Commentary

News Publishers Must Have Strategy To Retain Light Readers

News publishers with maturing subscription businesses can find higher revenue growth by engaging consumers who tend to be casual readers. This bigger audience group tends to consist of late adopters that sustain longer-term reader revenue for publishers, according to the International News Media Association.

A report from the trade group describes how the pandemic led to a surge in demand among heavy news consumers for subscriptions from trustworthy sources. While those readers are an important source of revenue for news organizations, there may not be enough of these dedicated readers to drive growth.

This dynamic is evident in a study of how the composition of conversions changes over time.

Readers who visit a news site at least 10 days a month, the heavy users, make up 27% of conversions in the first month of its launch, according to data compiled by cloud-based subscription platform Piano. That percentage falls to 19% by the 12th month since a launch.

As the portion of heavy users declines, the light readers make up a bigger part of the subscriber base. The percentage of readers who visit a news site once a month rises from 33% to 37%, while readers who are active two to nine days a month climbs from 40% to 44%, according to Piano.
Engaging that bigger group of light readers and retaining them as subscribers is a process of identifying the content that’s most meaningful to them, rather than inundating them with a barrage of articles.

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Readers who find value in a subscription, even if it means reading a handful of stories a month, can also be long-term loyalists.

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