The past half-decade has seen a digital subscription renaissance in the news publishing industry. Publishers are increasingly recognizing a market demand for high-quality, meaningful, trustworthy content, and in turn seek to cultivate premium, high-value brands that engage readers. Our research suggests publishers should invest in capabilities to engage in constant testing and experimentation in digital — to build engagement among digital audiences and ultimately convert engaged readers into paying subscribers. For commercial and for-profit models in particular, publishers should become smart across a range of new strategies, including how to configure meters and rules to calibrate a mix of free and paid access. The trends we have observed across the publishers studied suggest pricing models, marketing tactics, and new approaches to audience engagement can help publishers succeed in a news environment increasingly friendly to robust digital programs. Produced through surveys of more than 500 for-profit newsrooms, this research suggests new best practices to aid publishers in increasing and sustaining digital subscriptions.


Mele, Nicco, Matthew Skibinski, and Matthew Spector. "Digital Pay-Meter Playbook: How Today’s News Publishers Can Use Data, Best Practices, and Test-and-Learn Tactics To Build Better Pay-Meters." August 2019.