Are paid digital subscriptions the only way for publishers to grow?

Are paid digital subscriptions the only way for publishers to grow?

The 2020 Zuora’s report has both good and bad news for the publishing segment. It will come as no surprise to anyone that they are the result of the pandemic. Subscription volume continues to grow despite the COVID-19 situation; however, ads value is decreasing even faster than before without any sign of stopping. 


“Publishers who are not using digital subscriptions should start”  

The quote comes directly from the report. Publishers working from a large database should attempt to engage audiences and upsell new services, in this case – digital subscriptions. By analyzing the subscription revenue, we can see a healthy, constant rise for some years. The growth pace has recently slowed, yet it’s still trending upward – as one of the few, may I add.  

“You subscribe with high expectations. If you find after a few months that you are not using the service that much, you may drop … Publications subscriptions tend to be for a longer time — a year or six months for an introductory offer. So, you have more time to assess how useful it is.”   

~ Amy Konary, the Subscription Economy Index analysis  


The end of the newspaper ads?  

On the contrary to digital subscriptions, advertising has been flat for some time and it has decreased further throughout 2020, especially for newspapers. The decrease isn’t that sharp in the case of social media and streaming TV, but it is substantial.  


Go digital and collaborate!  

The reports highlight the 5-to-1 digital to print ratio of younger readers. For legacy publications, this is the area to build in (keeping in mind the need for strong ad volume). Smaller or niche publications, in order to avoid churn (the loss of previous subscribes) and manifest value to customers, should consider collaboration with other, “authentic” and creative businesses. We can use the example of sports-related companies and business publications. This combo can collaborate and give-in-depth coverage of sports business reports – it could definitely be beneficial for both ends 


It is the only way to maintain local journalism  

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll in many industries, journalism being one of them. Therefore, publishing houses must be open to new solutions and not necessarily stick to those already proven, they simply may not work at present times. Building paid subscriptions in the digital sphere is one of them, as well as the linking of related services or publications.