In London for the PPA Customer Direct conference, we grab five minutes with Jonas Rideout, global business development director at content monetisation specialists, Piano.
Q: What were the key takeaways from PPA Customer Direct?
A: Publishers are embracing the shift from developing reach to creating direct relationships with their readers that generate revenue, in a lot of creative ways. The Telegraph’s focus on building a database of ten million registered users really underscores the value that publishers are placing on developing direct relationships that they can then monetise.
Q: What are the current trends in “paywall” strategies?
A: Publishers are starting to realise the difference between putting up a paywall and launching a digital subscription business. The old strategy of asking users to pay for what they used to get for free is no longer a viable model. Publishers are now engaged in product development to determine what excites loyal audiences, creating a business model that incentivises membership, and actively marketing and promoting their products the same way traditional retailers have marketed and promoted physical goods.
Q: How do publishers who don’t currently charge readers, get started?
A: By getting closer to their audience – whether that’s understanding what content their most loyal readers find the most valuable, what features their readers want to make their content easier or more engaging to consume, or what ancillary benefits would inspire them to subscribe.
Q: What advice would you give publishers looking to reduce churn?
A: Start an on-boarding program that gets your new subscribers to engage with your content and features and encourages them to build the habits that make your content part of their daily consumption habits. Also, incentivise users to take annual subscriptions or to move from monthly to annual plans – that reduces the risk of churn almost 12-fold.
Q: What’s coming next from Piano?
A: We’re always working on new features and functionality that make it easier for publishers to understand, convert, and retain their audience. We also publish an annual magazine on the business of media, called Traffic – our newest edition comes out this month. Check it out at trafficmagazine.com
Q: What content do you relax with at home?
A: My wife is a novelist who writes fiction for teenagers, so a lot of my reading time goes to books she writes or are written by her friends and colleagues. I’m an avid reader of The New Yorker and I tend to read anything I pick up from publishers we meet. This week, I’m enjoying the current issue of The Spectator.