Newspapers

Post Digital Share A Boon To Partners

Newspapers participating in a Washington Post pilot program to share digital content are reporting significant interest from subscribers. Michael Depp reports on the response to the program, announced in March and rolled out last month, which offers free access to the Post’s digital content.   
NetNewsCheck,

At least one local newspaper publisher piloting a digital content-sharing program with The Washington Post has seen a deluge of interest from subscribers after less than a week.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that 7,000 of its subscribers signed on for free access to the Post’s digital content after only five days and one promotional email. The Strib is one of six papers participating in the initial pilot, which offers premium subscribers of those papers free access to the Post’s entire suite of digital products.

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“This really opened my eyes,” says Steve Yeager, VP of marketing and public relations for the Strib. “You try different promotions all the time and you’re happy if you get to three digits.”

The pilot, which the Post announced in March and began rolling out last month, also includes The Dallas Morning News, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Toledo Blade, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

For its part, the Post isn’t sharing any early data among the other participants. “We are still in the very early stages with new publications signing on and partners rolling out their programs to subscribers weekly,” said Shani George, communications manager, in an email. “We are very pleased with the growth we’ve seen so far.”

At the Dallas Morning News, Publisher and CEO Jim Moroney III says after only one real marketing outreach, the paper has seen in “the lower multiple thousands” of subscribers sign on. “Off to a good start, but [we] need more time and data points,” he said in an email.

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The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports over 2,500 redemptions over the offer since launch.

Tom Zeller, audience development manager at the Toledo Blade, says 1,200 subscribers have registered since the initiative was launched two weeks ago with an email and print ad campaign.

“We were really looking at this as something to add value for our print subscribers in the face of an aggressive price increase this year,” Zeller says of the partnership’s fortuitous timing. “It did exactly what we wanted it to do, and we’re still getting more conversions. We’re pretty early in.”

For Jim Bernard, the Strib’s SVP of digital, the partnership and its strong early yield could serve as a template to engage his paper’s own core subscribers but who could be more tangential subscribers to other media outlets.

“What’s really great about this program is the lack of conflict between the business goals of the Washington Post and us,” he says. “Our subscribers are getting an incremental value and are also going to be engage on the Post’s website in a way that will help it and help us retain them. There’s a very interesting and surprising win-win.”

For its part, the Post’s goals have been widely seen as an audience play to increase site traffic and, by extension, its value in the programmatic market. 

“This program is a way for us to work with newspapers and other print and digital partners around the country to both add value to their subscriptions and expose The Post to a wider audience than ever before,” Post president Stephen P. Hills said in a March statement.

New partners, including all 13 newspapers in The E.W. Scripps Company chain along with its broadcaster WCPO-TV, which features a paywall around premium content, will launch later this year. 

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Comments (2) -

Kathy Haley posted over 2 years ago
Fascinating. So...WaPo charges nothing for sharing its digital content and gets an audience boost. USA Today Publisher Larry Kramer, on the other hand, has indicated the national paper would likely charge newspapers a fee to carry its Project Butterfly daily content inserts in print and online. So two different business models for news and features sharing. Let's see where this goes. I hope the Philadelphia Inquirer participates in the WaPo program!
MobileRealist Nickname posted over 2 years ago
Is this site now run by Business Insider? What's with the sensationalized headline? From what I read, there's no "boon" to anyone. Signing up for something that's free means very little. I'd like to know what kind of engagement and actual use occurs as a result of signing up. And the use needs to be measured against prior use. If I am a Star Tribune reader already reading five free Washington Post stories per month before this "offer" and don't increase my readership as a result of signing up, what really happened? If I sign up and never read the Washington Post after doing so, what really happened. Less hype and more critical analysis would be helpful here.

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