With a hugely successful subscription execution under its belt, the obvious next step for the Norwegian local media market leader Amedia was to test upselling subscription bundles. But how to decide the content of upsell packages? With a majority ownership in 70+ local newspapers, the answer turned out to be simple: everything.
On May 18, Amedia launched +Alt (“+Everything”), a subscription package offering digital access to all content across more than 70 newspapers. Two weeks on, the initial interest has far surpassed our initial targets, offering hope for a powerful and promising new revenue stream.
Tying together journalism from all our newspapers into a single subscription package is not a new idea. Amedia was already testing the scheme in controlled, regional offerings in early 2020. In essence, we were primed for an industrial-scale offering when the government shut down communities during the coronavirus pandemic in March.
With news demand soaring — and with a fierce interest in local newspapers from places where our readers have family, friends, holiday homes, or are otherwise connected — Amedia chose to give access to all the content of its newspaper network to its more than 600,000 subscribers (Norway has roughly 2.4 million households), at no extra cost, for the entire month of April.
“We have long considered the possibility of establishing this kind of subscription package,” said my colleague, Executive Vice President Anders Opdahl. Opdahl is in charge of editorial development at Amedia and is certain the offering will meet an ongoing need many of our subscribers have: “This is a news offering from the whole country to the whole country. No one but Amedia is in position to offer anything resembling this, and the added value for the subscriber is immediate and clear.”
Amedia has journalists present in 260 Norwegian municipalities and thus covers daily what happens in areas where three out of four Norwegians reside. The 900+ editorial staff members at Amedia produce approximately 50,000 articles a month, at least half of which is exclusively reserved for subscribers.
Uptake to the free offering was immediate, proving Opdahl right. Throughout April, more than 170,000 Amedia news subscribers took advantage of the opportunity, most of them actively reading subscriber-only news stories from all over the country.
The success of the free offering made the decision to launch a paid product easy.
Starting May 18, Amedia made the offer permanent through its new, paid, multi-subscription +Alt. All subscribers will be able to upgrade their local newspaper subscriptions to the network of more than 70 local newspapers, as well as the national title Nettavisen.no. Two weeks on, a substantial number have already done so, and sales numbers continue to tick upward every day.
In essence, the subscription upgrades a subscriber user ID to super-access status, enabling access to all newspapers included in the package.
In addition, Amedia has spent time crafting a front-page module offering targeted content from the entire network. A +Alt subscriber will thus be exposed to interesting, personalised content from 70+ newspapers every time he or she visits. This module is driving far higher traffic in the network than pretty much anything we’ve witnessed so far, and we’re currently evaluating how this data may be used to further strengthen the perceived product value.
Project lead Ulrik Aas credits three factors when challenged to explain why the offering has taken off so fast: “Firstly, the corona +Alt edition was a breakaway success, and we managed to be crystal clear in our communication during the free offering,” he said. “Secondly, our optimised product landing page delivers stunning results: a whopping 64% of every visit has converted a new customer so far.”
Finally, he gives credit to what he calls “an extreme data backend and data flow,” enabling the team to rapidly set up tests, streamline communication, and develop personalised offerings and communication. The data streaming from our logged-in readers and subscribers have been instrumental in getting the product-market fit right.
The price of a digital +Alt subscription is set at NOK249 (US$25 or €23) a month, regardless the newspaper in question. That is, for existing subscribers, you pay a variable premium for access to the entire network of newspapers. How much extra depends on the price of your original subscription. If a subscriber is already paying for full digital access to one of our larger newspapers, the +Alt premium is NOK20 (US$2 or €1.85).
The multi-subscription is only available to private individuals, not businesses.