Close

Copyright © RebelMouse 2020

Follow Us:

In 2019, Publishers Take Back Control with Subscription Success

The Rise of the Mature User

In 2019, readers got clued into the tug of war between publishers and platforms that had been stewing for years. The year began with users all over the world harboring disdain toward the platforms following the fake news fallout of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Facebook's data-misuse scandal. This damaging shadow prompted Facebook to launch its so-called "family and friends" algorithm update in January 2018 to rebuild trust with its users. But it's been an uphill battle ever since.


Release from platform dependency meant that content diversification, new monetization strategies, and audience development became a top priority for publishers big and small throughout the year. The good news is that the chaos made user experience a top priority, too. Just like publishers, the modern content consumer has grown tired of the platforms and, in turn, is willing to find content elsewhere. And thanks to the saturation of content we all battle in the digital realm, readers are all too wary of the ways publishers and marketers use cheap tricks to garner clicks.

Users are ready to consume quality content in a way that's quick, efficient, and less obtrusive than ever before. Still, publishers need to generate revenue. Which is why 2018 didn't just shake up the platforms. It also brought back a resurgence in search, inched us even closer to a world without ads, and ushered in the rise of subscription models.

And it all makes perfect sense. The subscription model eliminates the middleman — such as the platforms — so readers get the experience and content they want, and publishers get the cash they need.

We can count this as a win for digital publishing when looking forward to 2019. Because as the modern user matures, so does technology. And with more control being put back in the hands of publishers, the way we monetize advances in maturity as well.

The Success of Subscriptions

In the past, there was a stigma around paywalls that signaled they were only sustainable for large publishers with massive audiences already in place. But with today's users maturing, subscription models are more attainable for a variety of emerging media properties and legacy names alike.

In the UK, publishers felt their own pressure in 2018 over the uncertainty of the newly instated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Even so, subscriptions served as a driving force of growth for digital revenue, accounting for a 15% increase in revenue over the previous year according to the Association for Online Publishing.

At RebelMouse, our clients are experiencing success with subscriptions as well. The Italian newspaper La Verità, has seen tremendous growth using RebelMouse's paywall system. In August 2018, their returning visitors increased by 74% and new visitors increased by 115%! La Verità is averaging 14 pages per visitor, far above the industry standard.

DiversityInc, which is also powered by RebelMouse, has increased their traffic and captured B2B revenue behind a subscription paywall. This model works well because people want to be associated with brands by virtue of what they stand for. Within 30 days, DiversityInc was able to increase returning visitors by 76% and new visitors by 25%.

In late 2018, The New York Times made headlines at the end of its third quarter with a 200,000+ increase in paid digital subscribers, bringing their grand total up to three million. They also announced a content bundle partnership with Scribd, which could be an interesting trend to follow as subscriptions become more popular. Much like cable networks began to bundle channels into packages, digital subscriptions could follow suit.

Subscriptions and the Platform Puzzle

It's no surprise that the platforms are anxious to get their hands in the subscription game too. Both Facebook and Google debuted features in 2018 to make it easier for publishers to sell subscriptions. In April 2018, Google launched Subscribe with Google with a few partners, which allows a user's Google account to manage several different subscriptions.

A look at Subscribe with Google, from Digiday.

Facebook began testing subscription sales within Instant Articles, and reported in June 2018 that the beta program resulted in a 17% increase in signups. Facebook also held a boot camp throughout Spring 2018 with local news publishers on how to build a successful subscription business. So far, publishers' feelings about these programs have been mixed. While the new integrations may only bring about a slight lift in subscribers, there's a greater appreciation among publishers in knowing (and seeing) that the mega-platforms are making a conscious effort to help them out at all.

Is a Subscription Model Right for You?

When the digital publishing industry first emerged, there was an unspoken truth that content should be free. While this sentiment has definitely changed, the fear of losing users by gating content can be nerve-racking to publishers even in 2019.

It's important to strike the right balance between free content, subscriber revenue, and ad strategy. This is a lot to juggle for publishers who are already maxed out trying to create quality content worth reading.

An example of a subscription environment on DiversityInc.com (powered by RebelMouse).

Paywall API

RebelMouse's paywall API is available to developers to make it easy to manage subscriptions. Access to paid content is managed via subscriptions attached to email qualifiers. Click here for more information on our Paywall API.

Get Started Today

At RebelMouse, we can help you determine if a subscription model will benefit you, and then build a custom, easy-to-use paywall system that works for your site. If you're not publishing on RebelMouse, we also operate as a world-class creative agency that can help you navigate either the subscription business, or any other content strategy you may be building toward. Either way, request a proposal today and let's start working together.

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

Why RebelMouse Is the Best Content Marketing Platform

RebelMouse is a unique platform and company. The company was founded on the vision that media companies would need an always-modern solution to thrive in the new connected internet, and that brands would have to behave like new media companies and use the same platforms.

Keep reading...

New JavaScript Element in Layout & Design Tool

At RebelMouse, we're constantly iterating on our platform to maximize the performance of our websites in order to keep up with the latest standards from Google's PageSpeed Insights tool.

One of the biggest problems with web performance is how the lazy loading of elements is implemented. On RebelMouse, we already have out-of-the-box capabilities that allow you to lazy-load assets, but if you have JavaScript from ads running on your site, Google's PageSpeed Insights tool will still penalize you for them if they're not being deferred off-screen properly.

Keep reading...

View Your Add Media Bar Results in Full-Screen Mode

Browse dynamic assets to enhance every article

In RebelMouse's Entry Editor, there's always an opportunity to add dynamic media to your article using our Add Media Bar. Now, you can browse all the options within the Add Media Bar, including YouTube, Facebook, and GIPHY, in full-screen mode.

To pull up the Add Media Bar, click the ⨁ icon next to your cursor on the left-hand side of the screen. Then, to activate full-screen mode, click the Expand icon on the right-hand side:

Keep reading...

How to Use Google Search Console’s Removals Tool

Quickly remove articles from search or see why a URL was pulled from search

Google recently released a new version of its Removals tool that temporarily blocks URLs from showing up in search results. The tool also shows which content is no longer being displayed due to either being outdated or because it was filtered out by SafeSearch, a Google feature that removes offensive content.

The new tool can be helpful if you want to quickly remove an article from showing up in search or to find information on why your content was removed from search by third-party requests.

Keep reading...

How to Use Override Tags for Headlines + Subheadlines

Customize your preferences easily in our Layout & Design Tool

Site design should be agile, which means it's important to be able to make quick style changes that keep your content cohesive and organized. To make this even easier, there's now the ability to override the tags of your headlines and subheadlines for each article using our Layout & Design tool.

You can make these headline and subheadline changes using a Posts element. Here's a screencast of how this works:

s3.amazonaws.com

The Override default Headline Tag can be set to values <h1> through <h6>. The Override default Subheadline Tag can be set to values <h1> through <h6>, <p>, and <div>.

The new headline and subheadline overrides also work with AMP. If you have any questions about this new feature, email support@rebelmouse.com or contact your account manager today.

You're almost there! Fill out the form below and a Rebel will contact you within one business day.

x

How to Enable Primary Tag Tracking in Google Analytics

Track your top-performing topics

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

There is also a primary tag dimension built into our RebelCMS which can be enabled for tracking in Google Analytics.

Why Track Primary Tags?

Tracking primary tags through Google Analytics allows you to track the performance of specific tags, which is helpful if you want to see what kinds of topics are performing well or underperforming on your site.

Once enabled in Google Analytics, you can see the performance of a specific primary tag, such as its pageviews, users, and more:

Then, in Google Data Studio, we can gather the data on your primary tags together to see your top-performing tags and gain insights into how they're performing.

How to Track Primary Tags in Google Analytics

To track your primary tags in Google Analytics, click on the Admin panel in your account. Then, select Custom Definitions.

Next, click Custom Dimensions.

After that, click on the red + New Custom Dimension button.

Fill in the name as Primary Tag, and set the Scope to Hit. Click the blue Create button.

That is all you need to do to set up tracking for your primary tags. Once completed, our team has to link a primary tag custom dimension on our back end. Please contact support@rebelmouse.com or datastudio@rebelmouse.com to finalize this step. Happy tracking!

New: Elasticsearch in the Posts Dashboard

Easily search to find any post on your site

For publishers, content is often your most valuable asset. That's why it's important to take care of your article library as it grows and discovers new life over and over again. Now, we've made it easier to find your posts with our new Elasticsearch functionality.

You can now search for every article ever created on your site using your Posts Dashboard. First, click the Filters icon in the top right-hand corner to pull up the search navigation:

Keep reading...

Customize Entry Editor Settings in the Layout & Design Tool

Design your own editorial experience

The modern content lifecycle looks different for every publisher. That's why we're constantly updating our editorial suite to cater to the needs of every team. Most CMS platforms have a one-size-fits-all approach to their Entry Editor, but this requires editorial teams to work around the confines of that system. Instead, what if you had the power to fully customize your Entry Editor for your team and organization in a way that best suits your workflow?

Now, with the RebelCMS, it's possible. We've extended our Layout & Design tool to include the customization of our Entry Editor experience. Here's how it works.

Keep reading...
Subscribe to Our Newsletter