Commentary

Apple's Subscription Offer Codes Provide Added Flexibility For Publishers

Apple has caused plenty of consternation among publishers and advertisers with its plan to give customers more controls over their data privacy early next year. At the same time, it is giving publishers more tools to generate subscription revenue from their apps.
The technology giant last week began giving app developers -- which include traditional print publishers that have created apps -- a way to create "subscription offer codes." That means circulation managers can generate single-use codes for readers to redeem at the App Store, Apple's online marketplace with more than 1.8 million apps. Alternatively, publishers can create a one-time redemption website or set up their apps to accept the offer codes.
When marketing subscriptions, a publisher could create a special offer code at different times for specific audiences in the renewal cycle, or to convert new readers. Those offer codes can be sent in emails and push notifications, or even printed on brochures and other marketing collateral handed out at conferences, fairs, festivals or other live events.
Apple lets publishers configure their offer codes in different ways to determine eligibility, and whether they can be combined with introductory offers. Apple previo let publishers create different kinds of offers, such as free subscriptions for a limited time.
The introduction of offer codes comes as Apple plans to change the fee structure for the App Store to help smaller publishers. The company next year will cut the commission it charges from 30% to 15% for any business that makes no more than $1 million through the App Store, which typically includes in-app purchases and download fees.
The change will mean that any publisher that makes less than $1 million on subscriptions processed through the App Store could save as much as $150,000 in fees. However, the fee will stay at 30% for businesses that make more than $1 million, excluding the commission payments to the company.
Apple's moves to help publishers aren't completely altruistic. The company thrives when the app economy does well, especially when publishers generate higher subscription revenue from new customers and renewals.

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