Mediahuis, Tamedia share data-driven strategies that grow subscriptions

By Robert Okpu

Stockholm, Sweden


Mediahuis Group and Tamedia, like news media companies throughout the world, are finding ways to use reader data that makes sense for their market and unique challenges.

During the INMA Media Subscriptions Summit in Stockholm earlier this month, leaders from the two news media companies shared how reader analytics are shaping the digital subscription strategies at their media companies, how those strategies are working, and what lessons they have learned along the way.

Mediahuis focuses on user device preference, personalisation engine

Trui Lanckriet, group data and insights director at Mediahuis in Belgium, share her mindset: “Automate all things normal. Let the mind focus on change.” 

Lanckriet explained the driver behind her and Mediahuis’ current way of thinking:

“The audiences that we are serving are becoming more and more diverse. And as the speed of technology changes, the differences between generations are becoming really huge. And these generations should be treated differently.”

According to Lanckriet, the difference in device preference between the generations is a very serious factor to consider: “With those devices, that will also translate to a different set of channels, formats, desires, et cetera. So that should be more personalised than what we currently are doing.

“And with those devices — especially the small mobile device that is becoming the most important one — the people using that kind of device as their only device to consume media give you just seven seconds to attract their attention. You get on average seven seconds — not just to attract their attention but to ensure that you engage them.”

Mediahuis currently is implementing this way of thinking and working with more than 30 news brands and their organisations, which have more than 1.7 million subscribers (print and digital).

The method Lanckriet recommends rests solidly on the legs of four insight engines:

“An engine is a set of recommendation-classified algorithms,” she said. “A part of it is automation — to make sure that some things will happen more automatically, based on consumer insights that we have, through the consumption of our products.”

Lanckriet explained the importance of the personalisation engine, reminding attendees of the importance of the personalised content selected to be shared with audiences on mobile — the content and the advertising messages.

The Mediahuis way of doing things also incorporates the mindset that to expend the right amount of resources going forward, less time should be spent working with things the company  already has a good grip on: 

“Let’s look at everything that is normal and that we have done for years,” Lanckriet said. “And let’s automate it. And make it more personalised. Maybe first more segmented, then micro-segmented. And then maybe one day, it can be totally personalised.”

She summarised the endgame of this strategy: “If the machines do the normal work that we have been doing for years that we can control … then we have the time to think about the new things.”

Tamedia focuses on user-segmented, platform approach

Nicolas Baumgartner, product and pricing manager at Tamedia in Switzerland, made an interesting remark about the host country of the INMA summit, compared to his own market.

“According to the digital news report of the Reuters Agency, the willingness to pay for online news in Sweden is about 33%, compared to Switzerland, where the willingness to pay for online news is just about 18%,” Baumgartner said. “This is one of the reasons why this topic has high strategic relevance for Tamedia in Switzerland.”

Tamedia’s main subscription growth strategy is to increase gains by a more user-segmented approach on platforms, with additional demand being stimulated by promotions.

Tamedia uses LtS segmentation for the mid- and high-segment pushes on long trials, such as yearly subscriptions because their churn is lower. 

“The segments that are not fully convinced, or are flybys, we approach them with a very flexible offering,” he said. “Which usually means a monthly subscription that they can cancel at any time. We offer this segment a higher discount.”

Tamedia’s overall approach is not that unusual, perhaps. Its main keys being: segmentation, long trials, center-stage effect, and scarcity.

Baumgartner summarised the key learnings of Tamedia so far:

“First, segmentation maximises the average revenue per user by targeting micro-segments with specific offerings. 

“Second, long trials enable customers to get familiar with your product and reduce churn. 

“Third, the centre stage effect uses simple heuristics to canalise awareness onto a specific product. 

“Fourth, limiting the promotions with an end date heavily increases conversions during the last days. 

“And last but not least: the strike through prices perform better than discounts with percentages.”

About Robert Okpu

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