Expressen focuses new premium products, digital engagement over conversions

By Robert Okpu

Stockholm, Sweden


There is already a lot of buzz about INMA’s Media Subscriptions Summit, taking place this week in Stockholm. In light of the summit, INMA caught up with Josefina Rickardt, chief marketing officer and head of consumer revenues at Expressen, to discuss what the media company has been doing in the area of digital subscriptions. We spoke to Anna Careborg, CEO of Svenska Dagbladet, as well.

“There cannot be too much innovation, and I hope the media industry will invest more in innovation moving forward,” said Josefina Rickardt, chief marketing officer and head of consumer revenues at the Swedish daily Expressen. “And I think it has already begun.” 

Expressen, though, can hardly be accused of being ahead of the curve with it’s digital media strategy since the turn of the millennium. 

Expression launched its first premium digital subscription service in late 2018, well behind its main competitor. But there are strategic reason why.
Expression launched its first premium digital subscription service in late 2018, well behind its main competitor. But there are strategic reason why.

For example, Expressen, which is Sweden’s second-largest news provider online, didn’t launch the digital subscription service “Premium” until late 2018. Its main competitor, Aftonbladet, launched its “Plus” service as early as 2003. 

Rickardt explained why:

“It was actually a strategic decision to do so. We were very far behind digitally back in the early 2000s. We set off to grow our digital audience and had tremendous digital growth very quickly. We increased our market share from below 20% to close to 50% between 2012 and 2019.

Once we had reached a steady digital position as one of the largest news sites in Sweden together with our competitor Aftonbladet, we decided it was time to launch Expressen Premium and have done so with success. Expressen Premium is very popular and has become an important revenue stream for us.” 

Bonnier News launched its new digital subscription offer +Allt (“Plus All”) on February 27. Rickardt shared more about this content and pricing strategy, which includes several of the group’s newspapers. 

“We are extremely happy to launch this amazing product on the market and to be the first to do so in Sweden,” she said. “+Allt is something our readers, and news consumers in general have been requesting one subscription that gives you access to multiple news sites with the same login at an attractive price, a little bit like Spotify. 

“That is what +Allt is. You get Expressen Premium, and digital access to 43 local news sites across Sweden such as Sydsvenskan, NA, VLT, and Söderhamns-Kuriren with the same login for only SEK199 a month, around €20. We believe +Allt will make our crucial journalism reach many more people and be popular among existing subscribers as it provides you with more journalism in a super easy and user-friendly way.”

Rickardt also explained the thinking behind “Engagement Month,” an Expressen initiative to prioritise engagement instead of conversion. This is now nominated as “Innovation of the Month” at the Swedish Newspaper of the Year awards to be held in late March 2023. 

“When working with subscription services, you know high engagement is key,” Rickardt said. “The more your subscribers use your product and find it useful, the less inclined they are to leave your service and try something else. Our data and analysis showed a clear relationship between high engagement  — which in our case is using our site or app a lot and reading many articles — and low churn. In order to put the spotlight on the importance of engagement we launched the ‘Engagement Month.’ All dashboards normally showing conversions and conversion goals were replaced with data showing engagement and engagement goals instead, pageviews on Premium articles.”

The team shared reports every week, displaying what had succeeded, she explained. All editorial departments and teams in the project were asked to spread their learnings and be innovative.  

“We also held meetings where we discussed insights and learnings,” she said. “All departments were involved throughout the project: editorial, analysis, commercial, and tech. This way we got everyone informed and inspired on the topic of engagement and the results were great. We succeeded in increasing engagement and decreasing churn.” 

Expressen's Premium Max product includes live sports video coverage.
Expressen's Premium Max product includes live sports video coverage.

And finally, Expressen’s “Premium Max” offer is 179 SEKper month, approximately €15, and includes live sports video coverage. Exclusive sports rights are expensive to acquire, but Rickardt explained the strategy:  

“Expressen has a large and very dedicated sports audience to whom we are thrilled to offer streaming of live sporting events in addition to news, coverage, and our initiated sports journalism,” she said. “Most other streaming services of sport events only offer the sports events, while we offer journalism, too. This makes us unique compared to traditional broadcasters dealing with sports events. A strategic cooperation within Bonnier News, sports events are being broadcasted on several platforms — both at Expressen through Premium Max and on our local news sites — makes it a win business-wise.”

The INMA Media Subscriptions Summit is March 6-10. Details can be found here

About Robert Okpu

By continuing to browse or by clicking “ACCEPT,” you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance your site experience. To learn more about how we use cookies, please see our privacy policy.