We previously established that political news was one of the key factors when it came to making readers pay for content, and in this blog, we’ll once again analyse what is making readers pay, and how publishers are being even more innovative in getting readers to part with their money.
Finland’s largest digital daily, Helsingin Sanomat has recently revealed that the number of subscribers paying for their digital services has surpassed the 200,000 mark. This triumph is even more impressive, when you realise that the entire population of Finland is only 5.5 million. Senior Editor-In-Chief, Kaius Niemi states that “As many as 58 per cent of our subscribers are paying for digital content. This will ensure a bright future for us, even in the event that the demand for the print version of our newspaper decreases.”
What’s interesting about Helsingin is their digital approach. Helsingin have fully embraced the shift from print to digital media, and developed a concept called Diamond Stories. Diamond Stories are digital-only articles that have played a hand in the accelerated growth of digital subscriptions. Generating an astonishing one million visits per day, the digital strategy is paying dividends with all kinds of readers, attracting “New paid customers including readers who are younger than our existing readership and who live outside of the Helsinki region.”- Says Niemi
Niemi keeps stressing points about skilfully written articles that provide readers with unique content that simply aren’t available anywhere else. Readers read once, and are hooked. He continues to add, “We have proved that younger people are willing to pay for high-quality digital content. This is an educational project for us. We want to ensure that future generations will also have access to content that inspires thinking and increases understanding.
What I personally like about Helsingin’s strategy is the fact that they’ve realised they have a demand for a service and are fully utilising it. They aren’t afraid to commit to a digital future, and they’re also following trends by targeting younger readers/ millennials, which is certainly a strategy that we’ve seen used before.
It’s almost become taboo to talk about Facebook in the publishing industry. Nevertheless, Facebook stirred the pot and did something uncharacteristic this week, by announcing that readers will soon be able to subscribe to publications after reading their stories in Facebook’s Instant Articles WITHOUT taking a cut. It seems like Facebook are doing the right thing and are trying to aid publishers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed these reports in a post on Wednesday, by stating ““If people subscribe after seeing news stories on Facebook, the money will go directly publishers who work hard to uncover the truth, and Facebook won't take a cut.” Facebook stated that they plan to use a small group of publishers in the United States and Europe later this year, and then will act on their feedback.
I think that this is a countermeasure taken by Facebook due to recent publishers condemning and moving away from Facebook and Instant Articles. This news is very interesting, particularly as it coincides with Facebook also announcing that they will post publishers’ logos beside their articles in a bid to fight fake news.
But the point you have to consider when seeing this surprising change of stance from Facebook is have they realised about footfall? If Facebook can finally tackle fake news, and prove to be a reliable source of information, readers will flock to the site, and this is exactly what they want. They want to be a reputable source, and by being a reputable source comes an increase in reliability, trust, and therefore page views.
It’s nice to see that Facebook is finally giving back to publishers after saturating the market so much. The two examples covered are from two different perspectives and you can’t really compare them, but I can’t stress enough the importance of the developments coming out of Facebook. Helsingin’s digital strategy however is still something to admire. By analysing current trends and targeting a specific audience, they too seem to be in good stead for the future.