Standing for something, no matter how niche or expansive, was the common thread that tied together three disparate case studies Thursday at the INMA World Congress of News Media. The session focused on how publishers are maximising their core subscriptions revenues.

Eric Gillin, chief business officer for the lifestyle division of Condé Nast, described Architectural Digest’s new AD Pro members-only premium platform offering exclusive news, trade tools, services, and special events created specifically for design industry professionals.

Eric Gillin, chief business officer for the lifestyle division of Condé Nast, shares the story behind Architectural Digest's members-only platform.
Eric Gillin, chief business officer for the lifestyle division of Condé Nast, shares the story behind Architectural Digest's members-only platform.

We realised that we were seen as this ultimate design authority,” Gillin said. “We really had a special brand that resonated with them. We were validating these people. And this recognition — really, they appreciated that.”

The membership is US$240.

Among other things, Condé Nast retrieved and digitised 100 years of back issues to create an exclusive trove of resource information for the programme’s members.

Networking was a really huge part of this,” Gillin said, which is why we called it a membership.”

Suzi Watford, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at the 130-year-old Wall Street Journal, described how the news media company decided to buck news industry trends and its own hardline subscriptions strategy to partner with the new Apple News+ service.

Suzi Watford, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at The Wall Street Journal, explains the thinking behind the company's partnership with Apple News+.
Suzi Watford, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at The Wall Street Journal, explains the thinking behind the company's partnership with Apple News+.

For years, WSJ has laser-focused on building its own digital subscriber base and staunchly refused to make its content available anywhere else.

According to the Journals own coverage of its Apple News+ deal: The paper finished 2018 with 1.71 million digital subscribers, with a full-priced subscription costing $39 a month. Its print subscribers totaled about 840,000. The Apple partnership is viewed as an opportunity to bring in revenue from a broader audience.”

A WSJ subscription through Apple News+ costs just US$9.99 and offers less content than full-price access. Watford called it a more for more and less for less” strategy.

“We spent a long time trying to make paid content and subs models work,” Watford said. We have to very clear in what we believe in. But we have to remember readers and audiences change, new models evolve, and what was once unthinkable can become undeniable.”

Jerzy Wójcik, publisher of Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, makes it clear that every subscription to his newspaper — established when Communism fell in Poland in 1989 — is essentially a vote for democracy and free elections.

That call to action has resulted in a spike in digital subscriptions and growth for the first time in years, Wójcik said.

Jerzy Wójcik, publisher of Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, explains how digital subscriptions and democracy are related.
Jerzy Wójcik, publisher of Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza, explains how digital subscriptions and democracy are related.

According to the company, there are now 170,549 digital subscriptions and between January and December 2018, the number of the Wyborcza.pl individual subscribers grew by another 37,000, and increased by 31% year over year.”

“Great result of Gazeta Wyborcza in digital subscriptions at the end of 2018 is not only impressive in terms of numbers – it also represents the customers who systematically use our content,” Wójcik said. Each purchased subscription is very important to us, as not only it allows Gazeta Wyborcza to exist, but it is also a signal that in Poland the number of people attaching importance to public affairs and basic values, such as democracy, freedom of speech and tolerance, is growing each week.”