Der Tag app uses automatic content curation to grow digital subscriptions

By Nico Wilfer

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Frankfurt, Germany


The secondary use of content is part of the standard repertoire of every publishing house. Revenue from content licensing to press services, B2B customers, and syndication partners is a long-established business.

At the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany, we started experimenting a long time ago with a kind of secondary usage of our online content in real time. The hypothesis was that automated, algorithm-based content compilations would allow us to generate additional revenues beyond our digital core products without having to produce or curate additional content.

The news app contains less editorial coverage but draws more readers into its sales funnel.
The news app contains less editorial coverage but draws more readers into its sales funnel.

The most important result was the news app Der Tag (German for “the day”). The app concentrates on the most important pieces of the day without showing our complete content offer to users. The app uses a novel user experience in which the user consumes content in an optically exciting way.

Concentrating on the most important content is not perceived as a limitation but as added value. Users can be sure they know the most important news of the day in a short time span. All text automatically enters the app based on rules without being selected and edited by an editor. In contrast to our normal news app FAZ.NET, Der Tag deliberately removes a lot of content and functionalities.

We learned the new app does not cannibalise the reach of our extensive news app or the advertising business generated from it. On the contrary, an exclusive marketing model for advertising customers (they can place ads exclusively on the app on a weekly basis) enables us to generate more revenue that would not have been possible without the app.

The app also drives paid content revenues. The same content rules for our freemium model apply to our news portal: A significant portion of the content can only be read with payment. In this way, we increase advertising revenues, are more visible in the app stores, and bring more users to the paid content funnel.

In developing this model, we paid particular attention to making sure users understood what distinguished the “additional" product” (the app) from the previous one. The same applied to advertising customers: A mere extension of the reach would not have been very exciting for them. It was also important that the product follow the established paid content rules.

About Nico Wilfer

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