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Publishers shouldn’t treat all readers the same when it comes to subscriptions

Living in New York City during the month of August is so interesting because it’s empty. And that’s what it feels like…


Jacob Donnelly has been writing from a deserted New York about how publishers can make more money if they get smarter about who they target for subscription sales. His central point is that publishers too often forget about individual user needs in their subscription management efforts and they really shouldn’t.

It might seem like common sense, but Jacob points out that readers that don’t visit a site frequently are unlikely to fork out for a subscription. Similarly, trying to sell out-of-towners a local subscription seems likely to meet with limited success. And drive-by referrals are not prime subs fodder.

“Treating everyone the same minimizes your revenue potential,” he says. “Some people should be monetized with ads. Some should be monetized with subscriptions. And some should be pushed to a free sign up so that they can be nurtured. If we’re smarter with this, we’ll make more money.”


Referral traffic from X continues to decline sharply for publishers

The referral traffic coming from links shared to X (née Twitter) to publishers’ websites has declined sharply in the past year.

I’m putting this piece in today’s newsletter specifically for Esther (although she’s probably read it already). The MV WhatsApp has been ringing to complaints of collapsing engagement on the one-time bird app. Now we know it’s not just us; data from Automattic shows traffic from X fell by 24% on average between the first half of 2022 and the first half of 2023. Bye Bye Birdy!!!


Can news outlets build a “trustworthy” AI chatbot?

Tech sites including Macworld and PCWorld are using a new AI tool.

Just like Twitter X traffic, there seems to be a lot less AI news about. This piece from The Verge is worth highlighting though – instead of reporting yet more copyright challenges, it’s looking at whether publishers can build AI chatbots trained on their archives. We know it’s possible because we spoke to Rafat Ali about it in July, but his article offers some interesting perspective from The Foundry.


Knight-Lenfest Fund to invest $1M in communities of practice

The $1 million investment in four of The Lenfest Institute’s communities of practice will be used to help grow and support U.S. local news.

It’s good that investment is continuing in these US learning communities, targeted at American publishing professionals who are developing expertise, sharing best practices, and solving common challenges. What’s interesting is that although this is a US initiative, the focus for each of the four groups – philanthropy and fundraising, audience development, statewide news and city news are challenges for news outlets everywhere.

More from Media Voices


Newspaper ABCS: reinterpreting the purpose of print

Our vanity is tickled when we see our names in print, but is pride causing the industry to cling to print when it would be better off going digital-only?


One email to rule them all: The New Statesman consolidates its newsletters

The New Statesman has whittled down its portfolio to just a daily and Saturday newsletter. But is consolidation wise in an era of personalisation?


Why diversity, equity and inclusion is an everyone issue

Project 23 co-founder Gary Rayneau says it’s time diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives were subject to the same rigour as any other business strategy.

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