European Subscriptions Lab 2.0 looks for 8 publishers ready for transformative work

By Earl J. Wilkinson

International News Media Association (INMA)

Dallas, Texas, United States


One of the dirty little secrets of the subscriptions game for news media companies is while most are pleased with their paywall model and strategy, most are simultaneously looking at new models and new strategies.

This is hardly the basis for a solid relationship, yet that is what survey after survey of INMA member publishers say over the past four years.

Publishers are looking for ideas, inspiration, insights. They are pensive. They are committed to no one model because the paid content space is changing that quickly. What works today likely won’t work tomorrow. Yesterday’s metered model is now an exotic hybrid: meter + freemium with a timewall twist. 

Understanding those details is why more and more media companies are turning to INMA for hints as to the “next big thing” in subscriptions. 

So, what can INMA — running the news industry’s broadest look at digital subscriptions via its Readers First Initiative — tell me that I don’t already know?

Learning those nuances — diving deeply into the subject — is why INMA is a partner with the Google News Initiative and FT Strategies in the second-year European Subscriptions Lab.

For 2021, we are looking for eight European news media companies with intermediate experience in digital subscriptions willing to go through eight months of training by the smartest subscription experts at the Google News Initiative, FT Strategies, and INMA (represented by Readers First Initiative lead Greg Piechota).

Sound like your company could benefit from free consulting from the world’s best minds in digital subscriptions? Apply now by clicking here. Deadline to apply is Wednesday, February 17.

I like to think the European Subscriptions Lab is inclusive, yet make no mistakes the standards for participating publishers are high: 

  • Digital subscriptions must be a strategic priority. 
  • Senior management must buy in. 
  • There must be an operational commitment to the Lab.
  • Participating publishers must be willing to publicly share learnings.

Last year’s inaugural Lab not only engaged subscriptions teams, it gave INMA insights into the realities behind how publishers are executing from discovery to conversion to retention. We were baptised into the FT North Star methodology via workshops, group sessions, and one-on-one sessions. 

As we heard during yesterday’s INMA Media Subscriptions Summit 4.0, COVID dramatically accelerated the publisher subscription journey over the past year. Yet it also created a new sense of urgency — especially for publishers under three years into that journey — to get this right. How to elevate acquisition? How to solve the “real” problems behind retention? How to bring the newsroom into the engagement game? How to rally the entire company behind a single reader revenue path?

If these are concerns and questions for your company and you meet the criteria for the European Subscriptions Lab by Google News Initiative, FT Strategies, and INMA, apply today. Got questions about the programme? Reach out to me directly.

About Earl J. Wilkinson

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