Close

Copyright © RebelMouse 2019

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

Meet RebelMouse

Build on a better platform that supports far-reaching content distribution, impactful conversion, and unparalleled loyalty.

The world's largest companies trust us to power their global, multiplatform content experience. As a platform, we're now one of the largest in the world, reaching 50+ million people every month. As a creative agency, we build mass pop culture hits that grow organically to become household names — Axios and The Dodo, for example.

We work strategically with United Airlines and many other brands to establish the new media roadmap for their future and implement it. RebelMouse was founded by the CTO who built The Huffington Post. The founding vision and mission is still the same today: to be the right new media platform for both media companies and brands. It's working exceedingly well, and we're delivering some staggering results for our clients.

Read our latest deck here!

Keep reading... Show less

Publishers No Longer Have to Submit Their Site to Google News

Google's Publisher Center creates new opportunities for audience growth

Just before the start of the next decade, Google announced an important change to its Google News offering with the launch of Google Publisher Center. The new interface merges Google News Producer and Google News Publisher into one to streamline the partnership process for publishers.

Overall, the change should make it easier for publishers to manage their Google News settings, including updating themes, directing URLs to section pages, and configuring user permissions. Read the full list of features here.

Keep reading... Show less

Custom HTML Class Names for Rows and Columns

Assign attributes to your site's rows and columns

You can now add custom HTML class names to rows and columns in RebelMouse's Layout & Design tool. HTML classes can be used for many things, particularly to style elements within a wrapper that has a certain set of CSS properties, or to trigger JavaScript.

This feature eliminates the need to use a separate Element Wrapper to add a class to a set of elements, because the row or column itself can call that specific ID you would typically assign to the Element Wrapper. This creates cleaner, more efficient code in our Layout & Design tool.

You can find the HTML Class within the Properties card of your row or column:

You can also highlight more than one row or column at a time to assign it to the same HTML Class.

This is how it looks in Document Object Model (DOM):

For a refresher on all of the elements available in our Layout & Design tool, click here. If you have any questions about this feature, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk with your account manager today.

How to Create Author Badges

Customize every author profile for a personalized approach

The digital publishing ecosystem is a universe of creators. At RebelMouse, we've created a collaborative publishing experience that allows creators, editors, and influencers to work together in a community-style, customizable workflow.

We recently updated our community features with Author Badges, a feature that gives authors on your site a unique image to compliment their avatar. For example, if an author tends to write about "Trending" topics, you could assign a "Trending" badge to them.

To add an Author Badge from our Badges Dashboard, first navigate to /core/r_dashboard/badges on your site. From there, click the blue ⨁ icon in the bottom right-hand corner to create a new Author Badge.

Keep reading... Show less

What You Need to Know About Facebook News

The social platform's dedicated news tab is now being offered to select publishers

It's estimated that 43% of American adults get their news on Facebook. With an upcoming U.S. presidential election in 2020, the massive social platform has an opportunity to mend fences with its reputation after 2016's fake news fallout and corresponding Cambridge Analytica scandal. In October 2019, Facebook announced the launch of Facebook News, a dedicated tab for news on the platform that aims to give users more control over the news they read.

Facebook News launched to only about 200,000 U.S. users, with articles from local publications in major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Houston. Roughly 200 publishers are working with Facebook on the initial rollout. The feature is still being tested and is currently only available on mobile.

According to an announcement from Facebook on the feature, users can expect to find a wide range of content on Facebook News, including:

  • Today's Stories chosen by a team of journalists to catch you up on the news throughout the day.
  • Personalization based on the news you read, share, and follow, so you can find new interests and topics, and so Facebook News is fresh and interesting every time you open it.
  • Topic sections to dive deeper into business, entertainment, health, science & tech, and sports.
  • Your Subscriptions, a section for people who have linked their paid news subscriptions to their Facebook account.
  • Controls to hide articles, topics, and publishers you don't want to see.

Some of the articles served to users on Facebook will be curated by humans, but the feed will mostly be organized through an algorithm that should become more personalized based on each reader's behavior.

Currently there are several hoops to jump through to become a Facebook News publisher. Pages must serve a large audience, follow Facebook's integrity standards, and be registered in the platform's News Page Index to be considered.

Click here to begin the registration process for your Page to become part of Facebook News.

At RebelMouse, we're dedicated to sustainable growth across the entire digital publishing ecosystem. We power sites with a rich user experience, but also enable our publishers to create content that easily travels across platforms, including Facebook. We're closely monitoring this newest feature from Facebook, particularly the screening process for publishers to be accepted into the program. If you have any questions about Facebook News and its current rollout, please email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to 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 Add + Style Horizontal Rules

Organize your text with horizontal rules

Horizontal rules help editorial teams build content that is both visually appealing and structurally solid as they break up articles into clear and understandable sections that audiences can easily identify.

Horizontal rules are easy to add and style using our Entry Editor and our Layout & Design tool. From Entry Editor, simply click the Horizontal Rule icon in the toolbar and a horizontal demarcation will be placed within your text.

Keep reading... Show less

Inside Our Fastly Recovery Plan

How we offer reliable site security

The purpose of our disaster recovery plan is to prevent downtimes with Amazon Web Service (AWS) that directly affect site reliability. We pride ourselves on our ability to reliably keep traffic flowing to our client's sites, even in the event of a disruption.

We partner with Fastly — our CDN provider — for our failover plan, which is based on rerouting traffic directly to our servers in case of an outage.

Keep reading... Show less
Subscribe to Our Newsletter