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‘Retention is a key strategic element for all publishers’ subscription strategies:

Subscription models solidifying

by Lucinda Southern

With growing confidence in their own subscriber acquisition strategies, European publishers are making retention a higher priority this year while satisfaction with platform support has declined, according to a report from German media house Axel Springer.

The Guardian, Financial Times, Le Figaro, Schibsted, Axel Springer’s Bild and Business Insider, along with U.S. titles including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times, were among the 34 publishers taking part in the survey about their paid content strategies. The findings were taken during Axel Springer’s sixth annual Paid Content Summit in Germany this month, so naturally, the attendees were publishers with paid content offerings.

“With the paid subscription business becoming more mature and advanced over the last year, retention is a key strategic element for all publishers in the market,” said Stefan Betzold, managing director Axel Springer News Media National Digital. Both Bild Plus and Welt Plus operate freemium models, last October together they reached the 500,000 digital subscribers, with over 400,000 coming from Bild.

Betzold was unwilling to share Bild’s retention rate partly because publishers measure it in different ways, a complaint made by others, but he did say Bild has a subscriber lifetime of about 12 months if they come from its desktop or mobile site, this increases when people subscribe via its app.

Last year, publishers scored churn prevention the fourth most important factor for the year ahead, this year the second most important.

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