GWADS Promotional Award

2019 Award Submissions
Digital Subscriber Growth

Bay Area News Group

Paywall Strategy

City: San Jose, CA
Daily audited circulation size: 310,217
Sunday audited circulation size: 471,130

Objective

To significantly grow paid digital subscriptions

Strategy

In 2017, we moved toward the paywall strategy to gain more digital subscribers. This went in place for our top two news websites, EastBayTimes.com and MercuryNews.com. This was a big change in our business model as previously we had given our online content away for free.

Response Method

Users responded by entering our sales funnel via our subscription panels.

Target Goal

CY 2018 goal: 19,400 digital subscribers
Q1 2019 goal: 20,700 digital subscribers

Timelines

Our paywall was first applied on 12/6/2017 with 20 free articles available. On 1/10/2018, we lowered it to 10 free articles. On 2/1/2018, we lowered the paywall to 5 free articles in a 30 day period before a user hits the paywall. We are still currently at that level of free articles.

Channels used for promotion

Our main source of paywall subscribers came from the Connext modals that would pop up during a user’s experience. The modal experience includes a thin banner at pg 1, a midway modal at pg view 4 and the hard paywall at pg 6.

Results

Other metrics contributing to success
Fly by traffic to our sites
Social article pushes to our website

Results

CY 2018 results: 19,357 digital subscribers
Q1 2019 results: 21,976 digital subscribers

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Paywall Implementation

City: Las Vegas, NV
Daily audited circulation size: 90,865
Sunday audited circulation size: 109,657

Objective

The objective of this campaign was to increase digital subscriptions by implementing a paywall on reviewjournal.com on September 5th, 2018.

Strategy

Limit all users to 5 articles per month and offer them a low introductory rate that increases after their first two months (99 cents per month for the first two months, $8.99/month thereafter).

• Design modals with a “Support Local Journalism” CTA
• Redesign checkout page so that it’s more appealing to the eye
• Implement Google address suggestion on checkout page to limit form fields
• Set up a cart abandonment campaign for users who don’t finish their checkout

Results

Since Paywall Launch:

• 5,186 digital subscription starts vs. 1,153 stops, +4,033
• 4,972 active paid digital subscribers as of April 18, 2019
• Increased digital subscriber revenue by 200% since paywall launch
• Averaging 81% retention 26 weeks after start.

The Register-Guard

Use Local Stories to Demonstrate Digital Value

City: Eugene, OR
Daily audited circulation size: 31,709
Sunday audited circulation size: 34,927

Objective

The objective of this 7-day campaign in March 2019 was to gain new subscribers for The Register-Guard’s portfolio of digital products: registerguard.com, DuckSports.com, the print-replica e-Edition, and our RG News and DuckSports apps. We wanted to demonstrate the value of a digital subscription by showing important local stories with high audience interest that would catch the attention of potential subscribers. We also wanted to reach a younger target market with this messaging.

Strategy

We looked at recent stories on The Register-Guard’s Facebook page which were getting the most engagement. We put five of them, with compelling photos and captions indicative of the story, in a carousel on Facebook and Instagram. The stories covered a broad range of topics of high interest to our local market. We offered a strong introductory price point of only 99¢ for a month of unlimited digital access. The ad clicked directly to a special page which gave another reason to subscribe: After the first month the monthly price would be only $7.99 per month, a savings of 38% off the regular price. We budgeted a maximum of $30 a day, or a total of $210 for the week of advertising.

Results

The promotion generated 37 new starts in the week. This particular rate was only used for this campaign on Facebook and Instagram so we can attribute all these starts to this promotion. We are extremely pleased with the $5.67 cost per order. We intend to repeat similar promotions in the future.

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