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8,000 readers purchase Austin American-Statesman content day pass

30 March 2014 · By Sylvia Rodriguez and TJ McLarty

After a paragraph teaser, non-subscribers are invited to use the US$0.99 day pass programme, giving them access to articles across the media company’s various platforms. Its greatest success? Sports readers.

The Austin American-Statesman launched a US$0.99 day pass programme in August 2013, and has seen 8,000 sales directly related to the campaign since the debut.

Using print and digital banners to market it, the digital day pass offers stubbed stories on our main site.

When readers begin viewing the story, they were led to an invitation box. Once they arrived at the invitation box, readers were required to purchase a day pass to continue reading. 

To date, more than 8,000 readers have purchased day passes. We also discovered the majority of the day passes were purchased through the invitation box, and that a high percentage of those visits were generated through our sports coverage.

The idea came about because, across the industry, it is considered a best practice to give trial access to premium digital-only content.

In Austin, we were responding to consumer requests to access premium digital-only content. This allowed us to target non-traditional subscribers and grant them access to our stories — however and whenever they want to for minimal cost.

The digital day pass allows non-subscribers to purchase digital access to all our premium products for a period of 24 hours for only US$0.99. Our goal was to target non-traditional consumers of our news content — people who don’t traditionally subscribe to the print products and/or do not want to make a long-term commitment.

The digital day pass has had its greatest success with sports coverage.

In the Austin market, anything that is related to University of Texas Longhorns sports coverage (the local university) gets an overwhelming amount of traffic and activity. This is Longhorn country and therefore most, if not all, coverage around the University of Texas is considered premium – which means “for subscribers only.”  

Conversion rates from sports coverage are higher due to the interest of our readers, regardless of whether they are subscribers or not.   

We listened to our online audience and the digital day pass has been a success. The response was better than expected and provided a solution for those readers who didn’t want the commitment of a traditional subscription, but still wanted to have access to our content. 

The invitation box pops up after the reader is allowed to consume about one paragraph of the content, prompting the reader to sign up for the day pass. At that point, they are engaged in the story; but if the consumer wants to continue reading the article, they must purchase a day pass.    

We learned quite a bit during this campaign about how much content we could tease the reader with before asking for a pass purchase. Determining whether we should tease with a paragraph vs. a couple of sentences — or should we provide a summary of what they will read and then entice them to buy? — has been a big topic of conversation. We continue to evaluate this.


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The Ideas Blog captures the practical discussions and case studies of news media company to grow revenue, audience, and brand. These case studies are written by INMA members for INMA members. Begun in December 2012, this content previously resided in Ideas Magazine; for an archive of past case studies, click here.


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Dawn McMullan is the editor of the Ideas Blog and senior editor for INMA. If you are an INMA member and would like to contribute a case study, please contact Dawn directly by clicking here.


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