Since 2013, Ekstra Bladet has been trying to succeed with various versions of paid content on our digital platforms. We have worked continuously on Ekstra Bladet + or -, a paid content business strategy on top of operating Denmark’s biggest news Web site. In spite of great efforts, we experienced a declining subscription base, sales were decreasing, and so was our existing customer base. 

One of our problems was that we were producing a lot of great content — great stories that sold a lot of subscriptions — but these were “one offs.” Each time we published one of these successes, the following month we could see we were losing our new customers again because we didn’t have new content of the same type to keep them as subscribers.

Ekstra Bladet turned to data scientists to help re-examine its whole approach to paid content.
Ekstra Bladet turned to data scientists to help re-examine its whole approach to paid content.

Another problem was that we were not focused enough on what sort of content we were producing. Ekstra Bladet journalists were producing a higher quantity of stories, but we were not selling more subscriptions and revenue was down. We needed a new approach to paid content, and that is why we invented the term “super topics.”

Our data and analytics department provided us with insights that could explain the declining sales and issues with customer retention. 

The most interesting pattern we found through this data was a clear correlation between churn and sales and publication frequency within specific topics. Those topics are the ones we now call “super topics,” and this paid content has become the very core of our business.

Based on the data, the company identified key “super topics” that gain and keep new readers. This became the primary focus of editorial planning.
Based on the data, the company identified key “super topics” that gain and keep new readers. This became the primary focus of editorial planning.

One of our data scientists, Steffen Bank, explains the new approach to paid content like this: “We crunched all the data regarding our customers at Ekstra Bladet, and during these analyses we applied machine learning methodology in order to create a coherent view of the customer journey with Ekstra Bladet paid content.”

We quickly implemented our learnings about “super topics” in the newsroom, and we saw positive results immediately. Our growth in customer base is 23% and sales are up 50% due to Ekstra Bladet’s new way of working with paid content on digital platforms.

We turned the new approach into a strategy that editors and journalists could embrace. When we are discussing potential stories, we now have a focus and knowledge of what stories types generate new subscribers and what kinds of stories keep them on board. This also has made it possible to explore new platforms that will best support our “super topics,” including vodcast, podcast, and documentaries.