In just a few short years, digital readership of newspapers, books, magazines, and other forms of written content will finally eclipse traditional print. To grow revenue and remain competitive, publishers will need to digitize their business models and introduce new subscription options that appeal to and cater for the consumption wishes of a more diverse set of audiences, if they haven’t already.
For now, print remains the primary driver of revenue, with older adults comprising the lion’s share of print readers. But as consumers continue to acclimate to the idea of moving from ownership to access, digital consumption is on the rise. In 2021, digital readership was up 14.3 percent compared with the previous year, while print readership was down by 2.6 percent. It is expected that digital revenues will overtake print by 2027.
As this new landscape evolves, publishers must acquire a deeper understanding of how their readers prefer to consume content and adopt a digital and agile approach toward accommodating and building engagement with those readers. The transition will require more than just a rollout of new digital subscriptions, but also a shift of mindset. It will herald a new era of technical complexity, as publishers will need to procure modern subscription management systems capable of serving print and digital subscribers holistically.
Publishers and media organizations that recognize the urgent need to digitize their business models and accelerate digital revenue growth can achieve success by following a few key tenets, which include:
Focus less on the mechanics of consumption and more on the value of the content
Adding digital subscriptions to current print offerings requires readers to change their habits. However, adopting a new habit doesn’t necessarily mean negating or discarding an established one. A customer may have an e-reader but still enjoy reading printed books – it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Be careful not to confuse the method of delivery with the value proposition. Instead, consider the attributes and advantages of the digital environment that could be used to deliver a better experience for your target audience.
Capture data to understand engagement and respond to changing customer habits
Reader experience will define revenue potential. As digital offerings are introduced, understanding reader engagement and viewing history is key to identifying potential information gaps and areas that need expansion. Piecing together data from siloed systems relating to reader wants, needs, and preferences can create gaps that could lead to irrelevance and churn. The digital platform used to create, manage, and deploy digital subscriptions must have the capacity to pivot and quickly launch new products – even those combining print and digital – in a manner that is simple and effective.
They’re not just books, newspapers, and magazines – they are Products!
Begin to regard publications, articles, topical coverage, newsletters, podcasts, mobile apps, and digital experiences as products and develop strategies for getting your target audience to use or consume them. Consumers today have an infinite number of choices and a real limit to available time and attention. Adopting a product perspective will enable publishers to evaluate each product individually and consider what each audience wants, how they will engage, and what expansion opportunities might arise through bundled offerings and crossover experiences.
Now is clearly the time for innovation in the publishing industry. World Press Trends found that publishers with an innovative culture are seven times more likely to report “booming” revenues, compared with those less open to change. However, achieving real growth in reader revenue means offering more than just a choice between print and digital formats. Innovation will be led by those who leverage digitization to go beyond subscription paywalls to grow engagement, subscriptions, and loyalty in meaningful ways.
Learn how Aria can help publishers to unify and manage subscriptions for both print and digital media
“Aria’s platform provides the flexibility, configurability, and ease of connectivity we require as we commence our broad digital transformation efforts. Leaning on their deep experience in the media and publishing industry, Aria understood our challenges from the outset and is implementing a solution that will support our key strategic aspirations to simplify, grow, and adapt through enhanced subscription management.”
Tim Fulton, Chief Transformation OfficerOxford University Press Selects Aria Systems’ Billing and Monetization Platform to Support and Accelerate Publisher’s Digital Transformation Program
“Aria delivered on its commitment to quickly and seamlessly integrate its platform into our existing ecosystem with speed and efficiency, so much so that we immediately began experiencing the benefits of its capabilities.”
Ann Fogelgren, CIO, Berlingske MediaBerlingske Media and Aria Systems Complete Implementation of the Aria Media and Publishing Suite
“As part of our ongoing digital development we needed to modernize our subscription management and billing infrastructure to maintain revenue growth from our digital services and deliver premium service to our customers. From the beginning of the process, Aria demonstrated its expertise in the media and publishing industry and an understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities that accompany the digital transformation. The ability of AMPS to integrate with our existing solutions to generate a unified view of the customer was part of our decision.”
Jostein Danielsen, Head of Consumer MarketPolaris Media Selects Aria Systems’ Billing and Monetization Platform to Grow Subscriptions and Maximize Revenue from Digital Services