The Best New (And Old) Reader Revenue Strategies: 4 Takeaways from the Taktak-led session at the WAN-IFRA Congress

by | Jun 20, 2024 | Taktak News | 0 comments

During last month’s World News Media Congress in Copenhagen, a panel of industry leaders explored the latest industry insights on reader revenue models. The WAN-IFRA (World Associations of News Publishers) event was a chance to showcase the Taktak project. The reader revenue session was moderated by Irene Caselli of Worldcrunch, the global news site that is project lead for Taktak

Here are four takeaways from the session: 

  • 1. Trigger a sense of belonging 

In order for your reader revenue model to work and get engagement (whether it is a paywall, subscription model, donation system), you need to trigger emotions and a sense of belonging. “Readers need to be proud to be associated with your journalism,” said Francesca Beighton, General Manager of Reader Revenue & Grant Funding at the Daily Maverick (South Africa). 

Lea Korsgaard, Editor in chief at Zetland (Denmark), shared Zetland’s recipe for success: “It only works if people understand that what they are paying for is not only information, not only news, it is also a community, a place where they are not only seen as customers but as people who can help enhance the journalism”. In other words: membership models work because of the reader’s sense of belonging to a community.

  • 2. Testing new models 

Revenue models need to be flexible for the readers and be adapted to different situations. Tomas Bella, Chief Digital Officer at Dennik N (Slovakia), said it’s important to test different revenue models and see what works and what doesn’t. A subscription model can be combined with micro-donations for example. 

Francesca Beighton added: “saying that journalism is only appreciated if you’ve paid for it is not true. The most efficient way we get members to sign up is through direct mailings and every week we get hundreds of emails saying “I’m so sorry I can’t contribute but I really appreciate your workand what they do is contributing through donations.”

  • 3. Adapt to reader behaviour 

In order to attract and build customer loyalty, it is important to know your readers, study their behaviour and adapt rapidly to their needs. For example, when Zetland’s readers asked if they could listen to their content, they answered positively and now: “80% of Zetland’s content is consumed through the ears and that’s because our members asked us to” said Lea Korsgaard

At Dennik N, journalists are studying readership data in order to adjust and produce more content and/or longer articles if a specific topic has performed better with  the readers. “It’s really about quality over quantity” explained Tomas Bella. Theaverage length of Dennik N’s articles doubled and the total number of articles went down in the last 10 years. 

  • 4. Are Paywalls still relevant? 

During the second part of the session, our panellists debated whether there is still value in paying for quality content ?

From Zetlands point of view, subscriptions are important as they put a price on the content which values the work of the journalists: “readers need to understand that quality news isn’t for free”.  

Tomas Bella supported this point of view and went even further: “from the beginning we said that this is not just about emotions; news is an actual product and you will be paying for it” 

Francesca Beighton pushed back on this point, noting that the Daily Maverick does not have any Paywall and that in the context of South Africa, it is a way for the public to get reliable information without necessarily having a budget to pay for it.