How Publishers Protect Ad Revenue Using Paywalls

In the last few years, the news publishers have made most of its profit from digital membership and subscription payments. Although events, services, and advertisements don’t provide enough revenue to keep a news business afloat, they still also a big role in digital publishing.

This is both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, subscription-based services allow a business to have a deeper insight into their audience. That helps the business tweak their content and services. On the other hand, it significantly reduces site traffic.

How to Protect Your Ad Revenue

Acquiring new subscribers should be the main goal of your company. But you also need to save all of that ad revenue coming in. This requires you to record and analyse the behaviour of your readers. The insight from this will allow you to keep your ad revenue high. Here the metrics you should analyse:

  • The number of page views on the entire website
  • Page views for each article, category, and writer
  • Recency, frequency, and time spent on website
  • The nature of the content your audience consumes
  • How much time the audience spends on popular pages

Another thing that needs to be in order to succeed is create the so-called audience personas for different types of readers of your publication.

Different Types of Readers

News outlets that want to turn a vast majority of their readers into subscribers need to know their audience. You need to know each group of readers if you want to hook them and keep your ad revenue strong. Your audience can be segmented in the following groups:

Fanatics: These are the ones that are loyal to one publisher. They’re usually hooked from the get-go and will stay loyal to your brand for years.

Enthusiasts: Together with fanatics, this group represents around 7% of your readership. The group is responsible for a large chunk of ad revenue.

Steady Readers: This group contains a good number of potential subscribers. But they need to be kept engaged constantly via newsletters and promotional content.

Dabblers: People who visit your website from on a relatively regular basis. They’re hard to turn into subscribers, since they don’t spend too much time on the website.

Flybys: Readers who visit your website sporadically without spending too much time reading content fall into this group. Flybys are not worth the time to turn into subscribers.

Disengaged: These are the people who either stubble across your website on accident. Turning anyone from this group into a subscriber is almost impossible.

Targeted Paywall Strategies

When you finally become familiar with all audience segments, you need to try out different paywall scenarios. This will allow you to see which strategy suits your audience the best and which one will help you bring the most money.

In this case, you need to find a way to measure the effectiveness of each subscription strategy. The best metric for this is the ration of lost ad revenue to gained subscription revenue. That way, you’ll know which one will help you save the most money.

What subscription acquisition strategies should you try out? Some of the most popular strategies include supporting investigative journalism, free speech, community building, and access to unique content. Whatever strategy you choose, just make sure it appeals to the values of your readers.

Understanding Your Audience

You need to understand your audience, what engages them, and disengages them if you want to come up with a proper digital revenue strategy. Your strategy needs to maximise your subscription revenue without sacrificing your ad revenue. Find a balance and your company will leap over the competition.


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