On April 12 of this year, Ekstra Bladet debuted its freemium model with a soft launch, including a few invites and “hidden” information on the Web site. The “Big Bang” launch date came a little more than a month later, on May 13.

We had done a lot of research on business models and studied similar cases before the launch. Because Ekstrabladet.dk is the most visited newspaper and overall Web site in Denmark, it’s crucial for our business to keep traffic at high levels to ensure advertising revenue.

This – and great results for our sister newspaper in Sweden, Aftonbladet — are the main reasons we chose the freemium model instead of metering. It was never an option to close off everything at Ekstra Bladet.

The model is a recurring 30-days subscription plan. We’ve done our utmost to keep the checkout flow on our landing page as simple as possible by using just three steps:

  1. Enter name and e-mail.

  2. Register credit card details.

  3. Get receipt and read the article.

Once you sign up, the first 30 days are a free trial; afterwards we charge €4 every 30 days (i.e., a recurring subscription). You can stop and restart your subscription plan at any time simply by clicking a stop/start button on “My page.”

More than half of those signing up have already turned into paying customers (and many are still within the 30-day free trial).

Quality journalism is in focus at Ekstra, and fortunately it pays off. Investigative journalism, crime investigation, critical consumer journalism, politics, and sports are core Ekstra components. These are central to the DNA of Ekstra Bladet in print as well as online.

Ekstra subscribers get tips and tricks, nostalgia, humour, and articles on relationships, sex, as well as Ekstra Bladet’s famous Page 9 girl. These topics are part of Ekstra Bladet’s identity as well.

Furthermore, Ekstra Bladet has recently strengthened its editorial development team working with digital narratives such as infographics and timelines. The team’s editorial toolbox is frequently used in Ekstra productions.

We have good revenue streams based on our quality journalism in the print edition. Yet, since fewer people buy a newspaper at a newsstand, we have to offer more in-depth material online. In addition, we can enrich and refine the productions, thanks to the opportunities that tablets and mobile devices offer.

During the product development and launch of Ekstra’s paid model, a clear goal has been to ensure it is an integrated part of ekstrabladet.dk without causing negative influence on its position as Denmark’s biggest newspaper Web site. The good news is that traffic has not decreased and visits at ekstrabladet.dk are stable comparing with last year’s numbers.

This has been achieved despite the launch of Ekstra and a significant rise in mobile usage that causes stagnation in traffic on the desktop version of ekstrabladet.dk.

Both national and international lessons learned demonstrate that creating a well-functioning and highly profitable digital subscription plan is going to be a long haul.

Yet, we are very happy with the sound of the starting gun, so far: A survey amongst Ekstra subscribers shows very positive feedback and useful insights on editorial content aimed at the various segments using ekstrabladet.dk