The second annual Google News Initiative (GNI) Subscriptions Lab, in partnership with FT Strategies and the International News Media Association (INMA), will help European publishers with intermediate experience in digital subscriptions to accelerate their reader revenue growth.
The eight-month lab for 2021 will have special meaning for European publishers that saw triple-digit surges in subscription starts last year as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up and are now facing the challenge of retaining and engaging those new subscribers in creative ways.
Based on GNI subscription labs from around the world, yet infused with FT Strategies’ “North Star” methodologies and guidance from INMA Readers First Initiative lead Greg Piechota, the European Subscriptions Lab will include eight media companies with similar experiences.
The application process is now open to European publishers through February 17. Click here to apply online.
Last year, 50+ European publishers applied for the programme, from which eight were selected. A similar selection process will aim to find media companies of similar sizes, focuses, and experience as cooperation is crucial to the programme’s success.
The Subscriptions Lab is ambitious and will review how publishers are executing from discovery to conversion to retention. While publishers will receive dedicated one-on-one support, they will be asked to share their successes and learnings with the news industry worldwide at an INMA Subscription Town Hall in October.
Through a meticulous process created by FT Strategies, the consulting art of the Financial Times, target outcomes include revenue and subscription volume growth, key subscription metrics, and capability building via implementation of Lab recommendations and adoption of continuous optimisation processes based on the FT North Star methodology.
The workshops, group sessions, and one-on-one sessions — all of which will be held virtually because of the pandemic — will be augmented by INMA briefings and a Slack channel designed to facilitate conversation among participants.
The European Subscriptions Lab from GNI, FT Strategies, and INMA has high standards for participating publishers. Required publisher commitments include digital subscriptions as a strategic priority, senior management buy-in, operational commitment to the Lab, and willingness to share knowledge gained in the Lab with participants and the wider media industry. These publisher commitments are crucial in the selection process.
Mark Peters, director EMEA Partnerships Solutions for Google, said: “We want to continue supporting publishers of all sizes in finding a sustainable future, especially around growing their reader revenue. This second round of GNI Subscriptions lab for Europe, in partnerships with FT Strategies and INMA, will enable participating publishers to understand drivers of performance, set ambitious goals, and build capabilities for the future.”
“We were immensely proud of the first Subs Lab programme we delivered last year, and we are determined to make the 2021 edition even more impactful and rewarding for participants,” Tara Lajumoke, managing director of FT Strategies, said. “Subscription models have proven to be highly resilient throughout the unique circumstances the news industry has experienced over the past year. The wider organisational transformation that this programme offers will enable eight publishers to unlock the full value of subscriptions and support them in future-proofing their digital business."
“INMA’s partnership with the Google News Initiative and FT Strategies will again elevate the subscription game for eight select European publishers,” Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA, said. “Yet with Europe being the heart of digital subscriptions worldwide, we believe learnings can benefit publishers worldwide. We look forward to hosting a town hall later this year to share those best practices.”
About Google News Initiative
The Google News Initiative represents Google’s largest-ever effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Through its partnerships, programmes and products, the Google News Initiative works with thousands of organisations worldwide to support quality independent journalism, financial sustainability, and development of new technologies that drive innovation. Google allocated US$300 million over three years to energise these collaborations, and to lay the foundation for new products and programs for a diverse set of news publishers, to benefit the entire ecosystem. This includes supporting thought leadership on topics like consumer revenue, advertising, and data that are critical to the future of the news industry.
About FT Strategies
FT Strategies is a boutique digital consultancy within the Financial Times. The firm has deep expertise in reader revenue, customer engagement, and analytics, enabling companies to build profitable digital relationships with their audiences, thrive in the new digital economy, and future-proof their businesses.
The International News Media Association (INMA) is a global community of market-leading news media companies reinventing how they engage audiences and grow revenue in a multi-platform environment. The INMA community consists of 16,000+ members at 850 media companies in 70+ countries and features strategic initiatives dedicated to digital subscriptions, data, and product.