Implementing a data wall has been one of the most popular ways for publishers to maximise their monetisation efforts. Of course, we take a keen interest in these different strategies that are being experimented with, and ultimately which ones turn out to be successful and fruitful. What this blog will aim to do is compare different strategies from different publishers, and ultimately let you make the final decision of how to successfully make the most out of your data.


Since launching it’s digital its digital subscriptions programme in 2003, the Swedish newspaper owned by Schibsted has acquired 250,000 digital subscribers. Now you may think that that’s not necessarily dizzying numbers, however if we take into consideration that the population of Sweden is only 10 million people, the numbers look a whole lot more impressive. Aftonbladet was extremely profitable last year, in their latest financials, they stated that they made a whopping $32 million profit last year. So how exactly does a newspaper with 250,000 subscribers become so profitable?


Aftonbladet has implemented a freemium model what this essentially means is that all general news and opinion articles that their editorial team create are free to access. They then in turn have a subscription model, named Aftonbladet Plus, and subscribers to this will in turn receive more in depth features and behind the scenes editorials. Only about 6-8% of all the content that Aftonbladet produce features in the Plus Subscriptions. Around 25 articles daily are produced for Plus subscribers. One point to keep in mind is how Aftonbladet uses sports coverage to help drive their subscriptions. They’ve done this by enabling Plus subscribers to have access to additional sports related products, such as the Sportbladet e-magazine.


The nitty gritty begins behind data analysis. Data analysis plays a very important role in aiding the plus team focus their editorial and product efforts. Aftonbladet use in house technology that can closely monitor reading habits of both free access readers and subscribers on their plus plan. The Plus team can in turn study which articles get the most traffic, and create individual newsletters exclusively for their subscribers around topics that have seen large traffic spikes.


Ted Kudinoff, Aftonbladet Plus editor-in-chief stated, “Our journalists now work very closely with our CRM [customer relationship management] teams to do this… They can see from our dashboards what topics are driving a lot of traffic, as well as what topics are converting subscribers, and that will lead to us making a newsletter dedicated to that topic.” Read more on Aftonbladet here


Other examples


There are many other examples of publishers implementing a reader revenue model of some sort, and it seems like they’ve all come at once. Now there are many reasons why this seems to be the case; for one publishers are actually realising the benefits of subscription models by looking at their competitors and also want a piece of the pie, or secondly perhaps but also to reduce their dependency on the duopoly. According to a report from Axel Springer, the latter is more likely to be the case. Axel Springer conducted a survey, which consisted of 33 publishers, amongst these were major players, such as The Guardian, Financial Times, Le Figaro, Schibsted, Axel Springer’s Bild and Business Insider, along with U.S. titles including The New York Times.


The findings of the report state that publishers are feeling much more optimistic about the future of subscription models, with 70% of respondents saying that they have evidence that readers’ willingness to pay for content has increased in the past year. When speaking about this topic, Stefan Betzold -managing director of Bild Digital- stated that “Unlike ad revenue, where the big platforms like Facebook and Google take such a large proportion, digital readership revenues and the relationships we can develop with readers provide another revenue stream that helps us reduce dependency on platforms.”


Ensuring the continued health of paid content models depends on a number of factors, including optimization of user flow, investment in editorial content, a better understanding of data in the newsroom and churn prevention — all things the publishers surveyed in the report plan to invest in. Publishers should take a look at the framework taken by Aftonbladet, as by implementing a data wall, and studying what your readers are consuming, you get a full picture and a good idea of what type of content you should ultimately push out and focus on. At Evolok, identity management is one of our many services we offer. Have a read of our previous blog about identity management here and don’t hesitate to get in contact with us for a demo.