Funke Mediengruppe is still learning how reader revenue is going to work, said Ruth Betz at the INMA Media Innovation Week in Hamburg, Germany, in September 2019.
“We just started the process, and now we have to learn to make data-informed decisions,” Betz said. “We have to learn to work with the new dashboards. We have to learn what our target groups are interested in.”
It’s not enough to just get all of the readers onboard, she said: “We really have to treat them like gold. We have to talk to them. We have to explain to them why this product is perfect.”
There is so much more to learn, she said. The Funke team is really just at the beginning of this journey.
“But at least we’ve started it, and we’re all very enthusiastic. There’s a lot more to go, but we’ve had a good start.”
Betz did not see the huge transformation to digital and reader revenue models coming.
“What I saw was that we had a problem,” she said. “That was very clear. I worked for some other brands, and they were also very enthusiastic. But I could see that we had stories that everyone else also had.”
The question became: Why would someone pay for content that they could simply Google and find for free? She also recognised the revenue model behind that was based on advertising — and that advertising revenue model didn’t translate to mobile from desktop.
“So it was quite obvious that we have stories that will not make the user pay for it because there is just too much free content available on the same story. And the money we get from the advertising business will not be enough anymore.”
This is even more obvious with the huge platforms like Google and Facebook competing for the same audience and revenue.
“I was pretty sure that we were coming to an end here, but I really didn’t know what the answer would be. I was so happy when I realised that at Funke, there’s content that’s local news that nobody else has.”
This content is valuable and needed by readers.
“It’s not only driven by advertising, but now it’s also driven by reader revenue,” Betz said. “And people are willing to pay for that, because it’s worth something.”