Schibsted esta tratando de establecer cuáles son los sites de noticias que serán rentables
Of all news site readers, only a small number typically bother to register an account. And of all registered users, only a small number typically buy a subscription. So Scandinavian publishing house Schibsted is trying to use data to saving its marketing efforts — and subscription deals — for the readers who are more likely to pay up.
Schibsted’s subscription-purchase prediction model, developed by the company’s data science team, has been in use at four of the group’s Norwegian sites since last year: national newspaper Aftenposten and regional titles Bergens Tidende, Stavanger Aftenbladet and Fædrelandsvennen. The model, tested first at Aftenposten, predicts how likely readers who are already registered and logged into one of these sites are to buy a subscription, based on their browsing behavior and other activities.
“If we look back a bit, Schibsted has been in the print publishing business for more than 150 years, and we have operated free online news sites since 1995,” Eivind Fiskerud, Schibsted’s head of data and analytics for its Norwegian group, said. “It’s only the last four or five years that we have had user payments on our site. So this was a part of an effort to ramp up investment in digital growth.”
In addition to recording more reader behaviors, the prediction model gives the sites’ sales and marketing teams information they can use to target different groups of registered users with different digital subscription packages.
So far, the efforts seem to have paid off. Across the sites where it’s in use, the model has identified groups of readers 3× to 5× times more likely than average to buy a subscription. Sales staff at these news sites are then able to, for instance, target these specific registered users on Facebook with special subscription deals.
Data from Facebook campaigns showed that these targeted users were 22 percent more likely to subscribe when shown an ad linking to a paywalled article. Additionally, Schibsted’s marketing team spent an average of 35 percent less on Facebook advertising in trying to get each of these users to subscribe, compared to users that the model had pinpointed as less likely to subscribe.
Schibsted has always had a telemarketing strategy, calling registered news site users directly to offer subscription packages. In the dark about which users would be more likely to pay, the success rate for selling subscriptions over the phone was around 1 percent of all users contacted. When Schibsted’s marketers targeted the groups identified by its prediction model, that number rose to 6 percent.
Schibsted has the staff resources to devote to developing tools like its prediction purchase model. The company is one of Europe’s largest media groups, with leading news titles in Norway and Sweden, as well as extensive classified-ad interests in 22 countries and 7,000 employees around the world. The company has developed other tools focused on tailoring experiences to readers, such as one for automating the homepage story placement process, where user behavior such as clicks, conversion rates, and length of reading time factor into how stories are arranged on the site for the individual reader (a tool it has tested at one of its Swedish news outlets, Svenska Dagbladet, and at Aftenposten).
Norway’s Aftenposten has approximately 100,000 digital subscribers as of January. Digital subscriptions to the regional news titles Bergens Tidende, Stavanger Aftenblad, and Fædrelandsvennen bring Schibsted’s total count in Norway to 160,000. The company is aiming for 200,000 subscriptions across all these sites in 2018. (Norway’s population is just 5.2 million — making that scale all the more impressive.)
“What we didn’t really know before this project was how user behavior on the site relates to purchasing subscriptions. So that was unknown territory for us: What they are doing on the site, and what are the characteristics and patterns of those users who end up wanting to buy a subscription,” Fiskerud said. “Trying to crack that, and predict behavior, was the main business problem we had wanted to solve for.”
The prediction model is based on an algorithm that has been trained to identify the browsing behaviors of registered site users that go on to subscribe. It now takes between ten and 15 variables into account when determining a reader’s likelihood of subscribing, according to Ciarán Cody-Kenny, who worked on the model as part of Schibsted’s data science team.
Signals include straightforward factors such as a reader’s frequency of visits and the number of articles they clicked on, and other broader behaviors such as the number of devices used to access the site, past subscription history, and the proportion of weekend visits (which correlate with a higher likelihood to subscribe).
The data science team set the observational period, during which the model they were building analyzed registered users’ behaviors, at 14 days, after some experimentation. The data is stored as a shared list of user IDs and individual scores based on a user’s calculated propensity to take out a subscription, which the sales and marketing teams can then access and use in their own workflows.
“We started off with four weeks of data, but reduced to two weeks following a per-week analysis of some of the variables which showed that the fourth week — the last week — in the period had the strongest signal,” Cody-Kenny said. “Which makes sense, I think: Your most recent behavior is most predictive of your propensity to purchase next week.”
Ability to apply the prediction model across all Schibsted sites was an important aspect of the project right from the start, Cody-Kenny said. (So far, the company hasn’t implemented the prediction model at any of its other major news sites in Norway and Sweden, including Verdens Gang and Aftonbladet, one of the biggest news brands in Sweden, both of which combine free and premium access journalism.)
“Being able to replicate the process across these publishers was quite important for us. We approached this with a ‘nail it, then scale it’ attitude,” he said. “It’s somewhat inefficient if each of our publishers builds their own process from scratch. If we can build it once and prove the value for one site initially, then easily roll it out to others, we are saving on effort.”
The success of the prediction model so far has drawn some attention in the industry, and other media groups have asked about licensing the tool. For now though, selling tech built in-house commercially, à la The Washington Post with its Arc Publishing system, is not on the immediate horizon for Schibsted, according to Fiskerud.
“We’re focused on learning and using it to drive our own subscriptions and growth,” he told me.
The company still needs to collect more data on its overall effectiveness. But Fiskerud said that in-house technologies, built by and for news organizations, can help newsrooms gain more useful insight into audience behavior at a time when any owned data can be critical for publishers — even if this may be a level of marketing-data sophistication that other sectors, such as e-commerce, arrived at earlier.
“The importance of having control over our own data, and knowing who the user is, and building a deeper relationship with our subscribers is really key to surviving in journalism,” he said.
El diario sueco Aftonbladet es un caso de éxito digital
Cuando ‘The New York Times’, ‘The Washington Post’ o ‘Financial Times’ desvelan cómo están creciendo sus negocios online, otros editores piensan que ese éxito solo está al alcance de los gigantes del periodismo. En un pequeño país como Suecia hay una cabecera que demuestra que es posible crear un modelo sólido sustentado por una audiencia leal.
El periódico sueco ‘Aftonbladet’ logró 255 millones de coronas suecas (32 millones de dólares) en 2017, convirtiéndose en una de las publicaciones más exitosas de Europa. La cabecera, propiedad de la compañía de medios escandinavos Schibsted, puede servir de modelo a otros medios que quieran subsistir en la era digital.
La propia compañía ha revelado que el secreto de su éxito radica en la estrategia. El tabloide lidera el mercado de la publicidad digital, impulsado por el vídeo y los anuncios locales. La otra pata de su negocio, las suscripciones digitales, superaron las 250.000 en 2017. Esta cifra no solo es un éxito en un país que apenas cuenta con diez millones de habitantes, sino que puede considerarse todo un hito si se compara con la mayoría de las publicaciones internacionales. El diario con más suscriptores del mundo, ‘The New York Times’, apenas supera los 2,6 millones de abonados digitales. En un país con 320 millones de habitantes, debería alcanzar los 8 millones de suscriptores para igualar la proporción de abonados que registra el diario sueco, según estimaciones del Instituto Reuters para el Estudio del Periodismo.
‘Aftonbladet’ asegura que su fuerza radica en la relación tan estrecha que mantiene con sus lectores. Prueba de este compromiso es que el tráfico directo superó el 80% durante el mes de diciembre. Su modelo freemium permite leer noticias y artículos de opinión generados por un equipo de 300 profesionales. Las personas que se suscriben a ‘Aftonbladet Plus’ pueden acceder a artículos en profundidad por 59 coronas al mes (7 dólares), informa ‘Digiday’.
Todos los periodistas elaboran contenidos para el servicio de pago, pero hay 16 profesionales dedicados exclusivamente a trabajar en Plus confeccionando boletines y diferentes productos. Los suscriptores tienen disponibles cada día 25 artículos. La cobertura deportiva ha resultado ser muy útil para atraer suscriptores. Una vez que se convierten en abonados, tienen la posibilidad de acceder a la revista digital ‘Sportbladet’.
La versión Premium Plus asciende a 99 coronas (12 dólares), y permite al abonado descargar guías de viaje y acceder a la transmisión de películas por cortesía del servicio de vídeo bajo demanda SF Anytime.
Otra de las claves del éxito del diario reside en el análisis de datos. El equipo de Plus se dedica a monitorear los hábitos de lectura de los visitantes de la web y de los suscriptores de pago. Así conoce cuáles son los temas que obtienen mayor tráfico y sobre ellos crea boletines informativos exclusivospara abonados.
El fin de la era digital puede estar cerca
I typically kick off the annual Local Online Advertising Conference in New York each spring with an eye-popping revelation about local media discovered amidst the research. A few years ago, I showed how local media companies might be growing their digital revenues nicely, but in reality were hemorrhaging market share to Google and Facebook. Last year I showed that local print and broadcast media selling digital products were raking in about $12 billion in supplemental, high-margin revenue.
When I take the stage March 12, however, there might be a bit more whiplash than usual.
The latest research shows that the end of digital is near.
Before you go looking for that “Post This to Social Media” button, consider this: It’s notthe end that many in the industry have been praying for, and it spells a passel of trouble for those who continue to waste time debating whether print media is better than digital.
A few facts are in order from a survey of 2,068 local newspaper advertisers conducted last summer. The results show:
- They rated the effectiveness of digital advertising the same as newspaper advertising.
- 74% are being offered digital products by their newspaper reps, and of those who are, 81% buy.
- Two-thirds said they planned to increase their digital spending, while 10% said they planned to increase their newspaper spending.
So, yeah, the end is near, but it’s not going to be a return to the past by any means. What we’re soon likely to see is an end to more than two decades of growth in the part of “digital media” that’s been most damaging to print and broadcast companies: the migration of ad dollars. In the past 10 years, locally spent digital advertising has shown a 22.7% Compound Annual Growth Rate. In the past two years, it’s plummeted. And within three, it’s likely to go negative, albeit slightly.
Make no mistake. It’s not a nadir; it’s a zenith. Digital advertising already accounts for more than half of all dollars spent on local advertising. At $60 billion, it’s twice as much as local businesses spend on newspapers, TV, and radio advertising combined.
And I didn’t say it was collapsing. It’s flattening.
When things stop growing, expect all hell to break lose. What we’ll face in 2021 is the beginning of yet another New World Order for media. It will be the first time in 25 years that digital advertising hasn’t grown. (It even grew during the Great Recession, while everything else plummeted). Competition for local ad dollars among existing companies like Google, Facebook, Bing, and Oath will become even more fierce. Other entrants will grow and flex their tentacles into the local business community. They include Apple, Amazon, IBM’s Watson, and perhaps–as marketing guru Rishad Tobaccowala posits–big marketing companies out of China, such as Baidu, 10Cent, and Alibaba. (See Tobaccowala’s video interview.)
It will be a very strange world indeed, with grave challenges to local media companies who’ve forgotten that they can’t survive without serving the needs of local advertisers.
I’m looking forward to hearing insights on where it’s all headed. Tobaccowala, the key strategist at Publicis Groupe, has some particularly poignant observations about local media, which he’ll be sharing as a conference keynoter. We’ll also hear from Jim Moroney, who’s been rolling the dice in Dallas and getting a 30% market share of the “addressable digital advertising” in that market. That’s about five times what the average newspaper company gets across all U.S. markets. We’ve been so impressed at Borrell Associates with what his team is doing that we’ve invited four of his key executives to conduct an afternoon workshop at #LOAC2018.
What role might digital ad fraud have in this impending flattening? I suspect it has some role, but not much. I’ve asked Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the IAB, to shed more light on that issue when he keynotes Day 2 of the conference.
I hope you can make it. To check out who else is coming, check out this impressive attendee list.
En dos años el 50 por ciento de las noticias que circulen por las redes sociales serán falsas
Las ‘fake news’ son una amenaza para la prensa libre y la democracia misma. Así lo consideró el director de El País de España, Antonio Caño, quien reivindicó “como más necesario y demandado que nunca” el periodismo “de calidad, honesto, riguroso y respetuoso con las reglas profesionales”.
Aunque la proliferación de bulos en Internet ha llevado “el caos al mundo de las noticias” al mismo tiempo ha revalorizado el papel de la prensa” como un referente fiable para informarse y “fiscalizar los abusos del poder”.
Durante la segunda jornada de los Encuentros de Periodismo de Folha de S. Paulo, organizados en esta ciudad por el diario brasileño, el director de El País advirtió que en un plazo de dos años el 50% de las noticias que circulen por las redes sociales serán falsas.
Caño recordó que una prensa libre e independiente es indispensable para la supervivencia de la democracia. “Si dejamos que fuerzas oscuras impongan sus mentiras a los ciudadanos indefensos, abriremos un camino seguro al autoritarismo”.
Caño sostiene que el mejor antídoto contra esta nueva plaga de manipulación informativa está en los medios y no en crear organismos reguladores vinculados a los gobiernos con poder para decidir lo que es le verdad: “En ese caso corremos el riesgo de que para combatir un mal creemos otro peor, la censura”.
Para el director del medio español, la circulación de informaciones falsas debe servir a los gigantes tecnológicos, en especial Facebook y Google, para convencerse de la necesidad de trabajar más estrechamente con los medios.