The News Subscription Squeeze & The Shift to Apps

Posted Jun 21, 2016

It’s been known for some time that mobile users prefer free content and actively avoid paywalls & paid apps. This trend is no different for the news industry, where traditional news subscription numbers have struggled as users go online. As print circulations fall & publications must redefine themselves, so their tried & true monetization methods must be reimagined.

After all, according to data from PricewaterhouseCoopers recently published by Business Insider, newspaper ad revenue will continue its decline through 2020.


Granted, the overall losses are discouraging. However, the growth in digital ad revenue is promising for news organizations prepared to embrace user news consumption preferences. After all, 89% of mobile users access news properties on their devices. Of these mobile news consumers, 75% of time spent accessing news is done in-app.

Admittedly, these numbers may tempt news publishers to implement subscriptions or other paywalls for their apps. However, the majority of consumers simply do not pay for news coverage.


Thus, traditional news publishers looking to make the most of their monetization potential on mobile may be better served if they offer additional means for users to access premium content. While converting a non-paying user to a paid news subscription is always the end game, many mobile-savvy news publishers are finding new ways to hook & monetize non-paying users.

Most commonly, advertising is used as a gateway to premium content. To read beyond the first 100 words or gain access to premium articles, publishers offer users a few options: pay now or watch an ad to continue. This facilitates a value exchange between the publisher and the user, allowing news organizations to monetize all of their users, not only the small percentage who subscribe.

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