5 key findings from The State of Digital Publishing Market Report 2022

Pulling together analytics aggregated across a sample of Pugpig’s 350+ media brands and augmented with industry data, the report shares valuable insights into how readers are consuming content (particularly on mobile) and how publishers are responding to their needs. Download the full report here, and find our 5 key takeaways below.

1. Whilst most digital habits have fallen back to pre-pandemic levels, mobile use continues to grow

When designing products for mobile, phones are rightly the starting point, but it’s important to consider the other screens that may be in your readers’ hands.

Tablet usage, while still a small percentage of total usage, is still important, particularly with consumer media, so it’s vital to design both your apps and content with that in mind.

Not only that, but given the popularity of keyboards on tablets, landscape designs are also important to factor in..”

Did you know that whilst the majority of traffic is accessing your content on mobile devices, these users only make up a small percentage of user-to-subscriber conversion rates. Find our analysis and recommendations for optimizing conversion rates on mobiles in our article.

2. Time spent on apps has grown by almost an hour a day since 2019, and whilst websites still deliver the largest audiences, apps have the most engagement

Apps are super sticky, and daily newspapers are ahead of the game in engaging audiences via mobile applications.

But website visits on mobile (over apps) still deliver the largest audiences.

This higher engagement also applies to in-app subscriptions, both in terms of session duration and average sessions per month.

3. Key challenges for the media leaders interviewed include subscription, retention, rising costs and competition for talent

Growing subscriptions is the biggest challenge, but retention was a close second as publishers try to keep hold of readers who converted during the pandemic.

Recruiting talent and trust were two other key challenges for publishers interviewed:

The other challenges are about retaining talent and trust. Publishing has become much more about star talent. It’s a real pinch point for publishers because the rewards are often elsewhere… stars are the real attraction for subscribers.”

4. Two areas of innovation stand out for research participants: personalization and audio

Media leaders spoke about a number of different personalization approaches:

  • Automated recommendations and automated front pages that rely on artificial intelligence
  • Content that is tailored to specific audience segments, either on the site, in the app, via a newsletter or push notification
  • Many respondents spoke of segmented, multi-variant newsletters
  • Content that is personalized based on users’ previous activity or expressed interests

These strategies will prove hugely valuable to engagement, conversion and retention efforts.

Publishers are also making better use of audio, a format that is proving itself as a driver for audience and revenue growth through subscriptions and novel strategies such as lucrative licensing deals.

Spoken Word Audio listening is growing. In the US, there has been steady growth over the last eight years.

And there’s been a massive shift to listening on mobile.

5. Subscriptions and memberships are expected to be the top revenue growth driver in 2023

Many of the media leaders we spoke to said subscriptions were the bedrock of their businesses.

Publishers also see price increases not only as a source of growth but also as a way to address inflation, which is driving up the cost of print production and distribution.

However, we were challenged over assumptions that advertising was in decline. “We see many publishers actually growing ad revenue and hoping to accelerate this growth with new products based on first party data,” Greg Piechota, with INMA, said.”

Where in the subscription funnel is the focus on?

More than half of our publishers are focused on engagement and conversion, showing how subscription growth was still their highest priority.

And with that focus on subscriber growth, many also spoke of increasing engagement that would lead to conversion. This played prominently in their rationale behind adding personalisation features to their digital content

Those who spoke about retention said that they had seen strong subscriber growth during the pandemic and wanted to hold onto those gains.”

This article was originally published by The Audiencers. The Audiencers is a B2B publication by Poool, The Membership and Subscription Suite, a simple, all-in-one platform for digital content producers to convert, manage and retain their members and subscribers. Find out more on poool.tech or book a free demo with their team.

Perfect your value proposition to convert more readers into subscribers

This article wrapped up:

  • The value proposition canvas helps you define your customer’s profile and pair this with your product/service to ensure your premium offers provide value
  • The Golden Circle framework will allow you to work on your why, what and how
  • Starting with the why is how you’ll best define a value proposition that matches your audience’s needs
  • Defining your value proposition is by no means easy and yet it is THE essential preliminary step to work through before launching or re-launching a premium strategy

Quickly, what is a value proposition?


A value proposition is a statement that summarizes why someone should purchase your product or service. It refers to the value that you are providing to your customers should they choose to purchase from you. It’s therefore hugely important and plays a significant role in whether users will partake in any exchanges of value (e.g. subscribe or register to your site).Given this, how can you even begin to sell a product or service without first defining what it is that you’re selling and how you’re providing value to your customers?

In this article, we’ll work through Poool’s method of defining a value proposition, ensuring that you can write conversion texts, build offer pages and create promotional campaigns with ease.

Let’s break this down into 2 steps:

  • Define the content and benefits of your offer
  • Work on your why, how and what.

Define the content and benefits of your offer(s)

We propose to work from a framework initially developed by Dr. Alexander Osterwalder, The Value Proposition Canvas, built for ensuring that a product is adapted to its market.

The canvas is divided into two sections: customer profile and value proposition.

Customer profile: Always start with the customer as they’re at the center of your value as a business.

You are also likely to have different customer segments, each with their own needs, wants and interests, so it’s important to complete a unique customer profile for every segment.

  • Gains: the benefits that customers expect and need from you. These should appeal to their interests and make them more likely to embrace your value proposition
  • Job-to-be-done: this refers to the operational, social and emotional tasks that a client must carry out. It involves any problems they have to solve and what they hope to satisfy

“What social, emotional, and functional jobs does your customer do on a daily basis? They have some functional jobs that you probably know about. But you’ll also need to uncover how they do that job, how they feel, and what social qualities come into play. For instance, a parent with the job of driving a child to school may also have functional jobs of getting them there on time, ensuring they’re fed throughout the day, making sure they’re not looking like an outcast (social standing may be important), providing the feeling of being loved and appreciated, etc. Ask enough “whys” and you’ll get this info.”

Business Models Inc.

  • Pains: these are the difficulties and negative experiences faced by the customer when trying to get the job done

Value proposition: here we turn to your product or service and how it fits with the above.

  • Gain creators: how does the product or service meet the customer’s needs and how does it provide them with value?
  • Pain reliever: how does the product or service solve the pain and difficulties that a customer may encounter whilst carrying out this task?
  • Product or service: what is the product or service that creates value, solves problems and justifies the creation of value for the customer?

Once these are defined, the question comes down to how this tool can be applied to content producers. We propose…

2. Work on your why, what and how

For this second section, we’re going to work from The Golden Circle framework laid out by Simon Sinek.

If you’re unfamiliar with his work, we’d recommend having a watch of this video. Although it was posted in 2009, the concepts are still relevant and useful today given that so few businesses are aware of how to define their why, what and how.

The circle is divided into 3 parts: what, how and why.

What: What do you do? This should be very (very) easy to answer. For a magazine, for example, you publish articles, columns, surveys, etc in paper versions and digitally

How: How do you do this? With what people, tools, focus, quality, layout, etc. This, again, should be straightforward to answer and, above all, strictly defined within your team

Why: Why do you do this? A bit trickier and unfortunately not simply as a way to make money. Monetization is the result rather than the why. Instead, here is where you define what you’re going to tell your prospects so that they pay in exchange for your products or services

After the ‘why’, you should consider the following questions:

  • Why does this structure exist?
  • Why do you get up in the morning?
  • Why should people be interested in what you do?
  • Why are you useful?
  • What makes you different from others in the industry?
  • What do you bring to your reader to make them spend time with you?

Most businesses start by answering the obvious questions (on the outside of the circle) and then work their way in towards the center. This leads to simple messaging such as

“Subscriber to access all our articles!”

But, of course, you can do better.

This is why more successful companies go the other way around, starting from the center (the why) and moving outwards.


What do they bring to the reader? An intelligent start to the day

Why should users subscribe? Information and inspiration

Followed by the what – the Poynter newsletter

Alternatives Economiques

“The media that belongs to a millionaire its employees.

Alternatives Economiques is an exception to most in the publishing industry: our cooperative belongs to its employees and readers.

By subscribing, you’re helping us to preserve this valuable independence!”

Why do they publish content? To provide independent journalism

What makes you different from others in the industry? The media’s owned by its employees and readers

How do you do what you do? Thanks to subscribers (like the reader, hopefully) and employees (this resonates with the reader who is also an employee somewhere)

The Independent

What do you bring to your reader to make them spend time with you? Insights, information and ideas/inspiration

What makes you different? The Independent perspective, a unique take on news

Note the lack of even a mention of specifically ‘what’ – the product itself, subscription.

The New Zealand Herald

Why should people be interested in what you do? Not just sharing a story, but from every angle

La diaria

“Subscribe to the diaria that depends solely on you”

Why does this structure exist? Thanks to the reader (synthetic personalization with ‘you’)

The Wall Street Journal

Why do they publish content? To provide trust-worthy journalism that solves a pain-point for readers

What makes you different from others in the industry? The reader makes decisions daily, and WSJ will help them to make more informed decisions, more easily with trustworthy journalism, implying well-researched content written by experts.

This article was originally published by The Audiencers. The Audiencers is a B2B publication by Poool, The Membership and Subscription Suite, a simple, all-in-one platform for digital content producers to convert, manage and retain their members and subscribers. Find out more on poool.tech or book a free demo with their team.

“Subscription growth continues, but there’s a realization that readers need to see value” insights from Media Moments 2022

2022 saw publishers working to convince customers they’re worth the money. From content bundles to exclusive newsletters and podcasts, the subscription market is having to evolve.

This is an extract from the Media Moments 2022 report, downloadable in full here or via the form below.

After a frantic couple of years, when reader revenue seemed to be the only game in town, 2022 threatened a subscriptions shakeout. As markets from heated seats to tacos introduced monthly payment offers, the threat of market saturation became very real. And with the cost of living crisis kicking in, concerns have been growing that consumers are starting to consider just which subscriptions they really need.

Early in the year, Amanda Mull suggested in the Atlantic that we had reached peak subscription. And as if anticipating her analysis, the number of UK homes that had at least one paid-for streaming service fell by 215,000 in the first quarter, the end of a 10-year growth period among popular subscription services. Underlining the trend, Netflix alone lost 1 million subscribers in the second quarter of the year, although they did return to growth in the latter half of the year.

INMA’s Subscription Benchmarking Service reported a spike in subscription cancellations. The past few quarters have seen cancellations go up 34% compared to Q1 of 2021. Recent research from Toolkits and National Research Group showed that almost 30% of consumers polled plan to reduce the number of online
subscriptions they hold.

Toolkits’ Jack Marshall acknowledged the likelihood of a downturn back in May, especially in the face of the ‘belt-tightening’ economic conditions inevitably bring. But he said this wasn’t a sign of any fundamental problem with the subscription model.

“More than anything, publishers just need to be honest with themselves about whether they really have the content and products to support subscription models sustainably in the long term.”

Focus on value

Even as some publishers are seeing cancellations, others continue to enjoy growth. AOP members reported digital subscriptions growth at almost 15% between June 2021 and June 2022.

A select few have reported record performances, with quality content and trusted brands the designated driver. Having reached more than 9 million subscribers, New York Times president and CEO Meredith Kopit Levien said its success was down to publishing the best content possible.

The Economist posted its most profitable year since 2016 on the back of 1.2 million subscribers and total subscription revenues accounting for more than 60% of its revenues. Referencing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and inflation at its highest rate for a generation, editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes described The Economist’s content as delivering “timely, mind-stretching analysis to subscribers, helping them to make sense of the world.”

The Times signed up an average of 1,000 new digital subscribers every day over the first two weeks of Russia’s attack. Times head of digital Edward Roussel told Press Gazette: “The trend that we’re seeing is that in moments of crisis, whether it’s the onset of coronavirus or Brexit, you see this shift towards trusted brands.” The two-year old sports and culture website Defector earns 95% of its revenue from subscriptions. This year, it boosted its sub‐
scriber acquisitions by making its Normal Gossip podcast – one of Nick Quah’s best podcasts of the year – paid. Building on the unique positioning of the sports rumors show, Defector saw its biggest one-week subscriber increase in a year.

AOP reported a 14.9% growth in subscriptions revenue this year

Looking ahead

Anthony Ribeiro, audience conversion consultant at Membership and Subscription Suite Poool, said success is often down to the value proposition. This applies to both subscriptions and registration walls, as he noted:

“There’s a lack of unique value being offered in exchange for registration; there needs to be something they can’t get elsewhere, just like with subscriptions. It’s really a matter of the proposition and the value you can offer. How are you different from the competition?”

Anthony Ribeiro, Audience Conversion Consultant at Poool

Seeing that subscription revenues alone might not be enough, one time ‘all-ads-are-bad’ content providers, from Netflix to The Athletic, are introducing advertising to bolster their earnings. There is even a growing consensus that, post cookies, subscription publishers will be in a better position to offer advertisers premium spots using the first-party data gathered from subscribers and registered users.

And in a market under pressure, evolution is key to the continued success of the subscription model. The bundle, embraced by the New York Times, is one way that publishers can increase value to paying audiences and increase subscriber value. With growth no longer primarily in subscriptions to news alone, the NYT is pushing an all-access offer that brings together games and cooking content with audio, exclusive newsletters, product reviews on Wirecutter and sports coverage from The Athletic.

While few publishers can afford to stump up $550 million for a brand like the Athletic or even the ‘low seven figures’ paid for Wordle, they can focus on super serving their most engaged audience members. At WAN-IFRA’s World News Media Congress this year, Héctor Aranda, CEO of Argentina’s Clarin, said his company gets 70% of its subscription revenue from less than 2% of its total audience.

The bottom line is that publishers looking to keep growing their reader revenues must get better at targeting their messaging, pricing and content offering to convince cash-strapped audiences that their subscription is the one worth keeping.

14% of digital news users in the US think that they will have more media subscriptions in the next year. Another 14% believe they will have fewer.

Case study: Quartz drops its paywall

Just as everyone else was trying to figure out how to gate their content, Quartz tore down its paywall18. The plan shifted from a fairly strict content lockdown to the bulk of the business site’s content being available for free.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the pivot was an admission that Quartz’s beleaguered membership offering had failed.

The four-year old program attracted just 10,000 subscribers in its first year and even after a post-management buyout plea in 2021 spiked sign ups, it was still under 30,000. Low numbers are undoubtedly a factor in the shift – no one ever tries to fix a media model that isn’t broken. But there was also another, more interesting rationale at play. CEO Zach Seward explained:

“We found that 75% of Quartz members read us primarily through email, so we’ve been putting more of our best stuff directly in their inboxes.”

The new email-first membership scheme will see paying customers get four ‘premium’ emails a week. The problems for Quartz have been blamed on its ‘mushy middle’ positioning, described by Digiday as “not quite niche
enough to be essential to a small group of readers, but not quite big enough to compete at scale”. But Seward said the problem was converting drive-by site visitors into subscribers.

“The part that hasn’t worked well is when a reader coming from Google hits our paywall, wants to read the article, but has no intent to remain a member. That has not produced enough value for Quartz or our readers to justify the downsides of the paywall in terms of reaching more people with our great journalism.”

Contrast that with the success Quartz has seen in converting loyal email readers to paying members and the move might just make sense.

This is an extract from the Media Moments 2022 report, downloadable in full via the form below below.

This article was originally published by The Audiencers. The Audiencers is a B2B publication by Poool, The Membership and Subscription Suite, a simple, all-in-one platform for digital content producers to convert, manage and retain their members and subscribers. Find out more on poool.tech or book a free demo with their team.

Community-focused tools, tactics help media companies hit KPI, ROI goals

If your current digital experience platform (DXP) isn’t serving your community — or rather, is not enabling your organisation to serve, sustain, and expand your community — then it’s not worth your money.

Furthermore, if you are fortunate enough to be host to a community, particularly one that enjoys engaging with and discovering the realm of their interests that you’ve created, you’re sitting on a gold mine of growth potential and first-party data.

It’s no secret that an active, non-toxic community is a powerful driver of audience growth, but to make the most of community-driven conversion opportunities, there are some preparatory measures that can be taken.

Community foundation

Before honing in on the inner-workings of your community, take stock of the tools and strategies you currently have in place and assess whether or not they are providing a worthwhile ROI. Some questions to ask as you set about this task are focused on infrastructure and discoverability, and community health.

Infrastructure and discoverability

Does your site’s architecture drive visitors intuitively to where the community is at its best, or are there a number of barriers in their way?

Consider where on their journey users are confronted with a sign-up form of some sort. Then, evaluate if there’s greater potential for conversion by giving them a bit of free reign to see the value you have to offer elsewhere. Giving unregistered users enough access to see but not join on-site discussions or special events like a live ask-me-anything community chat could be just the kind of content that is worth their time and, subsequently, their registered first-party data.

Does your current comment interface and strategy help or hinder engagement?

Providing users with the means to easily jump into the comments section and join discussions is an effective way to improve engagement. Recently, Viafoura partnered with News-Press & Gazette Co. (NPG) to help the team overhaul its prior approach to comment sections that relied on manual approval. This had resulted in endless queues of user contributions stuck in limbo. After integrating Viafoura’s automated moderation onto its platform, NPG saw a drastic improvement in overall engagement as well as the complete reactivation of previously stagnant communities across a number of its sites.

Community health

Have you and your teams taken measures to ensure that when new visitors arrive, they’re greeted by a wholesome and inviting community?

If some of the first things visitors see are comments and discussions rife with vitriol and toxicity, they won’t stay long — if at all. To keep the peace and foster a welcoming space for newcomers, it’s imperative you provide clear and concise community guidelines. These guidelines will assist in the preservation of your community’s well-being by giving its members and your moderation teams consistent parameters to follow while reinforcing your brand values and interests while doing so.

To scale down some of the more taxing and meticulous moderation tasks (such as profanity and hate speech), adopting an intelligent moderation engine is a turn-key solution for immediate deflection of toxicity.

Create a playground of engagement

Creating an engaging and discoverable user experience (UX) will invigorate your audience. As publishers, there is an obvious responsibility in providing your readers with high-quality content that stands out in the vast and highly saturated digital media landscape. More specifically, as digital publishers, the journey that users go on as they experience your site and its content is just as important.

A digital media platform that gives its users a range of capabilities to engage — through exploration, discovery, or community — is guaranteed a far higher chance of earning consistent growth in registrations, longer time spent on-site, and an increasingly concise understanding of its audience’s behaviour and interests. All of this can contribute to an improvement in ad revenue by providing you with the data necessary to prove the worth of your premium ad space to potential partners.

Topic and author follows

Topic and author following capabilities are highly engaging points of conversion and excellent data collection avenues. By tracking what content and which authors are being followed via built-in analytics, editorial and content strategies can be adjusted to meet the evident interests being shown in the declarative data that comes from these community-specific actions.

In terms of engagement, users who follow particular authors or topics also have a far higher propensity for return visits because of the notifications they’ll receive when more content tied to what they follow is published.


In this digital age where an extensive and engaging digital experience platform is paramount to the success and longevity of digital media organisations, taking the time to create rewarding and enjoyable experiences for your audience communities is the least we can do. With the right tools and approach to a community-focused growth strategy, publishers will make short work of achieving their ROIs and surpassing previous KPI goals.

This blog was originally published by INMA

Paywall visibility rate: the essential KPI you should be tracking in your subscription strategy

This article wrapped up:

  • Conversion rate is a valuable metric for publishers, but it doesn’t allow you to take into consideration the all-important engagement prior to the paywall (something that’s highly important for conversions)
  • Tracking and optimizing both premium content visibility and paywall visibility rate will help move users through the funnel towards subscribing in the future
  • We recommend aiming for 10-40% premium content visibility rate and 80% paywall visibility rate, but ultimately testing is the only way to find what is optimal for your strategy

The process of converting users into subscribers involves a lot more than just clicking through the paywall and paying.

The reader needs to find your site (acquisition), become increasingly more interested (engagement), see your premium content and be frustrated enough by the paywall to decide to convert.

These final two steps involve the visibility of your premium offer, and are the often-forgotten essential steps to optimize in your subscription strategy.

So, what are these visibility metrics? Why are they important? And how can you optimize them in order to increase overall conversion rates?

There are two types of visibility rate metrics:

  • Premium content visibility 

The percentage of users on your site who visit a premium content and have the potential to be exposed to the paywall

No. of readers who visit a premium content / Total no. of visitors to your site

  • Paywall visibility rate

The percentage of users who visit premium content and also see the paywall.

No. of readers who see the paywall / Total no. of visitors to premium content

Why is visibility important?

Publishers employing a premium strategy tend to focus on conversion rates as their north star metric. Of course, the number of users who fully convert into subscribers is important, but this metric doesn’t take into account the value of engagement prior to the paywall.

In fact, conversion rate is a metric designed for the ecommerce industry, where the buying process is all about impulsive decisions. Subscriptions (in the publishing industry) however are hugely dependent on a user becoming gradually more engaged before finally making the decision to convert.

For this reason, it’s important to consider and optimize the engagement funnel prior to the paywall.

In a recent white paper, we covered the 5 key metrics to track and optimize which will accumulate to increase overall user-to-subscriber conversion rates.

The first 2 of these steps refer to visibility.

Premium content visibility

In a Poool study analyzing the content strategy of 75 digital publishers, we discovered a correlation between traffic on premium content and the reader-to-subscriber conversion rate. This correlation was true up to 40% premium content visibility (which means 40% of your visitors would be exposed to premium content).

This suggests that by increasing the visibility of premium content, and thus the number of visits to paid content, you’ll increase the number of conversions.

As this correlation seems to only be true only up to 40% visibility, we’d recommend aiming for 10-40% visibility rate and testing from these to find the best percentage for your individual case.

How do you increase the visibility of paid content? 

The assumption is that you’d need to increase the amount of premium content published. However, you can instead work on optimizing the visibility of the content already on your site:

  • Place premium content at the top of your homepage
  • Promote premium content inside other articles
  • Recommend these articles to your users (at the end of content, in email campaigns etc)
  • Place more premium content in your newsletter, on social media, etc.

For instance, on the homepage of Digiday, ELLE France and El Pais’ sites, you can clearly see that they employ a subscription strategy as premium content is given a unique tag. For many publishers, this involves a single color that’s associated with subscription. In most cases in France, this is yellow.

Paywall visibility rate

There is actually a significant loss of readers moving from visiting the premium article to actually seeing the paywall (the next step in the funnel). Of course, this step is valuable as the visibility of your paywall will correlate with the number of users who convert through this paywall (you can’t click through a paywall if you never see it!)

However, like everything in the world of conversion strategies, it’s about finding a perfect balance between frustration and engagement.

Whilst a paywall visibility rate of 100% might frustrate your reader too much and turn them away from subscribing as they never got the chance to engage, a low visibility rate won’t create enough frustration and will result in only your most engaged users subscribing.

Having said this, the ‘perfect balance’ is different for every publisher and we can see successful examples at both ends of the scale.

Le Monde, one of France’s most popular publications, has an extremely low visibility rate where it takes a good few scrolls down the article before being presented with the paywall.

On the other hand, Financial Times, Washington Post and the New York Times have 100% visibility rate with their paywall.

Financial Times presents a full-page paywall.

The Washington Post employs a pop-up hard paywall.

The New York Times blocks the full article with an anti-scroll paywall.

Whilst El Pais finds a middle ground and shows readers only  afew lines of content before blocking.

How do you increase paywall visibility rate?

It’s not necessarily about increasing here, but about finding the optimal rate for your situation. To achieve this, we’d recommend aiming for 80% visibility rate and testing from here, as well as considering segmenting audiences and employing adapted strategies for each type of audience.

You can also consider employing a metered strategy, one that offers users access to a quota of articles for free before being blocked by the paywall. This will also help reduce the risks of launching a paywall on your advertising revenue, traffic or SEO.

You can also try:

  • Employing a different wall on mobiles (where the wall is seemingly further down the page than on desktop)
  • Increase wall visibility with a full screen paywall, pop-up wall or anti-scroll wall.
  • Segment audiences based on level of engagement, employing a higher visibility rate for your most engaged users and a lower visibility rate for volatile traffic who need more engagement before being convinced to convert (p.s. You can do this on the Poool Dashboard!)
  • Segment your content and employ a different visibility rate based on the content type. For instance, more popular content could have a higher visibility rate than less popular premium content
  • Optimize the order in which scripts are called to the page to configure a wall to appear sooner in the case of bad connection

Note: depending on your paywall set-up, it’s also important to take SEO into consideration here. For instance, if you’re employing a hard paywall with a server-side blocking method, you should ensure you follow Google’s lead-in recommendations where essential text is left above the paywall to optimize search engine performance.

This article was originally published by The Audiencers. The Audiencers is a B2B publication by Poool, The Membership and Subscription Suite, a simple, all-in-one platform for digital content producers to convert, manage and retain their members and subscribers. Find out more on poool.tech or book a free demo with their team.

Putting the audience, data first can help media overcome news avoidance

If nothing else, one positive element that emerged from the pandemic is a renewed focus on mental health and wellness.

From one week to the next, people worldwide became recluses, whether they wanted to or not. They were forced to sit at home and, after burning through all that Netflix had to offer, think — think, reflect, and become aware of their mental health in ways that had perhaps been easier to avoid in the “before times.”

With this time for reflection, it’s no wonder people began to notice the correlation between their moods and mental health and the non-stop emotional rollercoaster of the news cycle throughout the pandemic.

In one sitting, viewers would be subjected to an inspiring video of Italians singing from their balconies in quarantine followed by horrifying stories of people trapped in their homes with deceased loved ones — all while a ticker at the bottom of the screen provided an ever-updating death counter.

While the news cycle is not known for being a constant source of uplifting content, the pandemic brought to light the impact that bad news has on our mental well-being. It’s no wonder new audience behaviours emerged. Ones that, to the detriment of publishers everywhere, would have us sooner look away and avoid the news than tune in to have our days ruined by yet another article about the latest existential threat.

Mental health effect on news avoidance trends

News avoidance is the active or intentional resistance or rejection of news.

Though we are still in the early days of this new behaviour, studies have indicated that people the world over have become more selective of the content they consume. It is a means of mitigating the negative feelings that go hand-in-hand with a news cycle that seems to skew ever more negative, concerning, and depressing.

According to data compiled by Nielsen, in the early days of the pandemic, publishers tracked a 60% global increase in news content consumption. What were the headlines during that period? Stories related to the pandemic, as well as political crises occurring around the world, with more than a few notable mentions belonging to the United States.

As time went on and the headlines became ever more tragic, an overwhelming sense of burnout amongst audiences was being fueled by the news.

In an annual Reuters survey of more than 90,000 participants in 46 different markets, 43% of people said the non-stop barrage of COVID-19 or political news triggered their decisions to embrace selective news avoidance. Additionally, 36% of those same respondents said their moods were negatively affected by the predominantly depressing nature of the news cycle.

Publishers have since then have found themselves in an impossible position: Report honestly on the grim nature of our world’s current events and suffer decreased views, report sensationally and lose credibility, or report on benign topics like celebrity divorces and scandals to keep people entertained but uninformed.

Negativity crushes trust, increasing news avoidance

This is not only a tricky situation for editorial and content teams. News avoidance has also made it difficult to build communities of passionate and engaged followers. It’s even more difficult when the news itself is deemed untrustworthy by misguided or misinformed consumers. The United States, in particular, has to deal with this growing trend. Only one-quarter of US respondents say they trust their nation’s news media.

Audiences will always have thoughts and opinions, particularly when it comes to larger-than-life concepts like the spread of a pandemic or an insurrection to overthrow democracy. It’s natural to want to share those thoughts and open up a discussion about those ideas — this is something that the comment section of an article is quite literally made for.

However, nearly one out of five respondents to the Reuters study said they skew toward news avoidance because sharing their opinions leads to arguments they’d rather avoid.

This goes right to the heart of the challenge that publishers face as they attempt to come up with solutions for their waning engagement and subscription rates. If people don’t feel comfortable expressing their viewpoints, not only will they avoid engaging in open discourse around enticing subject matter, it’s likely they will avoid the content altogether.

How to overcome news avoidance and win over audiences

So, what can publishers do to overcome news avoidance and build thriving communities of passionate readers? The answer is an audience-first, data-informed growth strategy.

By putting the interests of your audience first and creating content aligning with your orgnisation’s values and the goals of your editorial and publishing teams, you’re in good shape to start diminishing the risk of news avoidance.

If you’re able to position yourself as a publisher who delivers high-quality content and makes space for community-based and healthy discourse, you’re on track to winning back your audience and gaining access to valuable first-party data that will further inform your efforts.

Behavioural insights are essential in the current digital publishing landscape. That data can be difficult to acquire without an analytics team, but turn-key solutions do exist:

• Shadow banning against community violators

Platforms built by moderators to help other moderators maintain a positive community are available to you and your teams.

One valuable tool for community moderation is time-based shadow banning. These “timeouts” can be handed out to people who frequently disobey community guidelines and spread toxicity.

Labelling comments can help reinforce those guidelines further: highlight ones aligned with guidelines, note ones that veer off topic with more random postings, and flag those that are outright attacks on authors or other community members.

Through careful and considerate moderation, you’ll be better able to promote cooperative and respectful dialogue among readers. By making the space for discussion safer, you create an inviting opportunity to potential users who may have been avoiding your content as a means of dodging unwanted conflict and toxicity.

• IP lookups to restrict or block suspected trolls

Obviously, publishers need to grow their audiences to stay afloat. A healthy, sizeable viewership is essential for revenue and data-informed learning opportunities — not to mention it is extremely appealing to advertisers and affiliates eager to spend money to connect with those readers.

Unfortunately, if trolls or extremists harass other community members to the point of pushing them toward news avoidance, the quality of the viewership is greatly diminished. Quantity is not better than quality, even when views and shares are important metrics to help boost subscriptions.

Instead, you can use platforms with built-in IP address lookup capabilities to find these bad actors and moderate their posts so they can no longer disrupt the rest of the community. This will also help you avoid inadvertently violating your affiliates’ publishing guidelines and risk losing vital business, which was a hard lesson learned by the people of Parler following January 6.

• Moderate conversations, live events, community chats, and reviews

Finally, use your moderation console to encourage healthy dialogue across all digital streams affiliated with your publication. This can include conversations in the comments section of an article to interactions in live events and community chats. You can even influence the tone of ratings and reviews about your publication to stop misleading negativity from spreading.

The console plugs directly into each of these forums, allowing your entire editorial team to work out of the same space and enforce consistent guidelines across each outlet. Not only does this increase your team’s efficiency and productivity, but you’ll set a standard for your audience about what kind of community they can expect from your publication. This is how you set the stage to build trust and authenticity — two absolutely necessary traits to grow your audience.

While the world is ever-changing and readers adjust the way they consume content, publishers need to be mindful of how to create spaces that can be informative, safe, and encouraging for their readers.

This blog was originally published by INMA

Publimetro – engaging and growing new levels of community with Viafoura

Publimetro, Mexico, is a daily newspaper currently focused on Chile, Colombia and Mexico. It is one of several Metro World News Media Group companies that cover 14 countries, and 7 languages. Their unique and powerful content is a direct result of their specialized editors, who give their readers the best, up-to-the-minute coverage of national and international news, sports, and entertainment across multiple platforms.

Publimetro Mexico is looking to not only grow its audience, but to provide them with a personalized and engaging digital experience that will expand their time on site. Publimetro’s goal is to create an environment that will both engage and grow its communities, while enhancing its first-party data strategy. With the use of Viafoura’s full suite of services, including Conversations, Moderation, Trending Articles, Comment Counter, as well as Topic and Author Follows, Publimetro Mexico will be able to identify how users are interacting with the content as well as create new communities for those segments within its data ”.

With the active, high intent, first-party data now being collected through their engaged users, Publimetro Mexico will be able to diversify their revenue streams by building deep and valuable user segments that will drive in-line ad revenue.

“We are very excited to be expanding into Mexico and bringing secure, eclectic and profitable communities to Publimetro! We’re looking forward to converting users down the funnel and adding a new, growing layer of engagement”  says Dalia Vainer, Director Customer Experience at Viafoura.

How UGC Contributors Boost Retention And Registrations

There’s an old marketing rule of thumb that successful companies emulate. It costs 5x more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. Companies that heavily invest in retention strategies increase the customer lifetime value (CLTV) of their customers, which translates into heavy cost savings as it requires less money to be spent on net new acquisition campaigns.

In the digital publishing industry, the model is very similar. Some studies suggest that converting unknown readers into new subscribers generates, on average, between a 5% to 20% success rate. On the other hand, converting registered or known users into subscribers is far more effective with success stories in a range of 60% to 70%.

How to build audiences: foster fast-paced communities

When you have communities of engaged readers, you’re more likely to create a lively forum. People love to express their opinions on a topic, especially if an argument has been so articulately laid out by a subject matter expert in a written article. A healthy commenting platform allows readers to share their own thoughts on the subject and open up a lively debate.

These UGC contributors demonstrate their affinity for your content by leaving their comments and engaging in lively discussions with other readers. This shows an active willingness on their part to increase their CLTV for your business.

On top of that, your UGC contributors can actively help you attract new readers at no additional cost. According to AdWeek, nearly half of millennials and over 35% of baby boomers trust UGC content over branded content. This means your commenting section can be one of your top acquisition channels. You just need to invest in a solid retention strategy to get your active UGC contributors to engage with the content.

Use first-party data to profile your most avid commenters

First-party data is fully consented data. At a time when consumer privacy is paramount and third-party cookies will be eliminated, first-party data has become the most valuable resource to help publishers gain a deeper understanding of their most avid consumers.

If a user creates an account on your site to read or comment on your content, that action is an example of first-party data. Each action that user takes from that point onward is a first-party data touchpoint that you can use to build a rich audience profile. Using a first-party data strategy, you can gain consent from audiences to:

  • Send more personalized notifications to your active readers
  • Develop segmented audience experiences based on user preferences
  • Boost community engagement by monitoring audience behavioral metrics
  • Deploy data-informed push notifications to increase engagement with premium content

Deploy content recommendation modules to boost audience engagement

Once you have data-driven audience profiles, you can start personalizing the experience on your website. Using your first-party data, you can identify common themes, topics, writers, keywords, and other commonalities that motivate your UGC contributors to leave a comment.

With those insights in hand, use your content recommendation modules to tailor the articles that appear for those users. Studies have shown that personalized content recommendations will boost paywall impression rates by at least 10% and conversion rates by 30%. You can motivate more readers to go beyond the paywall so that they can post their own thoughts and engage in healthy discussions with like-minded participants.

Encouraging UGC commenting and healthy discussions is a growth strategy that can prove to be very effective. The Independent, one of the world’s leading publications, used this exact commenting and conversion-based experience strategy. Over the course of 12 months, the Independent was able to add 2,000 new website registrations with comments.

Grow your community and encourage real-time conversation

As you profile highly engaged users, you can use your automated moderation tools to create a healthy digital community for your UGC contributors. Automated moderation tools are designed to keep communities engaged, prevent toxic or harassing comments, and reward meaningful contributors with special labels to elevate their status on the forum.

Creating a safe and healthy community for discussion is essential to boosting audience engagement. Studies have shown that 4 out of 10 news comment readers refuse to publish their own thoughts or opinions due to toxic or argumentative communities.

Remember that nearly half of all millennials and over one third of baby boomers trust UGC contributors over branded content. Audience engagement and UGC contributions are essential to create that vibrant community and encourage new readers to register their own rights to comment on your content.

If you’re not creating a healthy community to facilitate lively UGC discussions, you don’t have an effective retention and engagement strategy. And without an audience retention and engagement strategy, you can’t rely on your commenting section to help grow your business. Ultimately, you’re leaving a viable path for growth untouched on the table.

The New Daily drives engagement, first-party data, and revenue diversification with Viafoura.

The New Daily
is an online, non-paywalled, Australian digital news site that was founded in 2013. It features content such as breaking news, politics, finance, entertainment, lifestyle, sports, and weather from Australia and around the World.

Like many publishers, The New Daily is keen to provide its readers with the opportunity to contribute their unique viewpoints to a vibrant and safe community. Ingrid von Bibra, Publisher, at The New Daily says they are “excited to increase user engagement whilst also providing their editorial team with valuable feedback and user insights”.

By implementing Viafoura’s Conversations, Live Blogs, Community Chat, Trending Articles, Topic Follows, and Moderation solutions, The New Daily is driving their first-party data strategy forward at an accelerated rate. With data generation now in hyperdrive, the team has access not only to traditional information such as PVs, Dwell Time, and RFV values, but extensive insight on user sentiment, interests, propensity, and community participation as well.

Viafoura is excited to be working with The New Daily. “The energy that The New Daily has brought to this initiative is palpable! We’re delighted to be their chosen partner for reimagining the audience experience and unlocking a new first-party data strategy” says Dalia Vainer,Director, Customer Experience.

As The New Daily continues to reap the rewards of Viafoura’s turn-keysolutions, nothing but positive outlooks remain for continued audiencegrowth, engagement wins, and revenue diversification.

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