paywall when they have a high sell through rate to capitalise on the ad revenue. By keeping revenue and experience, the advertising and subs teams are able to work together to keep overall revenue high.
At the other end of the complexity spectrum, we heard from Nina Gould, Chief Product Officer at Forbes, who scores each reader with an LTV for each product (subscription, advertising, events, ecommerce), as well as an aggregate LTV. This allows them to vary the site experience depending on what they want that user to do next.
Personalising the site experience, whether at an aggregate level like the Atlantic, or at an individual user level from Forbes, is not a new topic, but remains an important one. Read more on personalisation capabilities in this article.
2. AI...friend or foe?
Everyone’s watching AI – but very few have decided what it means for the media industry. Are we all out of jobs? Can we use it to cut costs? Adam McClean, Chief Product Officer at Dotdash Meredith talked about the possibility of using AI for automating some marketing functions, but said that they do not intend on using it just yet. Another said that they could see it being used to write copy / automate marketing material generation, from a marketing perspective, rather than an editorial one.
We also heard about new interesting products and applications popping up, such as those from Miso.ai, leveraging GPT technology to create a ‘Ask our publication anything’ function, using reliable sources for the content (we’ve seen a demo, it’s very cool). Read more on this topic in our latest article, Three ways that generative AI is starting to influence your customer’s behaviour and expectations.
Whilst not essential, first party data was highlighted as a key proponent of using AI, and with lots of publishers building their own models, first party data collection and management becomes even more important. To hear FT Strategies expert advice on first party data watch this on-demand webinar.
3. Get to know your customers really well
We’ve heard publishers personify their readers before, but none so engaging as theSkimm who have such a clear sense of their audience, and speak about ‘her’ and what ‘she’ needs, you feel as though she is in the room with you. Mary Murcko, Chief Revenue Officer, said that by really understanding their millennial female audience (who control 82% of consumer spending in the US by the way), they are able to build new experiences to meet their needs.
The Atlantic, with their goal of reaching 1,000,000 subscribers, speaks directly to their readers about their content, the process, and explaining their commitment to topics that matter to them, for example, political extremism. By letting their readers into their business, they’re able to more effectively ask for their support via subscription.
Another initiative from the Atlantic was an experiment to “wake up the dormants”. Hailey Smith, Associate Director of Marketing at Skift, the leading travel industry publication corroborated the difficulty in re-engaging readers who seem to have lost interest. The answer? Don’t let the dormants fall asleep in the first place. You can read more on FT Strategies’s top tips for engaging readers here.
Daisy joined FT Strategies from Reuters where she was Director of Global Customer Experience overseeing their website and reader revenue.
Before that, she spent over eight years leading customer research teams in London and New York at the Financial Times and beyond, working closely with the B2B sales and product teams to define key strategic research initiatives. She has an EMBA from the IE Business School, Madrid.