Bloomberg, Axios, Politico, other business publishers rethink subscriber retention during the economic downturn

The economic downturn is impacting publishers’ advertising businesses in many ways. Low activity in Q4 2022 prompted some ad leads to work on intra-quarter campaigns at the last minute, while other publishers realized that giving sponsors more time would lead to increased revenue. In anticipation of the 2023 event timeline, we have decided to postpone it.

However, the economic impact on subscription revenue remains unclear as subscribers and media companies evaluate which subscriptions will be available for purchase in 2023.

This burden will continue to rise in the media as inflation rises and major subscribers (companies and individuals paying high subscription fees) become more scrutinized for what they are willing to pay for business reports. It puts pressure on companies to balance their own interests.

These premium subscription pricing tiers are often aimed at businesses and corporate customers.

  • Bloomberg digital subscriptions are priced at $35/month or $300/year (after a 3-month trial period of $2/month). Bloomberg also offers group subscription rates starting at $275 per person per year for five people.
  • A single Axios Pro newsletter is available for $600 annually, or an individual annual All Access Pass for $2,500. Group rates are also available for undisclosed amounts.
  • Annual Politico Pro subscriptions run in the tens of thousands of dollars and can go up in price based on customization and the number of employees you have access to.

So far, subscription retention rates for Axios Pro, Bloomberg and Politico Pro have not seen a direct decline due to the economic downturn, said internal sources at each publication. However, due to the economic climate, the subscription team is focused on improving average subscription revenue rather than total subscription volume. That’s why we’re soliciting direct feedback from our subscribers.

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Axios Pro just turned one year old and is working on its first update.

Axios has not disclosed how many of its 3,000 paying subscribers have reached the renewal point, but publisher Nick Johnston said there have been no recession-related cancellations so far. I’m here. In addition, based on subscribers who have already renewed (and some who received All Access memberships or raised their prices to accommodate more employees on their corporate subscriptions), Axios will see Pro revenue increase year-on-year. We anticipate a 20% increase in ratio. From $2 million in 2022 to $2.4 million in 2023, new subscriptions sold this year don’t count.

Johnston’s main tactic for renewing existing clients for higher prices in 2023 is through follow-up phone calls with subscribers asking for their feedback, such as what they like and what the Axios Pro product lacks. He declined to reveal how many of these calls he receives each week, but it has become an important part of his role and has been in place since September 2021. added.

Politico’s approach to subscriber research has changed in the past few months to include face-to-face visits with paying readers after the company hired a new head of its professional subscription business, Rachel Leffler, in October. I got

Each member of Politico Pro’s subscription team has a goal assigned to their job description for the number of face-to-face meetings with so-called subscription clients, according to a person with direct knowledge of the company.

“Cost savings occur when subscriptions are really viewed as a cost rather than a value creator,” said a source who provided anonymity for Digiday to speak more openly. When you sell to companies, you have people actually using the product, [you have] people paying for it. And they are not always the same person. People who are paying for it, their job is to cut costs,” said a Politico insider, who said the negotiation strategy on product mix pricing would help in conversations with the group responsible for signing checks. Added.

Total number of visits and client titles vary by role, but each meeting should be backed up with meeting notes. “You can’t just tick a box,” said a person familiar with Politico’s subscription business. The subscription team hopes to be able to identify exactly what each client wants, combined with the quantitative research conducted on Politico’s platform.

“We are very close partners with our clients, so we always align the value we deliver with what they are willing to pay. By the way, the team has not seen an increase in churn or a drop in the average price point per subscription as a result of the economy.

High prices even in the face of inflation

Johnston hasn’t lowered the price of the Axios Pro based on the economic downturn, even if the Pro loses business because it’s priced too high. There are promotional rates, but Johnston said he prefers average revenue potential over pure subscriber numbers.

“Somebody reached the bottom of the funnel and[いいえ]If you click , we do a lot of research as to why.Also, people[いいえ]The reason you click is because it costs money,” says Johnston.

Bloomberg will reach 450,000 subscribers in 2022, representing nearly 20% year-over-year growth. That’s a slight drop from what Bloomberg Media CEO Scott Havens called the madness of the pandemic, but added that subscriber numbers are projected to grow at the same rate. 2023 will be the same as the previous year.

“This is not a subscriber count game as much as how big your business will grow. You can do tricks [offering the first] It’s free for six months, but in the end, a lot of those people don’t stick around,” Havens said, adding that his team will move users to annual subscriptions this year to increase retention numbers. He did not mention monthly subscriber numbers and annual subscriber numbers.

One of the key strategies for converting monthly subscribers to annual subscribers is to reduce free trials, implement sign-up barriers and start building relationships with readers, then “throw the pay wall.” says Havens. This equates to publishers getting hundreds or thousands of registrations per month.

“In the long run, we are confident that subscribers will stick around longer,” Havens said, though he doesn’t have any data to share just yet.

Prioritizing average subscriber revenue over total subscribers is a common trend that more clients will take notice of in 2023, according to Piano’s EVP of Strategy and Social, Michael Silberman. Strategy. [Editor’s note: Piano is a contracted vendor with Digiday.]

This means that publishers are focusing on quality acquisition instead of offering free trials or introductory pricing for extended periods of time. That means finding subscribers who are willing to pay the full amount or close to it immediately. This improves overall retention.

“An important way to shift focus to revenue is to [be] We will focus on annual and monthly subscriptions to create incentives for people to opt for annual subscriptions,” said Silberman. “Normal discounts are around 15%. [off of an annual subscription giving subscribers] 12 months for the price of 10. You can get 30% or 40% discount. Still, years are much more valuable than months due to high retention rates. [that annual subscribers have on average]”

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