Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
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Digital subscriptions see steep rise: Exact Editions

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Digital platform Exact Editions has seen a steep rise in digital subscriptions amongst its publisher partners since lockdown restrictions were introduced to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst the results are perhaps not surprising, the increase in subscriptions is a welcome boost for publishers who have suffered in other areas, notably retail newsstand sales and events.

The company, who specialize in digitising content and providing cross-platform streaming solutions, found that a significant number of their publisher partners witnessed over 50% growth in subscriptions in the period from March and May compared to the previous quarter.

Some publishers fared even better, with sales of youth and pop culture title Dazed, along with sister titles AnOther Man and AnOther Magazine, increasing by an average of 102% during the period. London-based Dazed Media saw particular success with a campaign that released the publisher’s latest issues a week early for those who signed up to an opt-in email list.

Music monthly The Wire also generated a sharp increase in sales in March and April by sharing a link to the magazine’s full digital archive, dating back to 1982, across social media for selective, time-limited periods. Usage of the publisher’s digital archive soared during the weeks that the archive was made freely available, whilst the knock-on increase in subscription sales was 16% and 50% across the same periods.

Fig 1: Increase in The Wire’s digital subscription sales during its ‘Reading Room’ campaign which offered its full digital archive for a time limited period.

Daryl Rayner, Managing Director of Exact Editions, said: “We believe that the increase (in subscriptions across our platform) is due to a wide number of reasons: the current disruption affecting print publications; making available publisher archives; and our platform’s search function that allows for targeted reading. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital resources.”

The findings from Exact Editions come hot on the heels of Zuora’s Subscription Impact Report which saw a similar surge in subscriptions fuelled by high demand and free trials.

The challenge now for publishers is to retain these new subscribers – Zuora’s report recommends the following measures for media companies over the remaining six months of 2020:

  • Shift pricing strategy from free trials to more tailored content packages.
  • Create more tailored content offerings to capture longer-term customer retention.
  • Use pricing, packaging, and bundling as key levers because “one-size fits all may no longer apply and companies will need the flexibility to offer different packages for different customer segments.”

On the latter point, Zuora found that publishers who allowed consumers to suspend their subscription had a 5% lower annual churn rate compared to their peers.