‘The New York Times’ Sees A Subscription Surge

21. August 2018.

Digital Subscription Lessons For Digital News

In shaping its subscription strategy, The Times looks to the business models of non-news subscription services like Netflix, Spotify and Amazon for some inspiration.

“We have a lot to learn from digital-first subscription businesses … [such as] the digital experiences that they’ve built and the way they’ve rallied around that subscription-first mentality,” Gurian-Peck said. This digital-first approach is helping The Times connect and engage with subscribers.

The company is also improving its direct marketing strategy by using data science to better understand how subscribers are engaging with The Times. It then uses that information to encourage engagement.

“[As we get] more sophisticated … with our targeting, [we’ll know] which messages to put in front of which readers at what point in their lifecycle,” he said, “so we can serve their needs and serve our business goals.” This includes sending readers news stories relevant to their interests, and using data to choose the best times during a reader’s subscription term to encourage them to download The Times’ app.

“Building that level of sophistication in our messaging, and using data science to power that, is where we’re headed,” he said.

The Times and other news organizations must continue to adjust their strategies to keep consumers engaged, but the recent surge in paid subscriptions has revealed an important piece of information: There are consumers who are willing to pay for their news.

“It’s really rewarding to see that there’s a clear consumer willingness to pay for [journalism],” Gurian-Peck said. “There’s no doubt the news climate over the past couple of years has increased the willingness to pay.”

For that momentum to continue, news organizations must demonstrate that they are producing news that’s fit to print, and pair top-flight journalism with data and technology to win and secure subscribers.

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