Light readers represent next growth path for subscription-mature media

Light Readers - Digital Subscriptions’ Next Growth Path

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INMA Light Readers
INMA nurturing light readers
Light readers represent the strongest growth path for subscription-mature news media companies, yet the audience segment described as “casual,” “infrequent,” and “picky” requires deeper study, according to a new report released today by the International News Media Association (INMA).
Written by INMA, readers first initiative lead, Greg Piechota, “Light Readers – Digital Subscriptions’ Next Growth Path” reveals new patterns in reader revenue during the pandemic, the emergence of product and marketing tactics to attract light readers, insights into casual buyers across consumer industries, and a re-sizing of the subscription opportunity ahead.
Piechota labels 2020 as “the year of subscriptions” and 2021 as “the year of the light readers.” By the end of last year, publishers had successfully acquired and retained readers who were brand-loyal and fans, enhanced by people looking to navigate the pandemic. While these remain priority readers, the new growth path has shifted to light readers who require longer trials and habituation development.
In addition to his original research, Piechota brings in case studies from Aftenposten in Norway and U.S. publishers such as The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

 

Among the 46-page report’s key takeaways are-
  • Content that engages light readers also engages heavy readers – but not the other way around.
  • Engaging new subscribers within the first 100 days has a direct correlation with retaining them.
  • Casual readers need to have a window to content. “Hop-on, hop-off” readers must be embraced.
  • Engagement loops work better than the traditional funnel.

INMA — Art and science behind digital subscriptions

The new report is part of the INMA Readers First Initiative, which aims to surface global best practices in the art and science behind digital subscriptions for news media companies. The initiative produces newsletters, Slack channel interactions, video meet-ups, reports, Webinars, workshops, and one-on-one Ask Me Anything sessions for INMA members worldwide.
“The focus on light readers is one of the priorities of the Readers First Initiative, now in its third year,” said Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director, and chief executive officer, INMA. “This meticulously researched report brings together the beginnings of a playbook for publishers seeking the next growth path for digital subscriptions. Light readers represent a segment not well understood by news-hungry publishers and editors who often are more like a brand’s super fans.”
Piechota is a researcher-in-residence in INMA and the lead of the association’s Readers First Initiative. An ex-fellow at Oxford and Harvard universities, he studied technology-enabled patterns across industries with a focus on business model innovation in news media. He is a former media executive with 20+ years of industry experience, notably Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza. Piechota has served on the INMA board of directors and president of the association’s European Division.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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