Is Political News the new Secret Weapon for Publishers? -Part 1


It seems every two months there’s another election making the headlines. It’s been a year of global political campaigning. From Brexit Means Brexit, Make America Great Again to En Marche!, political news has never been so rich. That being said, publishers have used the political tumult as a tactic to recruit and even drive subscription numbers. It’s a very clever move, when you consider all of the carnage that fake news is causing in the industry; publishers have identified politics as an incredible opportunity to monetise content. This two-part blog will cover different strategies deployed by publishers, and how creative digital approaches are increasing conversions and subscribers.


I previously touched on how Mediapart are using politics to drive up subscriptions, but let’s do some further research on their approach. Just to quickly recap, Media part are a 9-year- old French digital newspaper.

During the French election period, Mediapart were amassing an incredible 400 paying subscribers a day. A point to remember is that Mediapart don’t sell print. The French presidential election began in 2016, so Mediapart’s marketing team offered a three-month subscription deal for the price of one. They used the tagline “Nothing will happen as predicted.” As of October 2016, website traffic doubled from 2 million to 4 million visitors.

What’s really played into the hands of Mediapart is their ability to report big stories on political scandals. When Mediapart broke a story that stated France’s former minister Jerome Cahuzac committed fraud, the paper gained 1000 new subscribers. Mediapart are not afraid of controversy, as they frequently publish political scandals. Three years after launching, it became profitable, and annual turnover has grown to €11.5 million.

Mediapart’s other secret weapon is The Club. The Club allows Mediapart’s paying subscribers to publish their own blogs and join in with the debate. It empowers their readers, and gives them a place to voice their opinions. The Club isn’t behind Mediapart’s paywall.

Vice & Telegraph

In an unrelated move between two publishers, both Vice UK and The Telegraph will be launching on Snapchat Discover to coincide with the UK General Election.

Seeing a publisher move to Snapchat is relatively frequent now, however this is a strategy being deployed that’s specifically using political news to reach new generations of readers. Just last month in May, App Annie conducted some research and found out that on a daily average, 35% users who use Snapchat do not use Facebook during that same day. Just to add fuel to the fire, a survey conducted by eMarketer states that young millennials prefer Snapchat to their older counterparts. Millennials make up a large proportion of readers for content producers hence the sudden interest to crack into this group, read further here.

Nevertheless, the regular readers would notice that you can’t directly monetise users and sell subscriptions through Snapchat, it’s a form of driving engagement. Robert Bridge, chief customer officer at Telegraph Media Group stated, “It’s higher funnel activity..Our research shows those who are engaged are more willing to subscribe.”

Alex Miller, executive creative director at Vice UK, said “To go out on such a large platform to a young and engaged audience around an important election is a perfect marriage for us. The constant challenge is to express the brand through a new medium”.

We have explored three examples where publishers have seized the opportunity to showcase themselves and increase subscribers using new and innovative techniques. Part two of the blog released later this week will have further examples of how other publishers are feeding off the extraordinary political vogue.


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